Bedbugs have plagued us for decades. The worst part is that these sneaky creatures can travel and spread very easily. In recent years, bedbug numbers have started to rise. According to a survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), one in five Americans has come across bedbugs at home or at a hotel.
The worst part is dealing with bedbugs when you are traveling. Just because you are on vacation does not mean that your belongings cannot be infested. In fact, if you come home with infested clothes or suitcases, you risk infesting the rest of your house. This is why it is absolutely crucial that you check for bedbugs when you are traveling or staying in an unknown place.
Here are some ways you can check for bedbugs when traveling:
Do Your Research Before Booking a Hotel Room
On the internet, you will find information about the top 50 bedbug cities. This information is updated every single year. In 2015, Chicago was on the top, with New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles in the top five list.
Sadly, there is no way to know whether a hotel has bedbugs or not. However, your research can help you determine whether the city you are staying in has a history of bedbugs. Once you determine this, you can use websites like TripAdvisor and Facebook to read reviews and warnings.
The Bedbug Registry is another website that is a public registry that reports hotels and apartments that have been known to have bedbug problems. However, the only problem with information found online is determining how true it is. Sometimes, fake reviews can be posted to defame a hotel. Moreover, if a hotel had a bedbug issue in the past, it does not necessarily mean that it is still dealing with bedbugs.
Carefully Inspect Your Room Before You Unpack
Experts suggest that when you enter a hotel room, the best thing to do is to place your baggage and suitcases on a luggage rack. If you can’t find a luggage rack, put your things in the bathroom. Whatever you do, do not place any of your belongings on the bed or the floor until you are absolutely sure that there are no bedbugs.
Start inspecting the bed first. Grab a flashlight and carefully check the headboard and the space behind it. Don’t forget the mattress seams. Remember, adult bedbugs do not have wings and are reddish-brown in color. They are shaped like an oval and are as big as an apple seed. Young bed bugs, on the other hand, are white in color and have the shape of a teardrop.
If you cannot find any bedbugs, look for tiny spots of blood on the bedsheets. These, too, can indicate an infestation. Black spots indicate areas where bedbugs commonly hide. You should check the curtains, upholstered furniture, and any fabric you find in your hotel room. Even if you cannot find any obvious signs of bedbugs, we would recommend not hanging any clothes in the closet or placing your suitcase on the dresser.
Moreover, it is best to invest in a hard-shell suitcase. This is because bedbugs cannot cling to hard-shell suitcases the way they cling to fabric suitcases.
Let the Front Desk Know if You Find Bedbugs
Sometimes, bedbugs are hard to spot. However, if you wake up with itchy boils or redness on your skin, you should assume that your room is infested with bedbugs. Immediately call up the front desk and let them know your problem. Together, you can discuss what to do.
In the case of a hotel, you should be offered another room as soon as possible. However, do not opt for rooms close to the infested ones. This includes rooms that are indoor, above, and below. In case of a heavy infestation, there are chances that the bedbugs have traveled to other rooms. Since bedbugs are tiny, it is no surprise that they can find their way through pipes, ducts, and telephone lines.
Every hotel you go to will have a standard procedure for handling bedbugs. However, if you are not comfortable, you can always ask for the situation to be handled in a particular way.
Take Safety Measures Upon Returning Home
It is always better to be careful if you have doubts that you have been exposed to a bedbug infestation. Before you pack your clothes, secure them in sealed plastic bags. When you get home, wash them in hot water and dry them on a high-heat setting. If you have things that cannot be put in hot water, such as shoes, simply use a hairdryer on the hottest setting to dry them for 30 minutes.
If you own a soft-shell suitcase, you must use a stiff brush to clean it. Then, vacuum it thoroughly. Do not dispose of the waste in a normal bin. Instead, fill it in a sealed trash bag. Research shows that you can also use a hairdryer on your suitcase on the highest setting. Even though this will not kill the bedbugs, it will expose them. In case the bedbugs infest your home, get in touch with a professional as soon as possible so that you can contain the infestation.