spotting bed bugs at hotels

Travel Trends :: Bed Bug Proofing Your Hotel Room

[trip style = any]

One unfortunate travel trend that never seems to go away is bed bugs. They are everywhere, from campsite yurts to hostels, and 3-stars to ritzy retreats. Bed bugs are travelers too, spreading on birds, bats, humans and suitcases to name a few culprits. They also travel well given their ability to live for 6-12 months without food.

The Nature of the Beast Though bed bugs are everywhere, and their infestation levels go in ebbs and flows, being in Australia's Whitsundays {think multiple backpackers on party boats with bunks} and NYC recently reminded me it was still a big problem, and will forever be a problem. It's the nature of the beast. Like Lauren mentioned yesterday in her Travel Beauty feature, I too saw big groups of protesters outside hotels. These people weren't kidding around, they even had a Macy's Day parade-sized bed bug prop. As the scene was intended, it made my mind wander and my body itchy just thinking about it.

About two years ago I got serious about the prevention and detection of bed bugs, going through a routine every time I check into a hotel room, stay in a yurt, etc... Here are some precautions I use based on the wisdom of others who have experienced the bugs and written about them before me:

Bed Bug Proofing Your Hotel Room

  • Before you even book, check to see if the hotel you're thinking about reserving has been listed in the Bed Bug Registry {a user-generated site noting bed bug detection areas in Canada and the US}.
  • When you enter your hotel room, lock the door and place your luggage on a stand in or near the bathroom---not near the bed, furniture or curtains.
  • Even if you're tired, don't throw your belongings---even an innocent little scarf---on the bed or a chair.
  • Immediately conduct a 2-minute investigation of the room to look for reddish brown bugs the size of a small apple seed and droppings the size and appearance of pepper flakes. Note that bed bugs like to hang in groups.
  • Check: on and behind the bed's headboard {I always start with this, and get eye level with it in order to see critters more accurately}, foundation, box spring and dark crevices as well as the furniture.
  • If you think you spot bed bugs, smell the area. They are known to have a musky sweet scent like almonds.

Dealing With Bed Bugs

  • If you think you see bed bugs, speak the hotel immediately, and DO NOT accept a room near the potential infestation site.
  • Get the BedbugLogic Protection & Treatment Spray like Lauren talked about yesterday in her Travel Beauty post to remove any bugs you think may have got near your gear or clothing.
  • Once you get home, if you still suspect bed bugs, vacuum and steam clean your suitcase {not in your house} and wash clothes and dry on the dryer's hottest setting to kill all stages of bugs.

Finally, I will leave you with this: when you travel with a carry-on, there is less chance for it to come in contact with other bags {and bugs!!!} if it is always with you.

[photo by Medill DC]