If you’re sleeping somewhere other than home, beware. Bedbug prevalence is on the rise, and hotels and motels are some of their favorite hangouts.
These critters can cause severe itching and welt-like bites. What’s more, research suggests they can cause financial distress, anxiety, and social isolation.
With these easy tips, you can cut your chances of critter trouble while on the road.
Head straight for the bathroom
Before you check out your hotel room’s minibar or oceanfront view, give it a thorough bedbug inspection—and until you’ve done that, stash your luggage in the bathroom.
Bedbugs are least likely to be found in the bathroom. They don’t like the tile floors and there aren’t as many hiding places. They like to be closer to where people may be sleeping.
Inspect the bed
Here’s how to check for a bedbug infestation: Pull back the linens, and check all the way around and under the mattress and behind the headboard.
Look for blood stains or small black dots that look like mold or ground pepper. Check for the critters too. Bedbugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed, and you may find them hiding in corners or seams of the bedding.
If you see any suspicious signs, alert the hotel staff immediately.
Check the room
Next, broaden your bedbug search to the area immediately surrounding the bed: behind picture frames, under the telephone and alarm clock, and even in books.
Studies have shown that most bedbugs are found in or within 15 feet of a bed, but some may still be further away. Check in the cushions and seams of any couches or soft chairs, and in the closet before putting your clothes away.
Keep luggage off the ground
Leaving suitcases and bags on the floor—or on a second spare bed—may be one way to bring home an unwanted guests.
For the duration of your trip, keep your bags on the desktop, on top of the dresser, or on a luggage rack in the room. (Don’t leave clothing lying out, either!)
If you don’t like to make waves, it may be tempting to stick with the room you’ve got, despite a little dirt on the mattress.
Now’s the time to be a little bolder and ask the right questions. You do not want to be a victim, especially when most hotels will move you without question and will do a proper inspection right away. They don’t want their guests to leave the hotel with bedbugs and they don’t want the problem to go untreated, either.
Ask about bedbug prevention plans
Prior to check-in, ask the hotel what practices they’ve put in place to deal with bedbug prevention and treatment.
Many hotels conduct proactive inspections and work with pest management companies to quickly remedy any problems.
Read reviews (cautiously)
With a little Internet research, it’s easy to find out if bedbugs have been reported at your hotel: The Bed Bug Registry, for example, is a free online database of user-submitted reports across North America. Travel sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp may also offer clues in their customer reviews.
However, be careful of how much stock you put in these resources. There’s no accountability or verification of what people are posting.
Have a post-vacation plan
When you return home from vacation, wash all your clothing—even the items you didn’t wear—in hot water. Bedbugs can’t survive in temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit. (Sending delicates to the dry cleaner will work, too.)
Inspect and vacuum out your suitcases before storing them away, as well—and if you’ve invested in a plastic luggage case, keep it sealed up until you need it next.
Watch for bedbug bite marks
Bite marks are one sign that you may have brought bedbugs home with you. They often bite in a line-shaped pattern, in threes: In the industry we call that breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Itching or bites alone aren’t enough to confirm an infestation, however. If you experience these symptoms, you’ll need a professional home evaluation before you can seek treatment.
Call a professional
Bedbugs are not a do-it-yourself pest. If you suspect that you’ve brought home bedbugs from a recent vacation, contact Bed Bugs 911, LLC to conduct an inspection.
A professional will look around your bed for signs of the insects. Once an infestation is confirmed, we may use heat or pesticide methods to clear your home. Quick action is best to get rid of bed bugs from your home. A small and confined infestation is easier to deal with than if bed bugs are found throughout your home.
Don’t make yourself crazy
Bedbugs have been found in all 50 states, in many locations—rural, urban, and suburban. “They’re an equal-opportunity pest.” They can be in budget properties as well as four-star resorts.
Panic and paranoia doesn’t help at all. Vigilance is the most important thing—doing an inspection— as that is going to minimize your likelihood of an infestation.