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Bed Bugs While Traveling ~ 5 Tips to Help You Avoid Them!

Sleep tight - don't let the bed bugs bite...

The best way to avoid bed bugs is to avoid staying at hotel with a known problem. Duh! Obviously, that's not always possible. If you've got the itch for travel (but can do without the itch of bed bugs) listen up: it's easy to protect yourself if you know the tricks.

Tip # 1 - Bring a flashlight

Bed Bugs & Travelers Don't MixYour flashlight (or cell phone with a light) is your new travel buddy - the rest is simple. The little buggers hate light. Ever lifted up a rock and watched the bugs scurry? Same thing happens with bed bugs when you shine light on them. Use your flashlight wisely and you too can travel bed-bug free.

Okay, it's not really that simple - bed bugs are invasive, hard to catch and more difficult to get rid of than dust. Bringing them home from a trip could cost you thousands of dollars and a lot of lost shut-eye.

Tip #2 - Inspect your hotel bed

When you arrive at your hotel, begin by putting your luggage in the bathroom or outside on the balcony while you poke around. Then grab your flashlight.

  • Start with the headboard - shine the light into the spot where the brackets connect with the wall and follow along the path back to the bed. Watch for dark red or brown spots (fecal or blood stains) that mark a trail.
  • Check the bedding - pull back the sheets quickly and look for dark red or brown stains in clusters. Look closely at the corners and seams where they hide during the day.
  • Inspect the box spring - lift the mattress at the corners and shine your light into the darkness quickly. Check closely for stains and scurrying.

Tip #3 - Inspect your hotel room

Adult Bed BugBed bugs can live up to a year without feeding, which means a sofa or desk chair can be a comfy place to live. But you can also find them in desk drawers and other dark places.

Pay close attention to corners and cracks - and keep an eye open for small stains.

Tip #4 - What to do if you find bed bugs

Whether you spot a live bug or evidence on the sheets, call the front desk immediately and explain what's in your room. Invite the hotel manager or another supervisor to your room to inspect the evidence, but make it clear you will not be staying in the room overnight.

Bed Bug Nightmares Most hotels will happily give you another room. Remember to repeat the inspection again in your new room.

If you find bed bugs after you've slept in the room, ask to speak to the hotel manager and accept nothing less. The room should be steam cleaned immediately and your clothes laundered. If you meet with resistance, learn how to rant and get results.

Tip #5 - Prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking home with you

Protecting yourself and preventing hitchhikers from following you home is simpler than knowing which hotel has bed bugs in it.

  • Bed Bugs & LuggageNever put your luggage on the bed. Stand the luggage rack on a hard floor (like the bathroom). Keep the rack well away from the wall or furnishings.
  • When you get home, unpack on a hard floor - stay away from carpets. Watch closely for escapees as you unpack.
  • Wash all your clothes in hot water. Water temperature should be at least 110F - and set your dryer on it's highest possible setting as well.
  • Vacuum your suitcase. If you're worried about stowaways, unpack outside.
  • If you live in a cold climate, temperatures must be below 23 F and you'll have to leave items outside for a minimum of 5 days (although 2 weeks is recommended).
  • Don't forget your briefcase and purse. There are cases of libraries being infected with bed bugs - they aren't picky where they find their next meal. Don't leave any crevice un-sucked.
  • Before you sleep in your own bed, shower. It's unusual for bed bugs to travel on people (we move too much for them to find a comfortable hiding place) but it's not unheard of.

Bed bugs are in hotels in every state and province in North America. Protecting yourself from the nasty critters takes travel smarts and diligence - both of which GoGirlfriend readers have plenty of.

Hungry for more info? These sites are great places to start:

Ever found bed bugs while traveling? How did you protect yourself? Share your travel dreams here or check us out on Twitter or Facebook - and let's talk!

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The little buggers can be found anywhere - top notch hotel or run-down roadside motel. People would think I was crazy popping off the headboard (easily done in many hotels) and looking behind, or checking the beds. Ask my BlissDom roomies - I always check! I've heard of cases in restaurant booths, too. Ew!

Hey Julia ! Nice article to avoid Bed bugs while traveling because these kinds of problem will occurs mostly when you not take pre-book your rooms or not inspection before booking rooms.

Right! Thanks much for these tips for us travelers. It's really going to be of big help.

This is disgusting!!!! I would not ask for another room if I find bedbugs; it's time for a refund! The hotel staff should use thorough cleaning techniques after a person checks out. I have kids and if they get bit, so help me God!

A clean hotel is ALWAYS a necessity! These are great tips for someone who doesn't travel a lot, they may miss these precautions that are very important so that they don't risk taking these uninvited things back with them.

