How to Check for Bed Bugs When You Travel
As someone who travels a lot, I know all too well the crapshoot of getting a room in a hotel when affordability limits your options. And being that I’m also something of a clean-freak, it goes without saying that my skin crawls at the idea of picking up some nasty pest during my travels.
The worst, and most common, of these by far are bed bugs. Bed bugs also like to travel, and that means it’s not uncommon to find them cropping up in hotel rooms all over the world. On the road, you don’t really have the time or resources to call in an exterminator armed with professional bed bug spray. That’s why I always do a thorough room inspection before I settle in for the night.
For those who are also concerned about bed bugs, I’ve decided to share my routine. Hopefully, it will help you as much as it’s helped me over the years.
Put Your Luggage Somewhere Safe
First things first, you want to make sure that if there are bed bugs in the room that they don’t manage to make their way into your luggage to infest your clothing.
Upon entering, immediately place your luggage somewhere well-lit, elevated, hard-surfaced, and away from any upholstered furniture. The bathroom is usually the best spot. For extra protection, seal your suitcases in large plastic trash bags that have been tied off.
Inspect the Mattress & Bed Frame
Bed bugs are named that for a very good reason. Inspecting your hotel room’s mattress and box spring should be a top priority. Pay close attention to any visible crevices, corners, cracks, or holes in the bed frame. Bed bugs can be easily recognized by their small 1/4 –inch size, oval shape, and red-brown coloring.
You may wish to pull the bed away from the wall to check behind the headboard and beneath the box spring. It may also be wise to remove all blankets, sheets, and pillow covers for closer investigation, with special focus on any folds or seams.
Inspect Any Upholstered Furniture
Bed bugs are attracted to dark, warm places with lots of little nooks and crannies for them to hide in. They’re also attracted to humans, and will often follow traces to places that people use often. For this reason, upholstered furniture, such as chairs and sofas, tend to be a hotbed for these pests.
As with the mattress, you mustn’t hesitate to remove any cushions or coverings. The places where bed bugs are most likely to congregate are in the corners of couches and chairs where the backrest meets the seat, as well as the carpet directly beneath the furniture.
Be Careful When Returning Home
No matter how meticulously you inspect your hotel room, there’s always the chance of infestation. It’s never a bad idea to be cautious upon returning home. Even if you haven’t noticed any telltale bed bug signs, such as the itchy red bites they often leave behind, that doesn’t mean you haven’t brought some home with you.
Keep your house bed bug-free by visiting a laundromat as soon as possible and tumble all your clothing in a hot dryer for at least a half-hour. The heat should kill any lingering critters. Also, vacuum both the inside and outside of your luggage. It might seem excessive, but better safe than sorry.