How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Traveling?

How to avoid bed bugs when travelling in hotels

The purpose of this article is to showcase how to avoid bed bugs when traveling and which items could help you stay bed bug free wherever you go.

Hotels and motels are known for being bed bug playgrounds, since so many travelers come and go daily. Hence you should anticipate the risk and follow these precautionary measures whenever you travel.

What can you do to avoid Bed bugs Before the Trip

Investigate your hotel online prior to booking

Before the trip, you can have a look at bed bug registries online, like Bed Bug Reports, a compilation of bed bugs’ hotel presence in North America. Then you can check online reviews and user’s comments to spot any mention of a bed bugs presence in the hotel. If you see many reports of their presence in the hotel, you should be very diligent with the following precautionary measures if you intend to stay in this hotel.

You can also check which city has a lot of bed bugs. If you are interested in that topic, you can check our article on Cities with the most bed bugs.


Protect and pack your Suitcase

You should not bring any pillow or personal bedding. Bed bugs could hide there while you are in the hotel to later settle into your home.
If possible, you should take a hard-shell suitcase rather than a fabric suitcase whenever you are traveling. The hard shell makes it difficult for those critters to get in and hide into your suitcase. If you only have a fabric suitcase then you could cover it with a protective Luggage Liner to make it impossible for them to settle within your suitcase.
Pack sealable plastic bags in your suitcase. Ideally resealable and airtight plastic bags. They will not be able to bite their way through it so it will be helpful to separate belongings and to store all of your clothing.


Spray your luggage

Bed bugs will hitch from hotels to home by using luggage as means of transport. So, to reduce this risk you should spray the outside of your luggage with an Anti-Bed Bug Spray. You should preferably use a residual spray with a wide time range effect.


How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Traveling?

Reducing Bed bugs exposure During the Trip comes with thorough inspection of the room. Let’s have a closer look in this paragraph.

Learn how bed bugs look like

Before you thoroughly inspect the hotel room, you should know what they look like.

They are red brownish and have an oval form. Those blood-sucking insects usually are the size of an apple seed but could be smaller if they are young bugs (also called nymph). They hide usually in seams of the bedding or in the box spring, headboards or mattress seams. You can also find them in cracks and crevices in furniture close to bed. So, what you should remember is that usually bed bugs live close to the bedding area in tiny and hidden spots. They usually leave fecal stains that look like small black dots, shed skins, bloodstains and a musty smell where they are nesting. Their eggs are the size of a pinhead and look like small grains of rice.


Inspect the Mattress

First, pull back the sheets and the mattress pad and inspect the corners of the mattress, box spring and behind the headboard. You should also have a look at the pillows, bed covers as well as the bed frame. You can inspect the mattress for bed bugs with a flashlight with a magnifying lens for better efficiency.


Inspect the Room

Then you should enlarge your bed bug searching area, with the surroundings of the bed.

Pay special attention to furniture. Check nightstands, behind picture frames, baseboards or sofas close to the bed. Despite their name, bed bugs live sometimes outside of the bedding area. But usually not too far so they can feed easily at night.

If you find a presence of dead bugs, whether it is for example a bed bug, blood stain, shell skins. You should notify the hotel staff immediately and ask to change rooms to another floor. Adjacent rooms have a higher risk of having those critters than rooms situated on another floor.


Unpack and set the room properly 

How to avoid bed bugs when traveling by placing correctly your Suitcase in your hotel room

When you enter your hotel room, you should leave your luggage in the bathroom. They are indeed very rarely found in bathrooms due to the presence of tile floors and the fact that it is far from their food source which is where you sleep.

In any case, it is best not to set the suitcases directly on the bed. Because the bed is the area where they like most to nest. If you prefer not to put your suitcase in the bathroom, it is best to keep it off the floor and from any furniture close to the bed, so no bug can take up residence into it. You can for instance place your suitcase in the luggage racks or the top of the dresser for instance.

