If you travel frequently, whether for leisure or business, you are at an increased risk of bringing home bed bugs. Bed bugs don't discriminate; they're just as likely to inhabit a five-star hotel in a fancy tourist area as they are a discount motel just off the highway. Worse, bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Since the best treatment for bed bugs is to prevent them in the first place, take a look at this list of things you can do to discourage these bloodthirsty little hitchhikers from becoming unwanted vacation souvenirs.
Inspect Your Hotel Room
Upon entering your hotel room, place your suitcase on a table or the luggage rack and use a flashlight to check for signs of bed bug activity. Since you probably won't see bed bugs walking around, particularly during the day, you'll need to do some detective work. The signs you'll be looking for include molted shells, tiny rust-colored stains on the mattress, and, if you're lucky, live (or dead) bedbugs themselves.
These signs are likely to be hiding in dark corners near or on the bed. Pull back the bottom sheet and check the seams of the mattress and under the pillows. Also, look in any crevices around the headboard of the bed. If you see signs of bed bugs, take your things and either ask for a new room or look for a different hotel.
Keep Your Suitcase Safe
While having bed bugs in bed with you at your hotel is probably enough to make you want to scream, it's worse if they get into your luggage and accompany you to your home. Even if you don't see any bed bug activity, treat your suitcase as though the room is infested. Keep your luggage and personal items, including your shoes, off of the floor.
If you run out of room on your luggage rack and table, place things on the bathroom counter. You can leave the bathroom light on overnight to dissuade any bugs from waking up and coming out of their bathroom hiding places.
Check Your Luggage Before Leaving
Before you leave to go home, give your suitcase a good once-over. Use your flashlight to inspect the seams of the case, lifting the items out to check underneath. Once you are satisfied that your suitcase is bug-free, pack your belongings inside, close it up, and keep it on a raised surface until it's time to walk out the door.
Be Aware of Bed Bug Bite Symptoms
Once you get home and unpack, the process of watching for bed bugs begins. You don't have to go crazy looking for them, but do be aware of the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites. Usually, bites cause mild itching and welts. The bites might be in a pattern or scattered randomly on exposed body parts. A very few people are severely allergic to bed bug bites; if you are one of them and experience hives or difficulty breathing, seek medical assistance immediately.
If you are getting bitten (or if you see any of the signs you looked for in the hotel), your best bet is to call pest control services immediately. A pest control company can get your bed bug problem under control. Home remedies for bed bugs don't typically work. Once you have a few bed bugs, an infestation is likely, so it's best to nip the problem in the bud right away once you notice it.
Traveling does not have to cause you stress that you'll bring home unwanted guests. Keep aware of your bedtime surroundings and stay vigilant for signs of bed bug activity, but don't let the fear of bed bugs curtail your vacation plans.