Every year, thousands of Americans are exposed to bed bugs during hotel stays or while on airplanes, trains, buses, or cruise ships. Many of them bring the bedbugs home after their trip, opening the door to infestation. As we enter the travel season (and, to no coincidence, bed bug season), we need to do what we can to prevent bringing home more than just photos and souvenirs.
Protect Your Luggage
The first place to start is with your luggage. This is the main method of transit that bed bugs will use to get to your home from wherever you stay (and however you travel). A typical suitcase or carry-on bag is packed (pun intended) with potential hiding places for these little buggers – bedbugs can hide along seams, folds in the lining, and can even fit through zippers. Since a suitcase wrapped in three trash bags wouldn’t be very useful during your trip, you need simple bed bug travel protection methods for your luggage.
Start with a residual spray that’s safe for luggage, like JT Eaton Bedbug Control. This water-based spray acts as both a repellant and a bed bug killer at once, and works for up to 6 weeks. Lightly spray on the outside of your empty luggage, especially along any zippers.
Next, pack your clothes and items in a sealed luggage liner before putting them in your suitcase or carry-on bag. If bed bugs manage to get past your residual spray, they’ll want to hide in the folds of soft fabrics. These liners are lab-tested for proven effectiveness, and offer the best protection for your clothing and personal effects.
With your luggage suitably protected and packed, you’re ready to safely enjoy your vacation!
Inspect Your Room
Before unpacking in your hotel room, it would be wise to do a quick visual inspection for any signs of bed bug activity. Inspecting for bed bugs isn’t easy – they’re only a few millimeters long, and they generally aren’t active until after you’re asleep. Regardless, there are a few tell-tale indicators to check for before settling in.
Use a flashlight and a magnifying lens, included in our bed bug inspection kit, to check the seams and folds of your mattresses for signs of bed bugs, like small blood spots or droppings. While you’re at it, look behind the headboard and around lamps or picture frames. If you find any dead bugs or shed skins, pick them up with tape and store them in a zip-lock bag to show to the hotel management.
If you find signs of bed bugs in your room, the hotel should make every effort possible to move you to another room.
Monitor for Bed Bug Activity
Passing a visual inspection is no guarantee that a room is free of bedbug activity, and protecting your luggage won’t stop them from feeding on you while you sleep. To avoid waking up to itchy bed bug bites, you should take steps to keep the critters out of your bed.
A portable and effective bed bug trap is the Bed Bug Alert monitor by Bird-X. This uses a small pheromone attractant to lure bed bugs in, and traps them with a sticky glue. Place the monitors between the box spring and the mattress, near the head and the foot of the bed. Line up the edge of the monitor with the edge of the mattress, and you’ll have an easy way to trap bed bugs.
Heat Treatment After Your Trip
Once you get home, you’ll want to take one last preventative measure to ensure that you and your loved ones don’t become hosts to an uninvited infestation. Bed bugs of all life stages are vulnerable to heat; exposing them to a sustained 118 degrees or more will kill them in just 20 minutes.
Start by washing and drying your laundry on high heat settings, if possible. This will kill any bed bugs and eggs that were hitch-hiking in your clothes while you were travelling. Anything that can’t go in the wash, like shoes, books, handbags, and dry-clean clothing, should be treated with a portable bed bug heater. PackTite’s offerings safely heat its contents above 120 degrees, ensuring a thorough killing of any bed bugs hiding out in your belongings.
Relax! Enjoy your trip, and enjoy your home when you return. As long as you take the necessary precautions, you should be able to sleep tight wherever you are.