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Bed Bug Prevention for Travelers
In case you aren’t aware of it, bed bugs have made a major comeback in recent years. This is due to the great increase in the number of people traveling around the world. Not that long ago, they were mainly confined to third world regions. Today, you can encounter bed bugs anywhere in the world. Bed bugs are very small, hardy and difficult to get rid of.
The best defense against bed bugs is to keep them away from you in the first place. This, of course, is easier said than done, given the small size and hardiness of these insects. There are, however, some guidelines that can help you prevent bed bugs from accompanying you in your travels.
Recognizing Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are small, oval shaped insects that grow to around the size of an apple seed. Because of their size, you will probably not notice them at first unless you are looking for them. Their color is brown, but after they feed on humans they become larger and more reddish in color. They are more likely to be visible late at night, so if you are inspecting a room during the day you may have to do some careful searching. These insects may hide in furniture, bedding, luggage, clothing or crevices of any kind.
Dangers of Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are parasitic creatures that live on blood. When they are present, you can be sure they will bite you. While bed bug bites are not usually dangerous, they can create rashes and other skin irritations. Some people are more sensitive to bites than others. Bed bugs can carry germs and bacteria such as MRSA, which can cause illnesses. The presence of these insects can also cause psychological issues as well as insomnia, as it can become difficult to sleep knowing that you are being bitten all night long.
Before Your Trip
You can help prevent bed bugs by using certain types of luggage. The best kind to use are hard shell or collapsible suitcases. Washable luggage is also helpful, as this allows you to decontaminate your bags after your trip. The worst kind of luggage are any type of bag or suitcase with lots of folds and seams where bugs can hide.
When traveling, you obviously want to avoid hotels, motels, B & Bs or hostels that harbor bed bugs. Since this isn’t something that hotels will advertise or even admit, it’s best to do your research ahead of time. It’s always a good idea to read reviews on travel sites before reserving a room. This isn’t a foolproof way to know if a place has bed bugs, but it can at least help you avoid places that are notorious for this.
Checking For Bed Bugs
When you travel, it’s important to thoroughly check for bed bugs everywhere you go. Overall, a clean and well cared for establishment is less likely to have bed bugs that one that is less sanitary. At the same time, bed bugs can hitch rides on suitcases and clothing, so all it takes for a room to be infested is for a prior guest to have brought them into the room. Ideally, any bugs would be removed by staff when the room is cleaned, but this isn’t always the case.
That’s why you should always check the room thoroughly and never assume anything, even if the place has a good reputation and looks clean and well maintained. Don’t bring any luggage or personal belongings into the room until your inspection is complete. When searching for bed bugs, use a flashlight and inspect the bed, including the headboard, furniture and any books or printed matter in the room. In addition to bugs themselves, look for evidence of their presence in the form of red or black dots. If you suspect that the room is infested, do not stay there even if staff try to convince you that there isn’t a problem.
In addition to rooms, bed bugs may be present in rental cars. You should therefore inspect a car the same way you would a room. Don’t forget to inspect the trunk if you are going to be using it to store items. Public transportation is another way that these versatile creatures can travel, so be wary when taking buses, metros, taxis and other types of transportation.
Safeguarding Your Belongings
Even after inspecting a room and not finding evidence of bed bugs, you should stay on the safe side. If you want to be extra careful, you might use some type of insecticide on your belongings before you travel. Make sure you get something that is made specifically for bed bugs. You can apply it to your suitcases and other luggage. This will make it less likely that bed bugs, if they are present, will crawl into your luggage while you’re traveling.
Another way to safeguard your luggage is to wrap it in large plastic bags while it’s in your hotel room. You should also be careful about where you store your luggage and belongings. Keep travel bags and clothing off the ground. Using hangers for clothing and keeping suitcases on dressers will make it harder for bugs to get into your personal belongings.
When You Return Home
Even if you did not see evidence of bed bugs on your trip, you should still take certain precautions when you return home. Washing and drying your clothes at a high temperature is the best way to kill any bed bugs that may have sneaked into your belongings during the trip. Extreme heat will get rid of them, so wash your clothes in hot water and dry them at the hottest possible setting.
You should also do another inspection of your luggage when you return home. Do this outside, as if you find any bugs you don’t want to bring them in the house. If you find any bed bugs, your best bet is to wash or discard anything, including the luggage itself, that was with you.