Traveling? How to Protect Your Family against Bed Bugs?
Are you excited about traveling but are also worried about bringing back a bed bug infestation? While you have complete control over not letting your home become a haven for bed bugs, you can’t say the same of hotels and flights that you will have to stay and use, while away on travel.
Hotels and flights are used by thousands of people and you never know who might have let bed bugs out of their luggage or even clothing for that matter. That said, there are measures you can take to make sure to protect yourself against bed bugs, while you travel.
Bed bugs in hotels – How to avoid?
Read through hotel reviews
As a preventative step, you must first read through the reviews of the hotel where you plan to stay. There should absolutely be no mention of bed bugs. Remember, if just one person has complained of bed bugs, it probably means that many of the hotel’s rooms have that problem, even if nobody else has complained about it! If you see a review complaining about bed bugs in a hotel, simply search for another hotel!
Quickly inspect your room when you check in
You must remember that hygiene has nothing to do with bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t infest a place because the place is dirty. They infest a place because there is food available for them to feed on. The food of course is the blood of people who sleep on hotel beds.
So, when you first check in, pull out the sheets and take a close look at the creases and folds of the mattress. Do you see any rust colored stains? If you do, they probably are stains left behind when bed bugs were crushed or because they left fecal matter behind. Even if the mattress is clean, look underneath the mattress, in other areas like draws, under the box spring, under the carpet or behind the headboard and other hard to reach places. With a length of just 5 to 7 mm, bed bugs are hard to spot. Moreover, they are nocturnal feeders which means that they lay in hiding until you are fast asleep. You have to do some investigative work to find them out!
If you do find bed bugs, ask for another room. But remember, you have to inspect that room as well, until you find a room without bed bugs!
Keep luggage away from furniture
Try to keep your luggage placed on free standing furniture that is not connected to walls or other furniture items. Bed bugs are nomadic parasites that can travel up to 15 feet in one day, meaning that they can make their way all the way from the hotel room’s curtains to your bed, before going back by the time you wake up! Keeping your luggage inaccessible to other furniture means bed bugs have a hard time reaching it.
Also, avoid placing your luggage on your bed or carpet, even if very momentarily, as it gives bed bugs a chance to hop on. If you are quite certain that your hotel has bed bugs but you have to stay at the hotel nonetheless, it might be a good idea to buy bed bug covers for your luggage. These are plastic sleeves inside of which you can keep your luggage, securing them against bugs that look to crawl into them.
Inspect your luggage, before you check out!
When your vacation or visit is over and you are ready to check out, you must inspect your luggage to check for signs of bed bugs. If you missed bed bugs when you checked in, you now have a second chance to spot them before you leave the hotel and take the bed bugs home with you. Look under your luggage lining and in your clothes to see if you spot bed bugs. If you do find any, put your clothes through a hot washer / dryer laundry cycle to destroy bed bugs.
You must also check your own person or body to find signs of bed bug infestations. Bed bugs leave behind small red marks on the spots where they bit into you, to feed on your blood. If you find such spots, you must be doubly careful about inspecting your clothes and luggage to rid them of a bed bug problem, before you check out.
Preventing infestation when you get back home
As a third and final step, you can check for a bed bug infestation when you reach home as well. First, make sure that you unpack your luggage in an area outside of your home. You can use a table in your garage or a makeshift table out on the lawn. Thoroughly look through luggage and clothing items to find any bedbug stowaways who have made the journey, despite all your checking.
Even if you don’t find any bed bugs, it might be a good idea to still put all clothes from your luggage through an intense hot water wash and dry cycle, as heat kills bed bugs in both bug and egg form.
Bed bugs on airplanes – How to avoid?
Inspect your seat before you sit on it!
This isn’t the most ideal situation as you will be holding up other travelers but it is one of the easiest ways to prevent infesting yourself with bed bugs, when traveling on an airplane. Quickly check your seat and head rest for the little crawlers who might be out and about. If not for live bed bugs, look for rust colored stains that are left behind when bed bugs are crushed or when they leave behind fecal matter.
If you notice such signs, point it out to cabin crew and ask for a different seat.
Take your own pillow and blanket
Pillows and blankets handed out by airline staff are washed after every use. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that they were used before, meaning that they could have been subject to a bed bug infestation.
A simple way to rule out the possibility of a bed bug infestation originating from pillows and blankets would be by taking your own items instead. It will add to your carry-on baggage weight but can give you peace of mind if you are petrified about the possibility of being bitten by bed bugs, or worse, being infested by bed bugs that you then bring home, after your travel.
These are simple but effective tips that will help you protect yourself and your family against bed bugs that you might encounter while traveling, in airplanes and in hotel rooms.