Question: What’s worse than being bitten by a bed bug in a hotel?
Answer: Bringing a bed bug home from a hotel.
THE BAD NEWS:
ALL hotels have bed bugs. Statistically, sooner or later, all hotels have bed bugs. 1-star, 5-star, 7-star: these little bastards don’t discriminate.
Sure, you can minimize your chances of being bitten by a bed bug — stay at decent hotels, check the mattress and boxspring — but it’s a numbers game, insect roulette. If you travel frequently, you WILL be bitten. Actually, if you travel regularly you probably *have* been bitten and just didn’t realize it: you either had no reaction to the bite (many people don’t), the marks appeared too late for you to make the connection (they can appear up to 14 days after being bitten), or you never noticed the marks.
My hard advice: get over being bitten. Bugs are a fact of life: you’ll survive. Expect that if you travel you will be bitten by a bed bug. Direct your focus towards not bringing one into your house.
THE GOOD NEWS:
You CAN take steps to prevent bringing a bed bug home.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. – Benjamin Franklin
BED BUG TRAVEL STRATEGIES
Secure your luggage and belongings in 30 gallon trash bags. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt, but it’s worth it, especially if you’re not changing hotels frequently.
Zip your luggage and keep your belongings in it (an alternative to trash bags).
Store your luggage and belongings away from the bed and wooden storage units (closet shelves, luggage racks, dresser drawers). Bed bugs like wood. Put your bags in the bathtub or shower. If your room has a refrigerator, throw your small stuff in there.
Isolate your sleepwear. If bed bugs are going to hitchhike, your sleepwear is the most practical vehicle for them. Pack pajamas in an airtight bag (if you didn’t pack one, use the hotel’s plastic laundry bag).
Dry exposed clothing in the dryer and set it on high heat for at least 20 minutes when you are home. Or, if you live in a hot climate, leave your luggage in the trunk for awhile. Heat kills bed bugs.
Be careful of what you carry home. I’ve heard of bed bugs being introduced to a home through rugs bought abroad.
Kill the bastards when you get home. Sometimes the above tips aren’t practical (a cruise, multiple hotels, etc.). Buy a Packtite and “bake” your luggage and contents when you arrive home.
Buy bed bug monitors. They are the quickest, most effective means of knowing if you’ve brought home bed bugs. Which is important, as you may not respond to bites. And it’s much, much, much easier to address the problem sooner than later.
BED BUG STRATEGIES IN CONCLUSION…
Don’t let a little bug ruin travel for you. You can’t prevent bed bugs from biting you, but you can significantly minimize your chances of bringing them home with you.