A couple years ago, I had my house treated for brown recluse spiders. Depending on what part of the country you live in, that statement either made you squeamish, or you thought, “Yep, everyone has some brown recluse spiders.” We learn to live with them and take precautions and treat along the way so that hopefully we stop seeing them. But, my brown recluse expert also was a bed bug expert, and he gave me a few tips that I’m sharing with you today. Unlike brown recluse spiders, when it comes to bed bugs, there is never a casual, “Oh, well, everyone has some.” No, they don’t, and you want to protect yourself to make sure you don’t inadvertently bring them back to your home when you return from your travels. To rid your house of bed bugs is a both a time and financial drain, as well as a downright unpleasant experience.
The following three ways are the minimum that everyone really should be doing when they travel to ensure that bed bugs don’t become souvenirs you bring home. For a more exhaustive list of things to do, I’ve linked to an article at the end for more information. For me, doing the following three things is really the most I can muster.
One: When you enter your hotel room, place all luggage in the bathroom.
I used to walk into my hotel room and place my suitcase on the bed, unpack and then place my suitcase in the closet. NO!!! This invites bed bugs to get into your luggage and then travel back to your home. Your safest bet is to place your luggage in your bathroom as all the surfaces are non-porous, which bed bugs don’t like. If all your luggage won’t fit, you can also place it on top of a dresser or desk, which is not as ideal, but is safer than the bed.
Two: Inspect the beds, surrounding furniture and art near the bed.
There are some key places to inspect when you first enter your hotel room. Bed bugs love to hide in upholstery, dark areas, mattresses and even screw holes in the bedside table. You’ll want to carefully inspect these areas and make sure your room is bed bug-free!
Use a flashlight (or even the flashlight on your smartphone) to inspect and get the best view.
- Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and look like tiny cockroaches — gross!
- Also look for small dark brown or red spots as these are usally signs of bed bug feces and squished bed bugs — lovely!
- Look at all corners of the bed, including each layer of the bedding, the mattress pad and the mattress.
- Look at the space between the headboard and the mattress. The headboard is usually fixed to the wall, so you’ll be able to see straight down to the carpet. Look for bugs or evidence of them.
- Look behind artwork near the bed, corners of the frames, upholstered furniture and all nooks and crannies, including any cracks in wood furniture and screw holes.
- If you find any evidence of bed bugs, let the hotel desk know and move rooms to another side of the hotel. Bed bugs can climb through walls, so you do not want to stay in an adjacent room.
Three: Place dirty clothes in plastic bags and wash them immediately upon coming home.
If you are like my family, dirty clothes end up in a corner of the hotel room, or in the bottom of the closet, or thrown on an upholstered chair. Stop doing this! Bring a plastic bag and when clothes are dirty, throw them into the bag and tie it up. Bed bugs are attracted to the chemical we naturally release onto dirty clothes, so to be extra safe, just throw them into the plastic bag. Then, when you get home, take the bag to your laundry room and wash your clothes right away.
More things to consider:
Yes, there are more things to consider, like wrapping your suitcase in plastic so that it doesn’t attract bed bugs from other suitcases on the airplane. You can place your shoes in plastic bags while at a hotel room. And, bed bugs might be at the movie theater … so you might want to stop placing your handbag in the empty seat next to you. But at the end of the day, to take every single precaution is a lot of hard work, which is why I highlighted the easiest to do in the above list. Anything more may seem overwhelming — like the aforementioned wrapping of your suitcase in plastic! — and then you simply may not do any of them. But, if you are the type to take more precautions, and you want to know even more about bed bugs, here is an article from the EPA filled with tons of information.
Happy travels! And, don’t let the bed bugs bite!
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