How to Avoid Taking Bed Bugs Home from Your Next Vacation
Bed bugs aren’t a discriminatory pest. They can be found anywhere, at just about any time. Even the idea is enough to make some people’s skin crawl, but this is one situation where ignorance is definitely not bliss.
If you are heading on vacation, you will want to bring back mementos and keepsakes, but the creepy-crawly kind probably isn’t what you had in mind. Bed bugs are great hitchhikers. Don’t let them catch a ride with you!
A Problem for Both Low-Budget Motels & Five-Star Resorts
A study done by the NPMA (National Pest Management Association) in conjunction with the University of Kentucky showed that 74% of pest control professionals that were surveyed reported encountering bed bugs in a hotel or motel in the past year.
You’re probably thinking that those bed bugs were most likely found in unkempt motels or low-budget accommodations with lower cleanliness standards. That actually isn’t the case. Unlike many pests that look for unsanitary conditions, buildings in disrepair, and other similar environments for easy access to food, bed bugs just need beds. They could just as easily get into a five-star exclusive resort, so it is important to be diligent in your travels.
Know What to Look For
Before you can go hunting for bed bugs or signs of them, you need to know what you are looking for. It isn’t a fun process, but it is better than having to call an exterminator once you get home because you brought a family of bed bugs home from Tahiti.
Adult bed bugs are typically about one-quarter inch long with a reddish-brown color. Younger bugs will be slightly smaller with a creamy color. These pests are crawlers, so if you notice any flying or jumping, you aren’t dealing with bed bugs. Look for small dark stains, as well as small white eggs or castaway shells left behind in the molting process. Although the latter won’t be prevalent in a minor infestation, eggs and shells can be a sign of a serious infestation.
If you see anything that is suspicious, you should try to contain it and notify the hotel staff immediately. If nothing else, you will have proof that there were bed bugs in the room that may justify your seeking a refund and searching for new accommodations.
4 Tips to Avoid Bed Bugs in Your Hotel
Even though you would need multiple bed bugs invading your suitcase in order to take an infestation home with you, it is worth taking a few precautionary measures to avoid the risk. After all, bed bug remediation can be a difficult and time-consuming process. The biggest tip for avoiding bed bugs is to be aware. Now that you have an idea about what to look for, you can inspect your hotel room and gain peace of mind that your accommodations are bed bug-free.
- Check Your Hotel Room Upon Arrival
The second that you get to your hotel room, you should do a quick visual inspection of the room. Look on furniture, in the folds and seams of cushions and mattresses, and behind and around the headboard if you can. Some hotels mount headboards to the wall so this may not be possible.
- Keep Your Suitcase Stored Off of the Floor
For the sake of safety, many hotel guests choose to store their suitcases in the bathroom or another area of the room that is off of the floor and away from the main room area. It is really a matter of probability when it comes to picking up a bed bug infestation, but all these little tips can help. If your suitcase is safely stowed away out of their reach, you will have one less thing to worry about.
- Wash Everything Before You Leave
Although it might be a little extreme, one surefire way to avoid bringing bed bugs home is to wash all of your clothes and dry them on high heat to kill any potential bugs. While you could do this upon arriving home, you have already crossed the threshold into your house and that could be risky. Use onsite hotel laundry facilities or services to clean everything before you head back home. Once the laundry is clean, take it straight to your car and do not return it to your hotel room.
- Sweat Them Out
Bed bugs don’t live on people. They may bite people that they come into contact with, but they aren’t like fleas that stick around in or on body hair. They cling to clothes, fabrics, linens, and other cloth-like materials. They can be killed quite easily, though, with just a little heat. Like mentioned above, high heat in a dryer will kill all life stages of bed bugs. There are a couple of options to consider such as:
- Once you get home, put all the clothing and cloth-like materials from your suitcase straight into the dryer on high heat. Run the cycle for about 30 minutes to kill any signs of bed bugs.
- If it is summer, or if you live in a warmer climate, just leave your suitcase in the car for a day or two. The heat from outside multiplies exponentially in a car. Temperatures of 75-80 degrees outside should create sufficient heat inside the car to kill any signs of bed bugs.
Keep Calm, Call a Bed Bug Exterminator
Bed bugs aren’t necessarily a “dangerous” infestation. They do bite and the remnants of those wounds can cause itching and skin irritation. Still, however, they don’t belong in your home and you should do your best to avoid them at all costs. The stigma attached to these pests and their false notoriety for being a result of “dirty” conditions can cause confusion and stress, but don’t let that get the best of you.
If you think that bed bugs may have gotten into your home, despite your best preventative efforts, you should contact a professional immediately. The professional team at AAA Exterminating Company can help you with bed bug remediation and prevention. With over 80 years in the pest control industry, we are the preferred bed bug exterminator Boston residents depend on for their pest control needs.