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Bed Bug Tips for Travelers
“Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite!” Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you’re traveling and staying in a lot of different hotels. But these little nuisances shouldn’t keep you from taking a vacation. Follow these tips to learn how you can prevent bringing home bed bugs when you travel.
Before You Arrive
The chance of picking up bed bugs while traveling is always something to be worried about. Before you leave for your trip, consider the following:
The best, and probably the most obvious, way to prevent bed bug bites is to first avoid staying in places that have them. Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that your chosen hotel won’t have any of these unwanted critters. Check out the online reviews of the hotel or resort you’re staying at; if a lot of people are complaining about infestations and itchy welts, you’re better off booking somewhere else. Sites like TripAdvisor and the Bed Bug Registry are great resources for this information. And, don’t let misconceptions get in the way; bed bugs don’t discriminate and can be found in all types of places, from budget motels to luxurious suites.
Bring large zip-lock travel bags with you. These are ideal for storing both clean and dirty laundry and to prevent any potential beg bugs from attaching themselves to the fibers of your clothes.
Large disposable plastic bags are also handy for using over your luggage when you plan to leave it inside your room.
While You’re There
Once you arrive at your new lodging, there’s a few things you’ll want to do before settling in. These include:
Consider leaving your luggage and personal belongings in your vehicle, or with the hotel’s front desk, before you enter your room and inspect it. If all else fails, place your luggage within your hotel room’s bathtub.
Avoid leaving your luggage on the hotel’s carpet.
Do not unpack your luggage on top of the mattress. If there are beg bugs present, they can very easily crawl across fibered materials and into your luggage and clothing.
Thoroughly inspect your room, bed, and furniture. Before you flop down on the bed, check the mattress and surrounding areas for any signs of a bed bug infestation: pull back the covers, flip the pillows, and lift the mattress. Bed bugs bear a strong resemblance to apple seeds in both shape and size. They might also leave behind bits of dried blood excrement, so take care to notice any red-brown dots. If you do find evidence of an infestation, contact hotel management immediately. Notify them of the situation, and at the very least, request to be moved to another room. It’s likely that other rooms in the same establishment will also have bed bugs though, so if possible, ask for a reimbursement and see if you can stay at another location entirely.
If You Do Get Bit…
Even after a thorough inspection of your hotel room and bed, it may not always be obvious to you that there is a bed bug infestation. Afterall, when a bed bug is not full of blood, it can be quite difficult to see as they measure between 5 -7 mm. If you wake up in the morning and notice itchy red bumps on your skin, don’t panic, consider the following:
Bed bug bites can look very similar to other common bug bites, like those of mosquitoes or fleas. If you notice increased itchiness at night and bites in lines or groupings, you’ve likely been bitten by a bed bug.
While bed bugs are certainly very annoying, they don’t carry any known diseases and shouldn’t be a significant problem for most people. You can treat itchy bites by washing them with soap or applying anti-itch cream. It’s best to avoid scratching the bites, as this can lead to further irritation.
Some people may be allergic to bed bug bites, which can then turn those itchy welts into a more serious issue. If you notice symptoms such as excessive swelling or a rash, take an antihistamine pill or apply an antihistamine ointment, such as Benadryl, and see a health care professional immediately.
After You Get Back
If you have any suspicion that you may have accidentally brought some critters home with you, you should take the following precautions:
Do not immediately bring your luggage and belongings into your home. Leave your luggage outside on the porch or in the garage.
Transfer your clothing directly from your luggage into your washing machine. This can help prevent any stowaway bed bugs from falling off your clothes and into your home.
Once emptied, vacuum your luggage. This includes the exterior, and interior, paying close attention to all the pockets, folds, and seams on the bag. Immediately dispose of the contents within the vacuum in an exterior garbage can/dumpster.
In addition to vacuuming, consider using a hand steamer to steam the inside and outside of your luggage. This will kill any remaining bed bugs or eggs.
Inspect the remaining belongings carefully for any signs of infestation, and only bring your luggage into the house once everything has been carefully looked over and cleaned.
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