Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, few things can kill the vibe faster than realizing you’re sharing a hotel room with bed bugs. Even worse, some people don’t realize what’s happened until they get home, and introduce the insects to a new habitat. This is basically the worst-case scenario; once you’ve discovered bed bugs in your house, there’s no telling how far they’ve spread. 

Of course, you can always get a company like Doctor Sniffs to come with their bed bug dogs and search out the little invaders; you could also research what kills bed bugs instantly, and try to eliminate them yourself. However, one thing is for sure: it’s always better to avoid bringing them home with you. With that in mind, here are some tips on what to do if you encounter bed bugs while traveling.

Know how to spot bed bugs

First of all, staying in a luxury hotel won’t save you from bed bugs, any more than staying in a Motel 6 will guarantee them. It’s easy to crack jokes about a budget hotel’s standards of cleanliness, but bed bugs aren’t like roaches – they don’t necessarily prefer messy or infrequently cleaned environments. They’ll go anywhere that they can find human blood; that’s pretty much their only requirement.

Bearing this in mind, if you’re concerned about bed bugs, you may want to start off with a visual inspection of your hotel room. Not after you’ve showered, and not after dinner – as soon as you get there. It’ll only take a few minutes, and it could save you a world of grief.

Start with – you guessed it – the bed. The brown bugs themselves are fairly easy to spot since they should show up against the (typically light-colored) sheets. However, what you’re more likely to find will be feces stains, shed skins, or eggs/eggshells. Feces stains will be tiny brown or black marks, while the shed skins and eggs will be pale yellow. Bed bugs can also inhabit any cranny or crevice that seems like a safe place to hide, so you should also check the furniture, corners of the floor, etc. If you want to stash your stuff in a bug-free place while you search, the bathtub is a good spot.

Don’t be shy about switching accommodations

Let’s say you suspect the presence of bed bugs in your room – now what? You need to get out of there ASAP. One option is to get a staff member to confirm what you’ve found and assign you another room. 

However, you risk running into the same issue; after all, bed bugs are extremely good at moving from one place to the next. If you want to play it safe and you can afford it, you may want to consider going to an entirely different hotel. 

Most importantly, you shouldn’t feel bad about making a bit of a fuss. No matter how much you paid for the room, you deserve for it to be free of infestations. Bed bugs are a major nuisance, and you shouldn’t have to risk accidentally bringing them home with you because a hotel staff member doesn’t feel like confirming a potential infestation.

Make life easier by being prepared for bed bugs

Some people have no idea that bed bugs could be an issue, only to wake up with mysterious bites after one night. They ask Google what the bites could be, and find out that the bite pattern probably indicates bed bugs. 

At that point, it’s safe to assume that the insects have made their way into clothes or other luggage. The good news? Just because there are probably bed bugs in your hotel room doesn’t mean you’re doomed to bring them home with you

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and you can start by making sure that everything you bring can be washed and/or dried at high temperatures. These conditions are fatal to bed bugs, so if you can wash clothes, shoes, etc. on the hottest settings possible as soon as you get home, you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding an infestation.

If you’ll be checking luggage on a plane and you’re concerned about picking up bed bugs there, simply wrap your suitcases in plastic. Double-check to ensure that your wrapping is compliant with security regulations, and enjoy your peace of mind in knowing that your luggage will be free of bed bugs when you pick it up at your destination.

You could also check out online hotel reviews to see if anyone mentions bed bugs or any other insects for that matter. Pay attention to not only the mention of run-ins with insects but also how the staff or management dealt with the issue.

Treating bed bug bites

The main concern here is accidentally bringing bed bugs home with you – after all, exterminating bed bugs can cost well over $1,000 – but the bites can be pretty nasty as well. They may take a while to show up, but once they do, everyone has a slightly different reaction

Some people will just notice tiny red marks without any itching, but others will see the same clusters of bites swell up and start itching like crazy. If itching is an issue, calamine lotion (an anti-itch cream) should help; antihistamines can also reduce the discomfort. As long as they’re left alone, the bites should heal on their own in a week or less.

What happens if you end up bringing bed bugs home?

The best way to fully eliminate the infestation is to call an exterminator. If you’d prefer to try your own hand at getting rid of them, there are sprays that kill bed bugs on contact. However, there’s a higher chance that you’ll miss a spot or leave some eggs behind.

The takeaway

Bed bugs can be a nightmare to deal with, whether you’ve found them in a hotel room, or brought them back with you from a long plane ride. Fortunately, there are several fairly effective ways to ensure that your travel plans remain unaffected by these insects.