You should also cover your suitcase with a plastic bag or wrap to protect it from potential bed bugs who would want to take up residence there.


Hang and gather your clothes

If you put your close on the floor or in a drawer, then the bed bugs could have access to them. By hanging your clothes, you will greatly minimize that risk. Remember that they like to stay in soft places such as fabric, tissue or upholstered surfaces. Also do not scatter your things and clothes in the room to minimize potential hidden spots for bed bugs.

You should also store your dirty clothes in a sealed plastic bag as they are attracted by the smell left from human clothes. Also preferably do not place your clothing directly on the bed.


Spray the mattress and furniture of the hotel’s room

Use an Anti-Bed Bug Spray to spray the mattress edge and seam, the headboard edge and the corner, the bed frame, and the bed feet. For good measure, also spray around the nightstand, the bed, and the couches if you intend to use them.


Monitor Bed Bugs and Isolate your Bed:

Monitor your bed with Traps

It is important that you are aware of the infestation if there is any, in the room you are residing. That is why you should use Bed bug traps in order to detect them. They use pheromones to attract the bugs to then capture them on a sticky surface.

Place those traps between the box spring and the mattress. Place them as well on the headboard and on the bed leg’s.


Isolate your bed with interceptors Cups and a mattress encasement

If you detect bed bugs’ presence or that you want to take an extra measure of prevention, you can isolate the bed with 2 items. Interceptors Cups and a mattress encasement. The Cups interceptors are placed beneath each bed leg and will stop outside bugs from coming inside the bed. The mattress encasement will take care of the bug residing within the mattress. A mattress encasement will protect you from those bugs by creating an impermeable barrier between your mattress and you. The combination of those two items will protect you from those critters when you are sleeping, whether you are at home or in a hotel room.


Make sure you did not bring Bed bugs home After Your Trip

Inspect your luggage

After your trip, it is best to inspect your suitcase before entering your home. You should first check the inside of your suitcase to look for any bed bugs signs. (You can have a quick check at the outside of your luggage but it is most likely that if there are bugs, they are residing inside it).

If your luggage has a darker color or if you want to better see in hiding places or outlets and furniture screws, you can use a flashlight to better spot them.


Wash and dry your clothes on high temperature

After this check-up, you should first wash all of your clothes, whether you wore them or not during your trip. Wash and dry your clothes on a high temperature setting. Why? Heat is deadly to them. Bed bugs and their eggs will die when exposed to a sustained 118 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. Best is to use a clothes dryer instead of hanging dry your clothes as high heat from the dryer will kill them. All of your clothes should be packed in a sealed plastic bag before being transferred in the washing machine. This is to be done to avoid bugs dropping on the floor when transferring your clothes. You can also add to your washing machine cycle an anti-bed bug laundry additive for best results.


Vacuum and Steam your suitcase

Vacuum all pieces of luggage thoroughly. You should trash directly afterwards the vacuum bag outside and wash thoroughly the canister in hot water with detergent and soap. This has to be done to avoid bed bugs surviving in the vacuum bag and re infesting your home.

You should then steam your luggage with a steamer cleaner. The high heat delivered from the steamer will kill those that could be hiding in your suitcase.

You can also dispose of your suitcase in a sealed plastic bag, and store it in the garage or basement. You should place the bag containing your suitcase far from your bedroom preferably.


Use a Portable Bed Bug Heater

There are probably some of your items that can endure heat but that you cannot wash. For those the best is to use a portable heater. By disposing of your item in the heater or hot box they will reach a temperature above lethal temperature for them and ensure that all those critters are dead from your belongings. You can also use a Portable Bed Bug Heater to treat your luggage.

If you want to know the best accessories to travel without risking getting bed bugs. You can check our article on Travel Items to avoid Bed bugs.

In this article we saw How to avoid Bed Bugs when traveling. However, all of these preventive measures can also be applied in hotel rooms but also during transit such as trains, airplanes or cars. Those means of transport could sometimes be a residence for bed bugs due to the numbers of humans going in and out of them.