When you go on a trip, whether it be for business or pleasure, the last thing you need to be dealing with is the possibility of bringing bed bugs home with you from your travels. Bed bugs are hitchhikers and love to travel from place to place in clothing, luggage, rental cars and even public transportation. This bed bug prevention guide, courtesy of NYC Bed Bug Force, goes over the various ways to identify and check for bed bugs on the road and how to prevent them from coming home with you.
Bed Bug Identification
Obviously, in order to prevent bed bugs you need to understand what you’re looking for. Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and do not fly. They crawl, have a brown-reddish color to their bodies and a slightly elliptical shape. They often appear rather ‘flat’ looking, which allows them to squeeze into tiny areas. Signs of bed bugs include their fecal matter, which appears as black spots that resembles black pepper. This is a sign of a current or previous bed bug infestation and should be a giant red flag if spotted.
Preparing for Your Trip
Before embarking on that journey, keep in mind some things you should do to help mitigate the risks of picking up bed bugs:
- Bring a flashlight for inspections
- Use a hardshell or collapsible suitcase if possible
- Wrap your suitcase in a plastic bag for added protection
- Read reviews carefully and avoid hotels/hostels with any history of bed bugs
Inspecting Your Hotel Room
When you first enter your hotel room, be sure to bring your luggage directly to the bathroom, so you can perform an inspection of the room. The bathroom area is not preferable to bed bugs due to slippery surfaces and little if any hiding places.
Inspect your room in the following areas as thoroughly as possible looking for live bed bugs or signs of fecal matter (black spots resembling pepper flakes):
- Sheets & pillows
- Box spring
- Nightstands & screwholes
- Odds & ends like alarm clocks & books
After you have determined that you are in the clear, be sure to transfer your luggage out of the bathroom and onto surfaces that are off the ground. It’s important to keep your belongings off the ground at all times to prevent bed bugs from crawling into them.
If you do find signs of bed bugs in your room, be sure to ask for another room immediately or find a different hotel entirely.
Inspecting Rental Cars
While, it may not seem like a likely problem, bed bugs often can be found in rental cars as well. Given the nature of rental cars and the fact that they are often used to transport luggage of many travelers, they can easily end up in a car that you just paid to drive.
When inspecting your rental car, be sure to check the following areas:
- Main trunk area
- Under the spare tire
- Back & front seats
- Tire wells
If you find any sign of bed bugs in your rental car, be sure to return it immediately and ask for a new vehicle.
Preventing Bed Bugs when Arriving Home
Undoubtedly the most important step is to make sure that you don’t end up infecting your own home with anything that may have snuck by you during your trip.
Even the most keen and careful eye could have missed a single bed bug during your worldly affairs. Upon arriving home, be sure to inspect your luggage thoroughly outside of your home, whether in a driveway or garage.
Be sure to take the following steps upon arrival:
- Wash all clothing in hot water
- Inspect seams, folds & zippers in your luggage
- Be 100% sure, there are absolutely no signs of bed bugs before entering your home
Knowledge is Power
Understanding how to identify, inspect and prevent bed bugs is your first step to banning them from ever entering your life and stopping their spread. By implementing a preventative approach whenever you take a trip, you’ll be ensuring that you have very little chances of ever picking up these nasty critters and saving yourself headache, anxiety and possibly thousands of dollars of extermination costs. Follow these basic steps during your next trip and stay bed bug free for good.
Check out the infographic below on bed bug prevention for more information on the prevention process.
Have you experienced bed bugs during your travels or when you returned home?
How did you handle this problem?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.