Traveling Bed Bugs

A red suitcase is on a bed with clothes spilling out. Someone is sitting atop the suitcase trying to get it closed. A bed bug is on the bed in the foreground.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Traveling

Travel is the most common cause of a bed bug infestation. Hotels, even the very nicest and expensive ones, can be infested. Unfortunately, it’s also possible to get them from an unaware friend or family member. The following steps help prevent bringing home these unwanted houseguests:

Before you travel

  • Consider hard shell luggage; This option provides fewer seams and cracks for them to hide.
  • Invest in sealable plastic bags, and pack clothing, shoes, and toiletries inside them. Only open the plastic bags to use an item, then be sure to reseal the bag. 
  • Pack a small flashlight to help you inspect your room. 

Once you arrive

  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room before doing anything else. Use that handy flashlight you packed for this purpose. 
  • Pull back the sheets, and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, the sides of the mattress, and the box spring and frame. Then take a look behind the headboard for telltale stains or spots. Use a flashlight if necessary. 
  • Take a look under and around nightstands and lamps and in the pleats of upholstered furniture and drapes. Bed bugs lodge themselves into cracks, crevices, folds, and ruffles. They’re also known to reside behind wall hangings, such as mirrors and paintings.

What are the signs of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat, and generally a reddish-brown color. They leave pin-like marks and dark brown or black fecal stains on mattresses, upholstery, drapes, and walls where they hide. You may see tiny white eggs loosely stuck to crevices between fabrics or wooden surfaces — although they could be anywhere. Bed bugs shed their skins, so look for shells ranging in color from clear to brown. 

What should I do if I find bed bugs when traveling?

If you see any hints that there are bedbugs in your hotel room, notify management and change rooms immediately. When switching rooms, don’t accept one directly adjacent, above, or below the infested one. Bedbugs can easily hitch a ride to neighboring spaces via housekeeping carts, wall sockets, and luggage.  

After making the switch, inspect again. Always use a metal luggage rack if it’s available. If not, avoid putting your luggage on the bed or floor. If there aren’t any other options, consider putting your items in a large garbage bag as a barrier. 

If you are staying with a friend or family member, switching to a hotel might be your best choice.

Look for bed bugs when you get home.

Even just a few bed bugs can start a full-blown infestation, should they hitch a ride back to your home. Be sure to conduct a thorough inspection of your luggage outside or in the garage. If you live in an apartment, use your balcony, bathtub, or shower. Bedbugs have a more challenging time crawling up smooth surfaces and are easier to spot against light colors.

When inspecting, pay special attention to pockets, linings, and seams. Consider thoroughly vacuuming or steam cleaning the luggage before stowing it away. A heated garment steamer works excellently for this and will kill any bed bugs that may have evaded detection thus far. Bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive temperatures over 122 degrees.

Wash all of your clothes, even those you didn’t wear, and dry with high heat for at least 30 minutes, whenever possible. This will kill any previously undetected bed bugs. 

Don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Despite your best efforts, sometimes those tricky bed bugs make it into your home. If so, it’s time to get professional help. 855Bugs will inspect, treat, and do follow-up inspections as needed. We can eliminate the nightmare, so you get back to sleeping confidently again.


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