How To Avoid Bed Bugs In Hotels While Traveling

By Matthew Cenzon. May 7th 2016

Bed bugs are creepy little critters commonly associated with poor sanitation levels, but in an article from MSNBC, bug expert, Harold Harlan, explains that even the cleanest living area can have a large infestation of bed bugs. Perhaps this is due to the fact that bedbugs are such savvy hitchhikers and can pop up just about anywhere. Adding these two factors together means that finding a bed bug in your hotel room is a definite possibility. If the idea of a blood-feasting little bugger could be joining you on your next vacation gives you the willies, you may want to go over these tips on how to avoid bed bugs in hotels.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny little insects that survive off of human blood. These pests are commonly found in a person's mattress where they are busy at work during the night, feasting on unsuspecting sleepers. Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, making them difficult to spot, yet they are more visible than other common pests, like fleas or ticks. Bed bugs are usually a brownish-red color and can turn bright red while they are feeding.

While bed bugs aren't considered dangerous and do not spread disease, they can be quite a nuisance from the itchy bug bites they leave on a person's skin. Bed bug bites have a tendency to swell into red, itchy bumps, though some people don't suffer any reaction at all. Bed bugs are prone to surviving for up to several months without any food or water, which allows them to dwell within hotel furniture for long periods of time.

How Could A Bed Bug End Up In My Hotel Room?

Bed bug infestation within a hotel is commonly linked with hotel guests bringing the pests in themselves. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, and can manage to find their way onto a hotel guest's luggage, whether on the luggage itself or within a person's packed clothing. Once a hotel guest has brought the bed bugs into the hotel, infestation begins as the bed bugs make their way to cracks and crevices in hotel furniture. A busy hotel has a higher probability of becoming infested with bed bugs due to the high volume of traffic, especially during travel seasons.

Identifying A Bed Bug

Now that you have an idea of what a bed bug looks like and how it might have gotten into your hotel room, here is a list of what you should be looking for when inspecting the room for bed bugs:

  • Dead bed bug carcasses (remember, they are about the size of apple seeds, so look carefully).
  • Small dark spots from bed bug fecal matter.
  • Blood stains from crushed bed bugs.
  • Of course, the bed bugs themselves.

Inspecting The Bed

Before you plop down on your hotel bed, make sure you give it a proper inspection for bed bugs. Don't just stop at checking under the sheets and mattress, go the extra mile and inspect the headboard and box spring as well. Also make sure to check the seams of the mattress thoroughly. Of course, you could always undo the sheets and shake them out to remove any potential bed bugs, which some people tend to do. However, they can always crawl right back, so it's better to identify them and notify the hotel staff, rather than trying to get rid of them yourself.

Inspecting The Rest Of The Hotel Room

Once you've given the bed a proper inspection, check the furniture closest to the bed, next. Look for any signs of bed bugs on nightstands or end tables besides the bed. If your hotel room features a bench at the foot of the bed, check that as well. Cracks or crevices in the flooring are another place for bed bugs to burrow. Finally, go through the hotel room sofa and chairs, and make sure you look over the cushioning.

Bed Bugs On Your Luggage

Hotel guest luggage is the common culprit for a bed bug infestation. To avoid transferring a bed bug onto your bed, never place your luggage on the bed itself. In fact, keep your luggage as far away from the bed and other furniture as possible. Many health experts suggest keeping your luggage in the bathroom, but if that bothers you, try leaving your luggage close to the hotel room door.

What To Do If You See Signs Of Bed Bugs

If you spot any signs of bed bugs in your hotel room, notify the hotel staff immediately. Although you may have found bed bugs in your room, it is possible for them to relocate you to another hotel room that is free of any bed bugs; unless you are transporting them in your luggage, which is why it is important to keep luggage away from your hotel room furniture. The hotel will notify an exterminator to free the room of any bed bugs. Most hotels will even offer to launder any of your clothing if you feel it has been contaminated.


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