Bed bugs are infamously difficult to remove once they infest a location. Nocturnal, fast and only measuring about the size of an apple seed, bed bugs have the ability to multiply rapidly.
What makes the eradication process even more difficult is that bed bugs are able to survive without food for a whole year. It’s important for you to use every precaution to avoid picking up bed bugs while traveling. Not only are they a nightmare to get rid of but they can also carry MRSA from person-to-person.
This bed bug prevention infographic courtesy of The Bed Bug Force illustrates how to prevent bed bugs when traveling. Taking these basic precautions will help ensure that you don’t become a victim to bed bugs and make the most of your next trip – bed bug-free.
Preventing Bed Bugs While Traveling
In spite of aggressive measures taken to eradicate bed bugs, they are alive and well in every area trafficked by humans. Whether you’re traveling within the country or abroad, it’s important for you to check your belongings for bed bugs. It’s relatively easy to transport these insects back to your home.
It’s not uncommon for many individuals to wake up with itchy red welts, a sure sign that their bed is now occupied by bed bugs. Fortunately, there are plenty of measures you can take to minimize the risks of encountering blood-sucking insects while on vacation.
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Bed bugs are flat, reddish-brown, and range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters. The dead giveaway of their presence comes from their fecal droppings, that look like flakes of pepper. You may also see shed skins, and evidence of bed bugs’ eggs and nymphs that are both translucent.
If you’re are traveling in any mode of transportation other than your personal vehicle, you could pack your belongings in sealable plastic bags, and only open these items when you absolutely need them. As another option, you could seal your entire luggage set in a clear trash bag to prevent bed bugs from crawling into your belongings during your travels.
Before Unpacking Your Luggage
Before you settle down and unpack your luggage in your hotel room, keep your bag zipped up and place your baggage, including any purses, backpacks, or camera bags on a luggage rack or in the bathroom, where there are fewer nooks and crannies for bed bugs to hide.
Inspecting Your Hotel Room for Bed Bugs
When you arrive at your hotel, pull the covers of the bed back and search under the linens and pillows with a flashlight if necessary. Search around the pillow cases, seams and sides of the mattress, box spring, behind the headboard and frame. Look for blood stains or small pepper-looking dots (bed bug feces) around the alarm clock, under and around nightstands and lamps, and in the pleats of upholstered furniture and drapes. Bed bugs can also be hiding behind wall fixtures, mirrors and paintings.
If even a few bed bugs survive during the eradication process, it won’t be long before a full-blown infestation starts all over again. As a review, take all of the following precautions to greatly reduce your risk of an infestation:
- Use a flashlight to inspect hotel rooms, hostels and rental cars.
- Opt for hardshell or collapsible suitcases.
- Remove unnecessary clutter that could hide bed bugs.
When You Get Home
Bed bugs can find their way into luggage, clothing, shoes, purses, toys, books, rental cars, and even in your laptops, cameras and tablets. When you return home, find a location such as the bathroom, hallway, patio or balcony to spot bed bugs since they have a harder time crawling up smooth, slippery surfaces and can be seen easier against light colors. Check your wardrobe’s pockets, linings, and seams.
Thoroughly vacuum or steam clean the bag you kept your clothing to kill, larvae and eggs before putting it up. Wash all of your clothes worn or unworn in hot water (bed bugs are unable to survive temperatures beyond 120 degrees) and dry for at least half an hour. This will kill any remaining undetected bed bugs.
Staying alert during your travels is key in preventing bed bugs from coming home with you. Understanding how to identify them and doing your proper diligence upon entering hotel rooms will help mitigate the risks. For more information, see these helpful videos about preventing bed bugs by Bulwark Exterminating.