Ah, travel! It broadens horizons, fills our hearts with joy, and… potentially brings home unwanted pests. Yes, we’re talking about bed bugs, those tiny, flat, blood-sucking insects that no one wants as a travel souvenir.

As professional bed bug exterminators, we’ve seen firsthand the havoc these pests can wreak on a peaceful home. Rest assured, however, that with a few simple strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs back from your travels and hotel stays.

Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home From Your Travels

8 Ways to Protect Your Home from Bed Bugs After a Vacation

These tried and tested tips are your Ultimate Hotel Stay Survival Guide and minimise the risk of bringing nasty bed bug infestation upon your home:

Before You Even Check-In: Do Your Research

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to bed bugs. Before booking your hotel, take a few minutes to do some research. Look for online reviews that specifically mention bed bugs. Websites like TripAdvisor or Bed Bug Registry allow users to report encounters with these critters. While not foolproof, these reviews can give you a good idea of the hotel’s cleanliness standards.

Upon Arrival: Inspect Your Room Like a Pro

The moment you step into your hotel room, resist the urge to collapse on the bed and let out a satisfied sigh. Instead, take a few minutes to give the room a thorough once-over. Look for live bed bugs (they’re reddish-brown, oval, approximately the size of an apple seed), rusty or reddish stains (from crushed bed bugs), or tiny dark spots (bed bug excrement). Other signs that point to bed bug infestation are unnatural, musty, and sweet odour around the bed and furnishings and shed exoskeletons (they look like tiny brown bug-shaped shells).

Here’s which areas of your hotel room to check:

  • The bed: Starting your inspection from this place is self-explanatory – bed bugs attack people when they are asleep, so it’s the most likely spot to find signs of infestation. Chances for you to find any signs of bed bug activity on the sheets and pillow cases are slim to none, as the bed linens have been changed before your arrival. So pull them back and inspect the mattress seams, especially the corners and piping.
  • Furniture and upholstery: Don’t just focus on the bed. Despite their name, bed bugs love to hide in crevices and folds of all types of soft furniture, such as chairs, sofas, and headboards. Give them a thorough checkup with a torch or your phone light.
  • Luggage stands and racks: Those seemingly innocuous luggage stands or racks provide plenty of hiding places for bed bugs. Inspect them closely for any signs of infestation before placing your bags down. Cracks and crevices are prime hiding spots.
  • Hidden nooks and crannies: Think beyond the obvious. Check behind picture frames, inside drawers, along the edges of carpets, and anywhere else a sneaky bed bug might lurk.

Read also: How to Recognise Bed Bug Faeces?

Keep Your Bags Elevated

Here’s a simple yet effective tip: avoid placing your luggage directly on the floor or the bed. If a luggage rack is available, use it, but be sure to inspect it first. If there’s no rack, opt for a hard surface like a table or dresser instead of soft furnishings.

Bed Bugs in Luggage

Suit Up Your Luggage – Literally!

Consider investing in sealable plastic bags or protective luggage liners. You can find these products online. They are inexpensive but quite effective in protecting your belongings from crawling pests. Both sealable bags and protective liners add an extra layer of defence against bed bugs trying to hitch a ride home in your suitcase.

Read also: How to Protect Your Luggage From Bed Bugs

Dirty Laundry? Not in This Hotel Room!

Bed bugs are drawn to dirty laundry and use it as a hiding place. Of course, you don’t have to spoil your vacation by washing everything you wear right away. Just keep your worn clothes in sealed plastic bags instead of leaving them piled up on a chair.

Use Scents to Your Advantage

Certain natural oils deter bed bugs. Researchers even claim that certain substances in these oils can kill pesky insects by drying them out. The scents that work most efficiently are oregano, thyme, pepper wort, wild bergamot, lemongrass, and clove. You can sprinkle a few drops of your preferred essential oil directly onto your suitcase or dilute it by rubbing alcohol and water to use the liquid as a bed-bug deterrent spray.

Check also: How to Kill Bed Bugs Instantly

Keep Your Belongings Packed

If you notice something suspicious during your investigation, it is best to change your accommodation. However, this isn’t always possible – if you arrive late at night or stay just for a day between two destinations. If this is the case, you can keep your luggage packed during your stay. Many people actually keep their belongings unpacked during their travels, even if there are no obvious signs of bed bugs. Their “better safe than sorry” strategy often proves healthy. To be extra safe, every textile piece from your luggage shall remain sealed in a plastic bag before and after use.

Returning Home: Don’t Bring the Party With You

Your trip might have ended, but the battle against bed bugs isn’t over. You might have prevented them from coming into your luggage in the hotel… But what about your trip back? Luggage is piled together on flights, in waiting rooms, etc. That is why making one last inspection is not too cautious.

Here’s what to do when you return home:

  • Inspect your luggage: Before bringing your bags inside, give them a thorough once-over for any signs of bed bugs.
  • Unpack outside or in a designated area: Ideally, unpack your bags in a garage, laundry room, or even outside (weather permitting) instead of your bedroom. This step minimises the risk of introducing bed bugs into your living space.
  • Wash everything on high heat: Now’s the time to crank up the heat! Run all your clothes and laundry at your washing machine’s highest temperature. Bed bugs and their eggs are no match for high temperatures – a cycle at 60 °C for 30 minutes kills all bed bugs and eggs. Even a 40 °C cycle for an hour is enough to terminate all adults and around 25% of the eggs.

Read also: How to Wash Clothes and Bed Linens to Kill Bed Bugs

Staying Vigilant: Early Detection is Key

Even after following these steps, it’s wise to remain vigilant for a while after your trip. Bed bug bites are the most obvious sign of an infestation. They typically appear in clusters on exposed skin and can be itchy and red. Additionally, you might see live bed bugs or their droppings around your mattress or furniture. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment, so don’t hesitate to call a professional pest control service if you suspect an infestation.

Check also: What Are the Signs Of Bed Bug Infestation

Remember, You’re Not Alone: Call in the Bed Bug Brigade!

Let’s face it: bed bugs are a persistent pest. While these tips can significantly reduce your risk of bringing them home, sometimes professional help is necessary. If you are battling a bed bug infestation, don’t hesitate to contact us!

When dealing with infestations, Bed Bug Specialist London offers two effective control options: steam and spray treatment and heat treatment. Our specialist will advise which one would be more efficient, depending on the situation’s severity and the property’s size.