Bed bugs love to travel (and they do for free), and they will take any opportunity to force you and your family into tedious bed bug treatment routines as a result of their worldliness. They do not a need a passport, and they are not required to declare anything when they go through customs. At one time, bed bugs merely traveled the seedy motel circuit, but today they also travel in style, staying in five star hotels and aboard a luxury cruise ships. They do not discriminate when it comes to traveling companions, as they will travel with anyone, at anytime they can hitch a ride. Bed bugs have no problem traveling in luggage or attached to a jacket. Bed bugs will travel in packs but have no problems leaving the group and taking off on a solo tour to points unknown.
Before making a reservation at a hotel or other room accommodations look up customer reviews on independent travel web pages such as trip advisor. If they have had a problem with bed bugs at the present time or in the past, you will read about it in the review section. If your reservations were made months in advance, check out the reviews just prior to leaving. Upon checking in to your room, inspect the room carefully. Check the mattress, bed frame, bedding and pillows carefully for bed bugs or signs of bed bugs. If you see an indication of bed bugs, notify the manager immediately. Request a different room, if one is available or look for other accommodations. When a room is treated for bed bugs, it should not be occupied for 48 hours.
Not finding bed bugs upon inspection does not mean they are not there. Nor is it necessary to simply assume bed bugs will be a problem, but there are a few precautionary steps the traveler can take just in case. Some people call this “paranoia travel” but others call it “being prepared.” While occupying the room, put the luggage on the luggage rack and keep it closed when not in use. Only put clothes in the dresser after careful inspection for bed bugs. Do not toss clothes on the floor or the chair or sofa. Hang clothes and jackets on the clothes rack. Put your shoes on the top of the clothes rack as well as pocketbook and small travel bags. Consider bringing zip lock plastic bags with you and keep your clothes in the bags while in the room.
After returning home, clean out your luggage carefully and spray it with an insecticide. Wrap the luggage in plastic and set it in the sun for a few hours, or perhaps a few days. The heat from the sun will help to eradicate any bed bugs that did catch a ride. Do your laundry as soon as possible when you return home, washing in the hottest water your clothes can withstand. Dry in a dryer for a minimum of 30 minutes at the highest temperature your clothes will take. Items that cannot be washed but can go in the dryer should get the same dryer treatment as the rest of your clothes. If you bring clothes to the dry cleaner, inform the dry cleaner bed bugs may have been encountered so they will take precautions.
Tips for Travelers:
The thought of bed bugs is enough to make some folks decide to stay home! That is definitely not a realistic or necessary option. This section provides simple tips you can share with colleagues and students for when they decide to travel.
These tips are intended to help educate both the student community and administrators about preventing bed bug incidences when traveling.
Some examples of why members of the campus community travel:
- Spring break
- Study abroad
- Service trips
Prior to traveling:
- Become familiar with what bed bugs look like and the signs of bed bug presence.
- Inform those you are traveling with that you will be checking the room for signs of bed bugs prior to settling in and ask them to be diligent as well.
In a hotel:
- Examine the bed sheets and upper and lower seams of the mattress and box spring, especially along the head of the bed.
- Check along seams of the headboard and behind the headboard if possible.
- If there is any suspicion of bed bugs, notify the hotel immediately and request a different room, preferably in a different part of the hotel.
During and after travel:
- Travelers who experience bites should unpack directly into disposable plastic bags and launder items upon arriving home.
- Once unpacked, the suitcase can be heat-treated.
Returning home after traveling:
When you return home after traveling and you feel there is even the slightest chance that your luggage or other belongings have been exposed to bed bugs, DO NOT unpack luggage or other packed belongings until you have examined them for infestation.
If possible, leave your luggage and other belongings in a safe place outside your home, such as a garage, carport, balcony, etc.. If you must bring them into your home, do not unpack anything until you have had an opportunity to check for infestation. One of the safest places to place your luggage is in your bathtub.
Using a flashlight, open your luggage and carefully remove the articles and examine each, especially along the seams of clothing and look for bed bugs, eggs, shed skin, or anything that does not look right. After examining all articles in the luggage, check the luggage and liner as well. If you notice any sign of bed bugs, you are going to need to eradicate any bugs or eggs. Do not move any infested articles from one area of your home to another unless they are first placed in a plastic garbage bag and sealed.
Dealing with an isolated infestation.
Place all articles of clothing in your clothes dryer and run for at least 15 minutes on the highest setting. This temperature is hot enough to kill the bugs or eggs. Next, wash or dry clean as usual. After removing all items from your luggage, if the liner is removable, place it in the clothes dryer too. Vacuum every pocket, nook and cranny of your luggage. Articles that could not be placed in the clothes dryer, can be wiped down with rubbing alcohol. (first ensure this will not damage the item)
If the infestation is extensive, you may wish to consult with a professional exterminator. Remember to keep all infested articles isolated and in sealed plastic bags to greatly reduce the chance of infestation to your home, car, etc.
Reminders for Travelers:
preventing bed bugs is to be always mindful during travel from and return to home. This is greatly emphasized by HeatCast as the most essential thing one can do after travelling. Notably, summer period is the most transient time of the year, hence, the best time for the spread of bed bugs.
•Check your suitcases for potential bed bugs before bringing them into the house. Before storing, clean-up all luggage and suitcases with a vacuum.
• If available, use also a hand-held garment steamer or heater to steam your luggage. This kills any potential or existing bed bugs that travel with you back home.
•As soon as you arrive home, wash clean, dry and press all of your clothes including those not yet worn in hot temperatures to make sure that any unwanted bed bugs are not carried into your drawers or closet.
•Store clothes that must be dry-cleaned in a plastic bag. And as soon as possible, take them to the dry cleaner.