It seems like the holiday season comes sooner every year. Shortly after Halloween, stores will begin the holiday shopping push while airports and train stations will start to become flooded with families reuniting to celebrate their respective festivities. It’s no coincidence that November and December are historically among the busiest travel months of the year for most US destinations.
Unfortunately, bed bugs like to travel just as much as we do. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving travel, these nasty blood-suckers have an easy time hitchhiking to their next feeding ground.
Travel is often cited as the most common way to get a bed bug infestation as hotels and airports are easy places to pick them up and take them home. Fortunately there are a few simple bed bug travel tips to avoid bringing home any unwanted souvenirs:
Before Your Trip
Often, the best defenses are implemented before you leave for the airport. This begins with your luggage: your suitcases and carry-ons are very vulnerable potential hiding places for bed bugs, so you need to implement some preventive measures to keep them out.
To get started, we’ll want to apply a residual bed bug spray that’s approved for use on luggage. JT Eaton makes a spray that will do the job nicely; it can kill and repel bed bugs for up to 6 weeks. Making sure that your luggage is empty and closed, lightly spray on the outside especially along the zippers and lining.
Next, you’ll need to make sure that bed bugs can’t hide in your clothes. Packing your clothes and personal items into sealed luggage liners will help keep them bed bug free. There are sizes available for carry-ons (up to 22″ long) and large suitcases (up to 30″), so pick up one for each piece of luggage you’re taking with you.
While You’re Away
Your fight against bed bugs doesn’t end when you reach your destination. This is where the real showdown is – as hotels get busier, the likelihood of bed bugs hiding in your room increase. From the moment you arrive, you need to take steps to keep your luggage and belongings bed bug free.
Before unpacking, perform a quick visual inspection of your hotel room for any signs of bed bugs. Check the seams and folds of your mattresses for small blood spots or droppings (which will look like thin black streaks). Check behind the headboard and around lamps or wall hangings as well. If you find anything, take a picture or pick up a sample with a piece of tape, and report to the hotel management right away. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find bed bugs during a room inspection, as bed bugs are experts at hiding. Even trained professionals may have trouble finding them.
During your hotel stay, the best place for your luggage would be in the bathtub, or on the bathroom’s tile floor. Bed bugs are least likely to be in the bathroom, as there isn’t much of a food source and there are fewer places for them to hide. Whatever you do, don’t ever leave your suitcase on the bed or on any upholstered furniture. If you have a car, another place to leave your suitcase is in your trunk. Simply bring in only your essential items sealed in bags to reduce the chances of possible exposure.
To help find bed bugs that may have eluded your inspection, consider placing some bed bug traps between your mattress and box spring. A pheromone lure, like the one in Bird-X’s Bed Bug Alert, will draw bed bugs to the trap allowing you to monitor to see if bed bugs during your stay. Check the traps regularly; if you find bed bugs in them, bring the trap to the hotel management and request a room change.
After a long day of fighting traffic and airport security, you’ll probably want nothing better than to leave your luggage in the living room and crash on your own bed for the first time since you left. I urge you to resist this temptation, and to find the strength to take some final precautions against a bed bug infestation.
As soon as you come home, immediately begin washing and drying your laundry on high heat settings. Bed bugs of all life stages are vulnerable to heat, so this will kill any hitchhikers hiding in your clothes. Anything that won’t stand a laundry cycle, like shoes, books, the suitcase and purses, should be treated in a portable bed bug heater, like a ZappBug Oven. With the dryer running and the oven cooking, you can finally take some time to relax and unwind.
These are just some ways that you can travel safely during this holiday season. If you need further assistance in knowing what to do, or how to prepare for guests staying at your home, call us toll-free at 866-238-9868.