How to avoid hotel bed bugs is no laughing matter and I must admit that until recently, I thought bed bugs were just a myth perpetrated by moms tucking kids into bed at night. Most people don’t know that bed bugs were common in the United States before World War II and only became rare after the pesticide DDT was used in the 1940s and 1950s. But guess what? They’re b-a-c-k. In recent years, bed bugs been found in all 50 states of the U.S. and the hotel bed bugs statistics are staggering.
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), hotel bed bugs are brought into rooms by guests and they are not a hotel sanitation issue. Although I hear what the AHLA is saying, I’m still taking preventative measures when I stay at hotels. To protect yourself against this clear and present danger, here are several tips on how to avoid hotel bed bugs when you travel.
1. Check online bedbug registry & hotel reviews.
Before you book a hotel room, I suggest that you read user reviews of the particular hotel and location you want to visit. Guests who’ve visited a hotel with bed bug problems will probably report them online. Keep in mind that a report about one hotel does not mean the issue wasn’t isolated to just one room or that the hotel management hasn’t since exterminated. If the hotel is proactive, you may even see a comment added by the manager of the hotel that the problem has been addressed and they’re bed bug free. Understand that hotels don’t want you to encounter a bed bug problem anymore than you do.
You can also check out BedBugRegisry.com. It’s a free database of more than 20,000 reports from travelers who’ve encountered bed bugs in the US and Canada and includes information on where they have been found so you know how to avoid hotel bed bugs. You might want to compare those reports with the most recent reviews from TripAdvisor.com to determine if the problem has been corrected.
2. Inspect your hotel room as soon as you arrive.
In addition to my hotel room cleanliness tips featured here at Best Travel Deals Tips, one of the first things you’ll want to do when you check into your hotel room is pull back the bed linens and inspect the seams of the mattress for any signs of bugs. This includes looking at the mattress, dust ruffle and any other item with fabric.
Here's what to look for: hotel bed bugs are brown or red in color and can be seen with the naked eye but they are no bigger than a sesame seed. They usually leave little red stains on your sheets and their eggs look like white rice before they hatch. You should look for little blood stains or other specks which could be the hotel bed bugs shedding their skin or feces. The video below is very helpful at showing what to look for so you know how to avoid hotel bed bugs.
If bed bugs are detected, you should request another room. Be sure to inform the hotel management as to what the problem is and what you discovered so they can take immediate measures to exterminate. Also, depending on the extent of a hotel bed bug infestation, just moving to a different room may not be the total answer. You should repeat the thorough inspection of any new or different room you are offered.
3. Place your suitcase on an elevated surface.
You want to be extra careful about where you place your suitcases when you first enter your hotel room. I suggest that you elevate your suitcases and keep them off the floor with one the luggage stands provided by most hotels or on a dresser or a shelf in the closet. Avoid placing your suitcases on the floor, bed or chairs in the hotel. In case there is a problem, you don't want hotel bed bugs hitchhiking to your next location or back to your home.
Keep the suitcase elevated until you've had a chance to inspect the room. Just make sure that whatever you do that you don't put your suitcase on the bed or on any upholstered item, since hotel bed bugs really aren't just in the bed and can also be in the chairs, sofa, or anything with fabric.
4. Protect your luggage.
In addition to elevating your luggage, something else you should know on how to avoid hotel bed bugs is to consider wrapping your luggage in a large plastic garbage bag when traveling although luggage liners like the ones offered below on the carousel that go inside your suitcase may be a more attractive solution. This is a scary thought but your luggage could have been next to an infested suitcase in the cargo hold or overhead bin of an airplane and the bugs can make it from one bag to another during a flight.
You should also spray your suitcase with an insect repellent specifically designed to kill hotel bed bugs like StopBuggingMe.
Also, seal any freshly-laundered items inside a plastic bag like the luggage liners featured on the carousel above. These luggage liners should help prevent hotel bed bugs from getting in those items later to hide (and be carried back home with you). When you pack to leave your hotel, inspect your luggage carefully first, including every item you pack to help detect for any signs of hotel bed bugs.
It's also important to know how to avoid hotel bed bugs when you return from a trip. Make sure you check your luggage and clothing and even vacuum your suitcases at home in case these items became contaminated with hotel bed bugs. Also, you should immediately launder evey item from your travels. Laundering most cloth items with hot water and detergent followed by drying on low heat for at least 20 minutes (or standard dry cleaning) should kill all bed bugs in or on such items.
5. Pack Bed Bug Spray.
With all this talk about hotel bed bugs, the good news is that there is a new product that is a great solution to this outbreak called Stop Bugging Me. It’s a pesticide-free treatment and proven 100% effective in killing and preventing bed bugs. It is also safe for the entire family, including pets, and you can pack a travel-size so you can have it with you at all times when you travel. The 3 oz travel-size spray bottle retails for $7.99 and treats two queen-sized mattresses. The 12 oz spray bottle is great for use at home, costs $19.99 and treats seven queen-sized mattresses All you need to do is spray it on any bed bug prone or infested area like mattresses, bedding, linens, and luggage. You can purchase it online at StopBuggingMe!.
The company that manufactures StopBuggingMe! has also started working with major hotel chains to sow them how to avoid hotel bed bugs and help them conquer the problems so look for the NEW Stop Bugging Me! seal at hotels and retail stores– there’s one less thing to worry about because they’ve been bed bug treated and protected.
So hopefully you know more about hotel bed bugs than you ever thought you would need to know so a my mom used to say, “Good night and don’t let hotel the bed bugs bite.”
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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer
For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more