Know Before You Go

How to Prevent Bringing Bed Bugs Home From Travels

Before we know it, summer will be here and millions of people around the country will begin packing their bags to have some fun in the sun. Before embarking on vacations, many of these travelers will create a travel checklist to help them prepare for hitting the road. While packing sunscreen, turning off lights, cleaning out the fridge and locking doors are all likely to make the list, it’s also important for travelers to bring along another type of list to use before and after unpacking from their trips — the bed bug prevention checklist.

Even the most seasoned travelers are at a higher risk of encountering bed bugs when traveling because these blood-sucking pests are excellent hitchhikers and are easily transported from one place to another in human belongings like suitcases. As a result, bed bugs continue to remain a problem in lodging facilities. In fact, 68 percent of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in hotels and motels, according to the 2018 Bugs Without Borders Survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky.

All travelers will benefit from a little bed bug know-how to help ensure they don’t bring them home as an unwanted souvenir. If you and your family are planning on getting away this summer, here is your bed bug prevention checklist:

When You Arrive At The Hotel

  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard, under lights, and inside dressers, drawers, sofas and chairs.
  • Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams and box springs, particularly at the corners, for pepper-like stains, spots or shed bed bug skins. 
  • Place suitcase in a plastic trash bag during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure. 
  • Do not place luggage on upholstered surfaces. The safest place is in the bathroom in the middle of a tile floor or on a luggage rack after it has been thoroughly inspected. Do not use a luggage rack if it has hollow legs, where bed bugs may hide unseen.

If You Suspect Bed Bugs Are In Your Hotel Room

  • Notify management and request to change rooms immediately.
  • Do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin.

When You Arrive Home

  • Inspect your suitcases outdoors before bringing them into the house.
  • Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing it. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which can kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have traveled home with you.
  • Wash and dry all of your clothes - even those that have not been worn – on hot cycles.
  • Keep clothes that go to the dry cleaner in a sealed plastic bag until they can be transported. 

If you get settled back in at home following a trip and suspect that you may have brought some hitchhiking bed bugs back with you, contact a licensed pest professional in a timely manner. Bed bugs are not a DIY pest and should be left to a professional.

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