As the fall approaches, you and your family may seize the opportunity to take a vacation. The good weather makes traveling easy, and you look forward to relaxing for a few days.
But before you let your guard down completely, keep in mind that bedbugs like to travel just as much as you do. Bedbugs can hitch a ride on your clothing or suitcases, and when you come home again, they may quickly reproduce and infest your sheets, mattresses, and carpeting.
Though bed bugs are harmless, they can prove troublesome to remove. So follow these steps to keep bedbugs at bay while you travel.
As you pack for your trip, take extra care that your clothing and other personal items enjoy a pest-free start. Closely inspect your fabrics for rusty, reddish stains or dark spots. Seal your clothing in protective plastic bags to ensure bugs can't find their way into your luggage.
Once you've finished packing, take a few moments to spray your suitcases and carry-on bags with bug repellent. You never know when your bags could sit next to an infested suitcase in the overhead bin or cargo hold of an airplane.
When you arrive at your hotel, you may feel tired from your trip. But before you collapse on the bed and settle in for the night, place your suitcases in your hotel restroom.
Many hotel restrooms have porcelain tile or linoleum flooring, and the bathroom typically has fewer surfaces that bed bugs can hide. If your particular restroom has carpeted flooring, place your luggage on higher surface that doesn't have fabric or upholstery, such as a dresser, table, or desk.
Avoid leaving your suitcases on the bed, couches, or chairs, and keep your belongings several feet from the walls until you've had a chance to inspect your room.
Once you feel confident that your luggage is safe and out of reach, inspect your room from top to bottom. Start with the bed and pull back each of the sheets and blankets. Check the mattress seams and box springs for dark spots and stains, and if you have particularly good eyesight, look for tiny eggs, eggshells, and pale yellow skins.
Although bedbugs tend to nest in the bed, they can hide just about anywhere in your room. So thoroughly check for signs of bedbugs in the chairs and couches, in between cushions, and in the folds of your curtains or drapes. Loose wall paper and wall hangings could also house bedbugs, so you'll want to look in these areas as well.
Assuming you didn't find any signs of bedbugs in your room, feel free to sleep comfortably for the rest of the night. But when you wake up the next morning, check your skin for bites.
Bedbug bites tend to occur on exposed areas of the body, such as the hands, face, neck, and shoulders. Though the patterns vary, most bedbugs bite in a small, clustered circle or in a zigzag line on the skin.
Typically, you won't notice the moment a bedbug bites you. However, the bitten area may become inflamed, red, or itchy a few hours or days afterward. To soothe your itching skin, wash the affected area with soap and water, and then apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or gel, such as hydrocortisone.
Hopefully you find no trace of bedbugs in your room or on your skin. But if anything looks suspicious about your room or if you see bites on your skin, don't hesitate to talk to hotel management about the problem. The staff will want to keep the bedbugs in check, and they may even offer you a different room so you can feel comfortable during your stay.
However, keep in mind that bedbugs can travel between rooms via clothing, and they can travel on cleaning carts and equipment. If your room has an infestation, you can likely bet that the rooms closest to yours also have traces of bedbugs. So avoid rooms adjacent to, directly above or below, or across from your infested room.
Assuming you took all the necessary precautions before and during your trip, you should feel fairly confident that you and your luggage will be completely pest free.
But to prevent an infestation, treat your clothing and suitcases as if they were infected. Avoid placing luggage on the carpet or next to walls until you've had a chance to inspect everything thoroughly. Immediately launder your clothing to kill any bugs that may still cling to your shirts or pants. Vacuum your suitcases, and dry clean as needed.
The above tips can help you keep bedbugs away from your home, even after you go on vacation. However, bedbugs can still squirm into the smallest cracks and corners, often when you least expect them. If you notice any bedbugs in your home, call a pest control expert for treatment to keep them from traveling from room to room.