Tips to Protect Yourself from a Bed Bug Infestation While Traveling This Holiday Season
If you are one of the 47% of Americans traveling this holiday season, you’re likely spending some time in a hotel, motel, plane, train or rental car. Taking a break from normal life and spending time with loved ones should be the real focus of the season, so it would be a shame if something small put a damper on your travels. Something like…bed bugs.
97% of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in the past year, with hotels and motels being one of the top places to find them. Unfortunately, a majority of professionals say overall bed bug service work is increasing and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Luckily, there is plenty you can do to protect yourself and your family against these creepy crawly pests so you can continue on your travels unscathed.
The Lowdown on Bed Bugs
Before you start preparing and inspecting for bed bugs, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and are reddish brown in color. They are also flat and wingless. These nocturnal creatures feed at night and will usually hide close to their food source (you) during the day, which is why you typically see them hiding in mattresses, pillows, clothing, etc.
You don’t have to wait until you see a bed bug to take action, there is plenty you can do preemptively. Hard shelled suitcases, as opposed to their fabric counterparts, are recommended as they reduce the amount of folds and seams where bed bugs can hide. Wrap your clothing and shoes in plastic bags to cut off a bed bug’s access. Keep them in plastic bags throughout your travels, only opening the bags when items are needed. Lastly, avoid the instinct to put your suitcase on the bed or chair to unpack. Instead, use the provided luggage racks to keep your belongings off the floor and away from high traffic areas. The bathroom is also a possible storage area if a luggage rack isn’t available.
Even if you’re staying in a top of the line hotel, bed bugs can find their way inside. Before you get settled in your room, put on your exterminator hat for a minute and take a look around.
- Use a flashlight to inspect the bed. Pull back the covers to check the sheets, pillows and linens. Then move down to the mattress, box spring and frame, being sure to look in the seams and sides.
- Then, check the areas immediately surrounding the bed such as nightstands, headboards and lamps. Bed bugs usually don’t roam too far from the food source.
- Then, expand your search to the rest of the room, checking other upholstered furniture and curtains. Inspect behind wall hangings, mirrors and any wallpaper seams too.
Aside from the bugs themselves, you should look out for small brown and red spots on sheets and upholstery. You may also notice a sweet, musty odor in the room similar to soda pop, which is a sign of an infestation. If you see any of these signs in a hotel, rental car or public transportation, ask to be moved immediately.
When you return home, unpack your suitcase in a garage, hallway or outdoor space so you don’t bring any potential hitchhikers into your living area. Do a thorough inspection of your belongings, paying special attention to the nooks and crannies. Vacuum and steam clean your suitcase before putting it back into storage. And as a final precaution, wash all of your clothing (even the clean stuff) on a high-heat setting to kill any stowaways once and for all.
Call the Professionals
If you suspect a bed bug infestation or see telltale signs of one, don’t try to treat it yourself. Call your local Pestmaster for professional treatment. Our expert technicians will do a thorough inspection of your home and provide a customized treatment plan depending on the problem and your living situation.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule service.