I do want to make one point perfectly clear. Major hotel chains that have impeccable records of cleanliness can still have bed bug infestations despite their best efforts to prevent them. It’s not to say that the hotel room is unclean, it’s that bed bugs are difficult to eradicate when there is a new guest from who knows where is staying in room every night.
Concerned travelers can call the hotel they plan to stay directly and ask when was the most recent guest complaint of bed bugs at their hotel & what the hotel does to prevent bed bugs. They may or may not give you an honest or direct answer, but it’s a start.
Make it a point to always pack a small flashlight when you travel, this will come in handy later.
When you arrive at your hotel as your checking in, again you can ask when was the most recent complaint of bed bugs at their hotel. If nothing more, this will make them aware that your concerned.
Checking your room for bed bugs
Once at your room, leave your belongings and luggage near the door. DO NOT unpack any of your belongings or luggage until you have performed a “strip search” of your room.
Step 1. Strip the bedding, including the pillow cases off all beds in the room down to the bare mattress. Set the bedding away from the bed, near the window or other strong light source if possible. Next pull the mattress away from the headboard and to one side of the box spring or the other to expose this area as well. Take your flashlight and look closely at every square inch of the mattress, especially along the edge seam where they tend to hide.
In addition to looking for live bed bugs, look also for fecal matter, shed skin and dead bugs (see image above). Any of these indicate there is or recently was an infestation in your hotel room.
Look also at the exposed area of the box spring, again especially along the edge seam.
Don’t see anything? Good! but not quite done yet.
Step 2. Get down on your hands a knees and look under the bed with your flashlight and along the edge of the night stand or any other furniture in the room, especially if it’s fabric covered.
Step 3. Now check the bedding you removed earlier. Hold it up near a strong light source, shake it and look for anything that falls to the floor. If you see anything, examine it with your flashlight.
Still don’t see anything after these 3 steps? Chances are good that your room is bed bug free.
If your comfortable that your room is not contaminated, you now have the chore of making your bed, but it’s guaranteed you will have a better nights sleep!
Even though your comfortable that your room is bed bug free, it’s still wise to be cautious.
- Try not to set any of your belongings or luggage directly on the floor, especially clothing. Luggage can be placed on a fold out stand many hotels provide, a chair or table. Anywhere except directly on the floor.
- Keep your luggage completely closed unless your removing items or clothing.
- Don’t leave clothing or other belongings on the bed or other furniture that is fabric covered any longer than necessary.
What if I notice bed bugs after I’ve slept in the bed?
If you notice bed bugs or evidence of them after you have unpacked your belongings or even slept in your bed, don’t panic, just follow these tips.
- Take photos of what you see or find.
- Any articles of clothing that you think may be contaminated, NO NOT place them back in your luggage. Isolate them in a plastic bag and seal it tight. Do not place anything back in your luggage you feel has the slightest chance of being contaminated.
- Notify the management of the hotel by going directly to the front desk and ask to speak to the manager. At this point, there is no need to take all your belongings with you. There is a possibility that at least some of your belongings are contaminated and there is no need to spread it further.
- Someone from the hotel staff should escort you back to your room for further investigation.
- If you feel your luggage may be contaminated, it too should be sealed in a plastic bag. At this point, the hotel should be more than willing to help you contain all your belongings.
- DO NOT unpack anything that has been previously sealed at your home until it has been fully treated or sterilized to kill bed bugs or their eggs.
What to do if I’ve been bitten?
Since most bites occur while a person is sleeping, many times a bite will not even be noticed right away. It may take up to a week before a red bump or rash develops.
While bed bug bites are seldom dangerous, the area bitten can become itchy or irritating.
Excessive scratching the area can leave a scar.
You can reduce the itching with lotions available from any pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist what he or she recommends.
If the area is not getting better within a few days, becomes worse or if you develop an allergic reaction, contact your Doctor.
Bed Bugs in my hotel room, what do I do?
Even luxury 5 star hotels are no guarantee your hotel room will be free of bed bugs. If you notice any bugs, dead or alive or evidence of bed bugs in your hotel room, take a photo even from your cell phone camera is fine.
If you can stomach it, gather up what you find and place it in a zip lock type baggie if possible. Immediately wash your hands and anyone helping you should do the same.
Then proceed to go directly to the check-in desk with your luggage and ask to speak to the manager. Do not leave any of your belongings in the room.
Remain calm and explain to the manager that while checking your room you noticed that there are bed bugs or evidence there were bed bugs in the room they assigned you.
They may simply assign another room for you, or may ask to see the “evidence” you have. If you have a digital photo, show it to them, they may send someone up to the room to see for themselves.
How the hotel staff handles these situations can vary considerably from very concerned and will do everything they can to make sure your comfortable staying with them, to trying to convince you that your crazy and seeing things.
If the manager of the hotel does not meet the expectations you feel they should, then inform them that you would like to speak to the head of customer service at their company headquarters.