How To Check For Bed Bugs When Traveling

By | April 29, 2016

how to check for bed bugs when travelingIt occurred to me that as much as I have written about how to kill these bugs I’ve not written much about how to check for bed bugs when traveling.

In both situations the process for checking for the bugs would be about the same but when you are staying in a hotel or motel away from home your focus is on avoiding these bugs unlike when you are at home and are trying to exterminate bedbugs.

Finding Bed Bugs When You Travel

Whether you are traveling for pleasure or business there is a good chance that at some point you are going to run across some bedbugs.  There have been reported cases of infestations showing up in Hotels and Motels across the country.

And it doesn’t happen only in run down or dirty motels – it can happen in the cleanest and best known of brand names so wherever you go you should alway do a check for bed bugs when you are traveling.

Bed Bugs are great hitchhikers that travel around the globe hitching rides in bags and boxes.  So whether you do run into bed bugs or not you should always make sure to check for them in your room to make sure that you don’t bring any of these nasty bugs home with you.

When I check into a new hotel/motel and go to my room I always take the same simple steps to make sure the room is free of bugs.

The First Step In Avoiding Bed Bugs When You Travel

One of the most important and first steps that you should take to avoid bed bugs when you travel is to search on-line for any comments from people that have stayed in the hotels/motels that you are planning on staying in.

Even though these reviews may be somewhat dated it can be a way to give you a heads up on potential problems and if there are reports of bedbugs at any place that you are planning on staying at you should probably change your plans.

It’s just not worth the potential risk of getting a bed bug infestation so step one – check online.

Checking Your Room

Controlling Bed BugsOnce I arrive at the hotel/motel I’ll always start by blocking the door open with my bag without bringing it into the room so I can check the room first.  You can also put your bags in the bathroom since this is one of the last rooms that bed bugs would infest,  This way, in case there are bugs in the room they won’t get into my suitcase.

Then I head straight for the bed – this is where you are going to find bugs if there is any infestation and you are going to find the signs of an infestation here first as well.

I will always start looking around the bed since studies have shown that more than 90% of infestations are found around the bed simply because that is where we sleep.

During the night when we are nice and quiet the bedbugs like to come out and safely feed on us while we aren’t moving but they also want to hide close to where we sleep during the day to make it easier for them to get to us the next night.

These nasty bugs are small, usually less than 1/4″ and they crawl rather than fly so the closer to their food source they are the easier it is for them.  So you always need to start looking for them around the bed where they are waiting for their next meal.

If you are traveling you are going to want to leave your luggage off the floor of your room until you are satisfied that there are no bugs in your room.  Leave it on the luggage rack, in a clean tub, blocking open the door, or in your car until that you have satisfied yourself that there are no bugs in your room.

Then I always make sure that after I’m done checking the room that I store the suitcase on the luggage rack so it’s not on the floor.

Inspect The Bed

how to get rid of bed bugsI personally always have a pair of medical plastic gloves that I take with me.  While you are looking you may see bed bugs or other grungy stuff and I prefer to keep my hands clean, but that’s just me.

I also keep a small flashlight handy with me when I travel.  When I’m at home I keep one next to my bed in case of power problems but in this case it helps to check the bed and sheets closely.  You also will need the extra light to check around the bed for these small bugs.

You should start by pulling out the sheets on the corners of the bed so you can see the mattress and box springs.

Yeah I know, you may have to make the bed again but we’re looking for bed bugs here and looking for them on and around the mattress where they like to hide is the place where we are going to start.

Using your light take time to carefully check around the mattress, especially around the seams and along the box springs for signs of the bugs.  These signs will include finding the actual bugs, discarded shells that they leave behind as they molt, blood smears from crushed bugs, and fecal droppings.

All of these signs will be small since the bed bug is so small and that’s why you need a light to examine these areas.

By the way, when you are traveling, and if you find any bugs on the sheets or mattress as you strip the sheets away I would run, not walk, out of the room!

Examine the mattress closely.  You might see the actual bugs when you pull the sheets back  if you look fast enough.  Or you might see the signs of them.  Look carefully along the seams for the bugs, blood smears, discarded shells, or brown fecal droppings.  See, I wear the gloves for a reason.