Great advice. I've had run ins with bedbugs in a hotel room and it is not fun. Take a flashlight and use it to check for them before you bring your things in a hotel room. The signs - black flecks of fecal matter and skin casts - are usually there if you look for them with the light. One thing you left out: my bites took 10 days to appear on my skin as it was my first exposure. So never bring your luggage into your home after a trip without taking precautions. I woke up in the middle of being bitten but you may not. You may have been bitten but not know yet and you don't want to bring them home.

As an avid traveler myself, I have come to expect that not very establishment is going to be up to snuff. So I am grateful for this kind of advice. I'll be sure to take my new "travelling companion" everywhere I go!

Good article! There is a bed bug spray that is made by a company called Fairytales based in London Ontario

I just happened across your well written article Julia. Well done! One of the more important - and so simple - areas of your article that so many travelers seem to ignore are the easy things. You addressed placing your luggage in the bathtub to avoid the possibility of bed bugs entering your luggage while you are inspecting the room. I agree, this is so very important. This will negate the possibility of you giving this nasty pest a free ride to populate elsewhere, including bed bugs in schools. Keep the bed bug awareness information flowing!

EWWW! My skin is crawling too, thanks for that! I found bedbugs in my hostel in Cairns, it was awful. The hostel payed for all the laundry but we had to do out backpacks to which was a huge pain in the rear. I hope I never have to deal with these little jerks again!

Talk about perfect time! Thanks for what yu are doing here, more people need to be aware of bed bugs when they travel because they can "hitch" a ride back to their homes easily. They don't care who you are or where you live or which airline your using. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for the article! These should also help give consumers some facts about bed bugs. Bed Bugs – Fact & Fiction 1. Bed bugs are only found in run down and dirty structures. FALSE. Bed bugs are non discriminating. They have been found in 5-star hotels, cruise ships, single-family homes and public housing alike. They will hitchhike equally on designer luggage or discarded mattresses. 2. Bed bugs are only a problem right now in more densely populated areas like New York and New Jersey. FALSE. Bed bugs have reached epidemic proportion throughout North America. While the New York area is one of the country’s bed bug hotspots, the pests have been reported in all 50 states as well as in Canada. Urban locations have higher reported occurrences, but are commonly found in more rural locations, as well. 3. Bed bugs feed on human blood in the middle of the night like vampires. TRUE. Bed bugs are most active in the early morning hours when humans are normally in their deepest sleep. A blood meal usually lasts around 10-15 minutes. 4. Bed bugs are only found on mattresses and bedding. FALSE. Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices of a structure, inside wall cavities, on walls and ceilings, under carpeting, in other upholstered furniture, even in electric outlets and within electronics. Mattresses are closest to their meals, so they are often found there. 5. Pesticides are the most effective way to kill bed bugs. FALSE. While pesticide applications play a role in overall integrated pest management, there are definite down sides, including having to often apply pesticides multiple times on the same structure and also discarding and replacing mattresses. In fact, bed bugs are already showing resistance to powerful professionally applied pesticides according to recent university research (Dr. Michael Potter, University of Kentucky). 6. Heat is proving to be the method of choice for killing bed bugs and their eggs. TRUE. Laboratory testing has shown that bed bugs begin to die when temperatures reach as little at 113 degrees F. Field research has shown 100% effectiveness in killing bed bugs and their eggs when exposed to high temperatures. 7. Encasing your mattress with a plastic cover will solve the bed bug problem. FALSE. Mattress covers can help with bed bugs already found on the mattress, and only partial control thereafter. Encasements will not stop bed bugs from crawling onto your sheets and blankets from behind headboards. Since bed bugs hide in many parts of the structure, as well as on other pieces of furniture, encasements should only be viewed as one possible component in the fight against bed bugs. 8. Bed bugs can be a source of health-related problems. TRUE While there is no current evidence to show that bed bugs can transmit disease, we do know that bed bug bite victims often report itchy, inflamed skin and on rare occasions victims have reported asthma attacks and other allergic reactions. According to a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, bed bug bites should be considered a possible cause of iron-deficiency anemia in people who have signs of severe bedbug infestation. 9. Bed bugs are the most difficult pest to control. TRUE. According to a recent survey from the National Pest Management Association 76% of pest control operators surveyed say bed bugs are the toughest -- even more than cockroaches, termites and ants.

My skin is crawling...... Ugh! Well written article Julia and we all need to know these things but...Yucky, yucky, yucky!!

Thanks for stopping by Carol. Hope your skin is crawling because of the story and not because you think you may have bed bugs :-)

This whole thing is creepy and crawly, but thanks for the great tips. I'll be sure to make sure to check the places we're staying in Korea. Now I'm off to shower!

Great information on a very timely subject. Thanks Julia!

Thanks Suzie. It's a subject that has travelers everywhere scared - glad you found my info helpful! Julia

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