Recently Bed Bugs have been a common topic in USA news, due to the alarming increase of bed bug reports across the country.  The USA has never typically had a major bed bug problem so this news is scaring the country and it’s travelers.  The increase in bed bugs reports in hotel/hostel accommodation is said to be approximately 15% as of the beginning of 2010.  It has even seen extremes of a Victoria’s Secret and an Abercrombie and Fitch store in New York forced to temporarily close due to a bed bug problem!

As a child I always thought the saying ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite’ was a joke…….but I quickly learned when I began traveling that it was not!  I don’t want to dwell too much on the facts about bed bugs that will make you cringe, I just want to give you some tips on how to avoid encountering bed bugs while traveling……and if you do encounter them, what you should do to prevent taking them onto the next hostel or worse, home.

1.  Check the reviews of the accommodation you plan on using before you book it.  If people have had a bad experience with bed bugs in a hotel/hostel, they are likely to write a review about it.  Just one or two reviews is not a big deal, especially if the victim advised the hotel owners of the problem, but too many reviews referring to bed bugs is a bad sign.

2.  Always check a room for bed bugs when you check-in.  Bed bugs like to live in the creases of mattresses and couches, edges of carpets, and any little creases they can find.  Always take the linens off the bed and check the creases of the mattress.  Bed bugs like to crowd together, so you will usually find them all sitting in the same spot.  They are very small, so keep your eyes peeled.  They are nocturnal creatures, so they won't just be crawling around the room during the day.  You will have to search for them.  You can also look out for their eggs or droppings.  If you see a dusting of something that resembles coffee grinds anywhere in the room, that is a good sign that bed bugs are likely to be nearby.  If you find bed bugs, or think they are present in the room, request another room and let reception know that you have found bed bugs.

3.  Never unpack your luggage into drawers or leave it on the floor or near the wall.  Use luggage racks or hostel lockers.

4.  Always travel with a hard-cased suitcase without a fabric lining, or a backpack that you can put through a washing machine or hot dryer if needed.  If you encounter bed bugs you will need to wash all of your clothing and anything you will be taking out of the infested room.  The best way to kill bed bugs is from intense heat, that is why washing your clothes in hot water and putting them through an extremely hot dryer is the best way to prevent them from coming with you to your next destination.  You also need to ensure anything else you are carrying with you like your backpack or your laptop bag also goes through the wash.  You can also get bed bug spray to prevent them from traveling with you on items you cannot wash, but this is not as effective as exposing them to extreme heat.

Unfortunately bed bugs are not always responsive to insect spray or repellant, so extreme heat is the best way ensure you have taken care of the bugs.  It can be very difficult to get rid of bed bugs once they get into your home, so make sure you are positive all traces are gone before you get home.  I recommend throwing away your luggage before you get home……you can keep the clothes, just make sure you have washed them until they cannot be washed anymore!!!

Whatever you do, don’t let the thought of bed bugs scare you from traveling.  I traveled through Europe for two years, and following these guidelines prevented bed bugs from ever getting further than a few bites…….if that.  The best advice I can give you, is it doesn’t matter how clean a place is, there can still be bedbugs present.  Safe travels!

If this information hasn’t scared you, and is somehow making you wish you could travel right now, visit us at TravAddict for some great deals!!!!