You can also pull the mattress up and examine the underside if you want for the same things.  Then check the box springs as well for signs of the bugs.  If you want to be thorough you can pull up the box springs and mattress up so you can check around the bed frame and the head of the bed more carefully.

You should also take a few minutes to check any dresser drawers and other furniture that are located close to the bed.

If you find nothing you are probably safe since it’s rare to have an infestation that isn’t around the bed.  But you might also want to check around and under any seat and sofa cushions just to be extra safe.  If the couch is a fold out bed make sure to pull it out and check that mattress and frame carefully.

If you do find bugs, blood smear, discarded shells, or fecal matter you should leave and ask for another room if you are in a hotel or motel.  If they don’t offer you another room I’d find another hotel.

New Infestations

Controlling Bed BugsNow, the instructions above describe the way that you can look for a old infestation but you may be wondering – what if the room is just newly infested – what if the last resident of the room left just a couple of bugs.  That is a really good question.

It’s also a very real possibility.  To counter this possibility I never put clothes in the dresser drawers where bugs from a previous tenant might have been dropped.  I’ll also hang any clean clothes that I take out of my bags because bed bugs are unlikely to bother hung up clothes.

Then you should make sure that you keep your bag off the floor and on a luggage rack or on top of the dressers or on a chair to avoid any bugs that might be crawling around from another room or resident.  Always check the areas around where you put your luggage first to make sure that it is clean of bugs.

I always take a clean trash bag to put dirty laundry in and set it on the dresser or on top of the suitcase on the luggage rack to keep bugs from getting in there and coming home with me.

If you are sleeping and get bit during the night you should repeat the search around the mattress to see if there are new signs of bugs.  If you do get bit I’d ask for another room right away.

Your best strategy when you are traveling is to make sure that you don’t bring any of these bed bugs home with you where they can start an infestation that you have to deal with in your home.

What To Do When You Get Home

Just like when I have tips to avoid bed bugs when I travel I also have a set of methods that I use to avoid these nasty bugs when I get home – especially if I think that I may have been near any infestation.

First off, the clothes that you take with you on your trip should go directly from the suitcase into your clothes washer.  You should wash your clothes in hot water and dry on high heat to kill any possible hitchhiking bugs.

Also, store your bags away from your bedroom – never store them under your bed or in a closet close to your bed.

Here is also an inexpensive trick that you can use to make sure that your bags are free of any bugs.  At the airport, when you put your bags into your car, put them in a large black trash bag, seal the bag and leave it in the back seat where it will be in the sun.

Then you leave the bags sitting in the sun in your car for a couple of days before you bring them into your home.

This heat from the sun will kill any potential bugs that you may have brought home with you.  It also makes sure that any bugs that might be in your suitcase are also killed.  There are also special heaters that you can purchase if you travel a lot that you put your bags directly into as soon as you get home to kill any unwanted hitchhikers.

Conclusion To How To Check For Bed Bugs When Traveling

We all like to travel but the last thing that we want to do is to bring bed bugs home with you and start an infestation.

When you travel you want to avoid bed bugs but if you bring them home with you then it becomes a whole other problem because then you need to kill them too.

So follow the steps above and check your room carefully to make sure that you avoid bedbugs while traveling.  Then take the steps I’ve outlined above to make sure you haven’t accidentally brought any home with you as a hitchhiker in your bags.

The bottom line is that if you’re at home and find an infestation you are going to have to treat it.  Taking a trip for vacation or business can be stressful enough without having to worry about bringing potential bed bugs home with you.

If you think that you may have brought the bugs home with you then you need to start treating as soon as possible.  The longer that you wait the larger an infestation becomes.

These steps will also work if you have a visitor that you think might have brought some bed bugs with them.  Make sure that you check your guest room mattress or sofa for signs of an early infestation and treat right away.

Even if you didn’t get bedbugs while you were traveling there have been some reported cases of the bugs showing up in taxi cabs so taking the steps outlined above to get rid of any possible bugs that you may have picked up can save you a lot of trouble and the expense of treating your home.

For the exact steps that you need to take to treat your home I’d suggest getting my new book here.


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