Traveller’s Guide For Bed Bugs
Unsurprisingly, one of the most common ways a bed bug infestation may occur is due to travel. Whether it is domestic travelling within your city or international travelling to a different country, this guide aims to address both types of travellers and provide a few guidelines to help avoid bringing back a hitchhiking bed bug.
The first point addresses domestic travel, and the four remaining points address international travel.
1) Cautions For Buses & Subways
Although public transit exposes us to many messes (juice spills, gum on seats…) and annoying encounters (super loud music…), it is very hard to avoid using it all together. What’s worse is that public transit vehicles are definitely a way you can get bed bugs. In fact, there have been a few recent pictures of a bed bug on a TTC train seat, which you have probably seen on Toronto lifestyle blogs.
Because of this, being cautious on public transit vehicles is important – always try to do the following:
Firstly, don’t occupy more than one seat. This means you should not put your bag on the seat beside you (keep it in your lap), and do not change seats without good reason. The less seats you touch/occupy, the lower the chance for any stray bugs to crawl on to you or your belongings.
Secondly, if you will be using public transit often and carrying bags (much like a student), try your best to start using a black bag. It is much easier to spot the hitch-hiking bugs on a black bag.
Thirdly, once you come back, home don’t immediately put the clothes and bags in your room, on your bed, etc. Follow the general advice of putting your clothing through a cycle of washing and drying. As for any bags, then do a quick inspection by unfolding all the fabric folds and making sure you look all the around the zipper. If you have used a black bag then finding orange adult bugs should be relatively easy. BUT, don’t just stop there! Also look for pale yellow nymphs or white clusters of bed bug eggs to be extra safe.
2) Hotel Reviews & Research
Finding hotel reviews is important – and obvious. Many people can do it.
However, what people don’t properly do is filtering reviews to find the ones that explicitly mention “bed bugs”. Follow some of the tips below to properly research hotels and filter reviews.
A hotel may have bad ratings, because the paint was old, or food was bad … but what we care about is to go through all those bad reviews & ratings and simply find the ones that say “bed bugs”. This is quite simple if you have all the reviews on a single page. With all the reviews on a single page, modern web browsers support a “FIND” shortcut which allows you to easily find/highlight specific word on the page. To try this, look for the settings menu of your browser and activate the find feature, then type “bed bugs”, and see how it works on this page. By using this feature on a page of hotel reviews, you will easily find the reviews that have the words “bed bugs”, saving you time and allowing you to quickly find out whether the hotel has had a bed bug problem in the past or not.
Apart from reviews, you can check news articles. Usually when a popular hotel has a bed bug problem, the media picks up on the story. To find out if there are any news articles or posts about a specific hotel, you can use search engine features that allow you to only search for pages on the internet that have the words “bed bugs” and [hotel name] on the same page. If you search using quotation marks, like this: “hotel name here” “bed bugs” — you will only get search results for pages that have both the hotel name and the words “bed bugs” on the web page. This allows you to easily filter through and force the search engine to only find for you the pages you are looking for, namely, reports and bed bug complaints at a specific hotel.
You can use multiple trustworthy sources to make sure the hotel you choose has had no extreme cases of bed bugs.
3) Luggage Protection
Upon arrival to your place-of-stay, be cautious with your luggage. The first thing you want to do is to inspect the room and bed to find obvious red flags.
Do not immediately bring your suitcases in to the room. It is a good idea to inspect the room and only accept staying there as long as it is clean and free of bed bugs/evidence of bed bugs.
Perform a simple bed bug inspection. Some people might prefer to place their luggage in the bathtub while they make sure the room seems clean and un-infested. This will decrease the likelihood of having bed bugs crawl on to your bags and hide in the zipper folds and other parts. It also decreases the likelihood of you bringing the bugs from an infested room to an un-infested room in the case of the hotel compensating you with a different room.
4) If You Are Not Staying At A Hotel
If you plan to stay at a shared property or as a guest in someone else’s home, then, you can still place your luggage in a safe place (like the garage), and do a quick inspection, privately, while you are getting settled. Check the bedsheets, and their elastic edges, and also the headboard. Having a trustworthy and tidy host will help reduce the chances of being in an infested house.
You can further prevent any chance of returning home with bed bugs by following the last advice below.
5) Returning Home Bed Bug Free
Before leaving the hotel (or other place of stay), pack the clothes in to plastic bags before putting them in your suitcase.
Upon returning home, it is a good idea to keep the luggage in the garage and inspect your belongings before putting them in the house.
Inspect your clothes and put all of them through a cycle of washing and drying.
Now that you have emptied the suitcase and washed the clothes after inspecting them, it is best if you store the suitcase in the garage instead of bringing it in to your home. Tighten a heavy-duty plastic bag around it and store it in the garage until your next travel.
Repeat all of these steps (and other tips you may already know) to have both a bed bug free trip and return.
If you are still suspecting bed bugs after a trip, be sure to have a look at our bed bug control Toronto page, and consider hiring a professional for fast results.