5 Simple Travel Tips to Avoid Exposure to Bed Bugs

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Reports of bed bug infestations throughout the country are common, even in luxury hotels. As a result, it is important that travelers take the necessary steps to avoid bed bugs, which can easily take an unnoticed ride back to infest your own home especially during summertime during the height of travel season.

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Bed bugs are a pest that most people have certainly heard of, but few expected them to become a serious problem in this country again. However, due to pesticide resistance, increased international travel, poor public education and insufficient or non-existent pest control laws, bed bugs have made a marked resurgence in the US and around the world over the past decade.

Bed bugs are not pleasant, especially if we think about them invading our homes while we sleep. In order to prevent an infestation at home, it is necessary to take precautions while traveling. Bed bugs are not tied to cleanliness so they can be found from budget motels to the finest hotels and resorts.

Consider the following easy tips to help minimize the chances that you’ll be sharing your bed with bed bugs.

1. Plan ahead. Check out internet customer reviews of a hotel or motel before you check in. The proliferation of smart phones makes it easier than ever to access the internet on the road. Bring along bed bug-proof products such as specialized pillow protectors, suitcase liners and laundry bags.

2. Inspect the room and bedding. Take a few minutes for a brief, simple inspection prior to bringing your luggage and other belongings into the room. Check beds for signs of bed bug activity such as fecal staining (which look like felt tip marker dots), cast skins or bugs themselves. Focus on areas within five feet of where people sleep (beds, couches, chairs, etc.), especially in mattress seams, box springs, behind headboards and picture frames, and along baseboards. If you see signs of bed bugs, notify the hotel and demand another room or switch hotels.

3. Keep luggage sequestered. Avoid putting your luggage down on the floor, bed or on chairs. At a minimum, use luggage racks to keep items off the floor. If possible, put your suitcases on a tiled floor in the bathroom or in the bathtub where bedbugs are less likely to be hiding. They will also be a lot easier to see if they do attempt to hitch a ride home in your suitcase.

4. Seal belongings in plastic. You could also keep your luggage sealed in large plastic bags to keep bed bugs out. This is a tip that is also useful if you are traveling by air, bus, taxi or train since your luggage may be placed close to infested luggage belonging to other passengers.

5. Clean everything thoroughly. Upon returning home, keep luggage outside the house while you carefully inspect and clean all the items. Launder clothing in hot water or place belongings in a pillow case and put in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes to kill any bed bugs or eggs. Inspect and vacuum out suitcases and shoes for any bedbug eggs that may have been laid in these areas.

Although a painstaking inspection of your hotel room is probably the last thing you want to do when checking in after a long day of travel, doing so, along with cleaning your items when you return home can save you the misery and expense that would result from bringing bed bugs back to make themselves at home in your home.

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Karen Smith
Batzner Pest Management
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