You may not worry too much about a bed bug infestation in your own home, but we’ve all heard horror stories about people who encounter bed bugs when they’re traveling and staying at a hotel. What happens if you travel and encounter bed bugs? Not only will your travel plans be affected, but how can you be sure that you won’t bring one (or more) of these pesky creatures home with you?
Bed bugs are not something that you want to invite into your living space. They can cause itchy red welts all over your body and are not the easiest pests to get rid of. Bed bugs can also cause quite a bit of paranoia, anxiety and sleeplessness because if you see one bed bug – chances are there just might be more hiding out of sight.
Bed Bugs: What to Look For
Wingless bed bugs are oval and flat, reddish brown in color and range in size anywhere from one to seven millimeters. They resemble the size, shape, and color of an apple seed. Even if you do not see them, you may notice signs of their presence including their waste (brown or black stains that resemble black pepper flakes), their skin sheds, very small translucent eggs and nymphs or baby bed bugs.
Preparing to Travel
Because bed bugs love to hide out in folds and seams, if you have access to a hard-shelled suitcase you might want to use it. Pack everything separately, by category if you choose, in sealable plastic bags. Only open these bags when you need to access the items in the bag. Although there is nothing that can guarantee a bed bug won’t slip into your belongings, this will go a long way to make things less attractive to the little beasts.
Your Home Away From Home
Beds are inherently the favorite dwelling place of bed bugs. The cracks, crevices, folds and ruffles appeal to them and make a great home for them. Upon arrival at your temporary living space, make sure you pull back the covers on your bed and inspect under the covers and pillows. Get up as close as you can, perhaps even using a flashlight. Check in the seams and edges of the mattress, box spring and frame and behind the headboard.
Bed bugs do not stay exclusively in beds, however. Check the items near your bed including the nightstand and lamps, pleated drapes and the pleats of upholstered furniture. To be very thorough you can even check behind anything hanging from the walls, including mirrors and artwork.
What to Do if You See Bed Bugs in a Hotel
If you see a bed bug or hard evidence that they exist in your hotel room or temporary environment, you should inform hotel management and see if you can change to a far-away room. Try to get farther away from the existing room than just one room over. Bed bugs can travel quite easily between walls, on housekeeping carts and via luggage. Hopefully the hotel will take your request seriously and also take care of the issue immediately before any other rooms and guests can be affected.
Upon Returning Home
If you think you have encountered bed bugs at any point on your trip, you should take this occurrence very seriously when you get home. You would be inviting trouble for you and your family if you bring these critters home with you. Before bringing your luggage inside your home make sure you thoroughly inspect it outdoors or in your garage. If you don’t have access to a garage or private outdoor space, you could also use your balcony, bathtub or shower. Bed bugs are easier to see against lighter colors, and also have a difficult time crawling around on smooth surfaces. Make sure you check all the suitcase’s pockets, seams and linings. It would be ideal if you could steam clean or vacuum the suitcase before storing it back with your other luggage. Make sure to launder every piece of clothing that was in your suitcase on high heat and dry for a 30-minute minimum. This should take care of any bed bugs that may be lurking in your clothing.
If somehow a bed bug slips through and you notice it inside your home, call a service professional immediately to consult on how to handle the situation before you have a full-fledged outbreak on your hands.