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Bed bugs have been around since the dawn of time, but in this modern era, with the increase in world travel--and travel in general--these bugs are getting out of control. Part of the problem lies in a lack of public awareness. If more people understood how these bugs spread, measures could be taken to isolate them, and stamp them out--much like we slow down the spread of a pathogen by washing our hands or staying inside. This guide will help you avoid bed bugs while on vacation, and prevent these nasty, little, blood eating bugs from coming back with you.

Before you travel

As you get ready to head out for your vacation, you'll want to take a quick second to make sure you're not heading into a nightmare. Navigate to the bed bug registry and put in the name of the hotel you will be visiting. This registry will tell you if the hotel you will be staying in has reported bed bugs, as well as reported hotels near that location. You'll also find reviews from folks who have reported bed bug incidents. This will give you a good gauge of what you're walking into. It's not perfect, but it will get you on the right track.

When you arrive at your room

It is always important to check for bed bugs when you arrive at your room. Bed bug infestations can happen at any time, and in the nicest of hotels. Here is a quick checklist that will help you assess your new living space.

  1. Don't bring your bags in until you have checked your room.

  2. If you only have a few bags, and you need to bring them up with you, place them on the tiled floor in the bathroom.

  3. Pull the blankets down to the bottom of the bed and look for little brown seed-like bugs.

  4. Look for tiny, brown blood stains on the sheet and on the pillow case. If you find these, but no bugs, the infestation could have been in another part of the hotel. Keep that in mind.

  5. Pull off the sheet and check the corners and edges of the boxspring and mattress for black fecal deposits. Bed bugs leave their excrement in the pores of mattresses.

  6. Use a flashlight to check the backboard and any upholstered furniture in the room.

  7. When you are satisfied that your room is clear, bring your bags in one at a time and use the luggage rack to keep them off the floor.

  8. After you've checked the room, it is safe to put your clothes in the dresser drawers but hanging them is better.

During your stay

If you hear of an infestation in a room above, below, or adjacent to yours, have the hotel give you another room, or check out. Bed bugs can use the wall voids to travel between rooms.

Some feel it is a good precaution to seal their luggage and bags in plastic, during their stay. Use your judgement as to whether or not you feel this is needed. At the very least, put dirty clothes in a sealed plastic bag and refrain from leaving clothes on the floor, or hanging them on a chair.

Returning home

Inspect your bags and vacuum the insides before you put your clothes in your bags. And, when you get home, wash and dry all of your clothing on the hottest temperature. This should kill any bugs that may have gotten into them on your trip.

These simple steps can save you a ton of misery while on vacation, and when you return home. When traveling, you should always be aware of your surroundings. Checking for bed bugs is just one more way to keep you and your family safe.