Bed bug infestations are more widespread than you’d think and harder to manage than you’d expect. But, in case you haven’t faced such an issue so far, you’re probably still blissfully unaware of the prevention measures you’re required to take against bed bugs. Especially when on the go.
So, we are going to give you all the essential information in the paragraphs below – how do bed bugs enter your place, how to keep your belongings secured, and how to travel the world without bringing any undesired invaders along with you.
Luggage is Number One Entry Point for Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are some of the best natural hitchhikers. By following their instincts, they are continually searching for dark and hidden places to lurk into until they can jump on to their next “host.”
This being said, the most often reported way of suffering a bed bug infestation begins through the luggage – the suitcases, backpacks, and textiles you’re bringing along while travelling.
Bed bugs can reside in public transportation and aeroplane seats, hotel rooms, and common accommodation areas of all types. Often, their presence is not evident before the infestation is severe. So the only way to stay safe is to have a stringent prevention plan to stick to with no exception.
How to Protect Your Belongings When on the Go?
Although you can never have a 100% guarantee of protection, there’s much you can do to minimise the chance of getting bed bugs while travelling.
Unfortunately, traditional repellents are not exactly effective as a prevention method. So instead of relying on them, you will be expected to develop a list of vital yet straightforward habits for shielding your luggage.
#1 Know The Risk and Stay Cautious
Being alert is the first step towards success. The “it won’t happen to me” mindset is often a recipe for the perfect disaster. Therefore, our first and most fundamental advice is to never deliberately leave things to mere luck.
The chances of getting bed bugs while travelling are massive, and not taking measures against it can cost your time, effort, and money in the long run.
#2 Consider Using a Special Suitcase Bag
Contrary to what you might think, hard-shell luggage is not automatically safe. Bed bugs can easily sneak into the zippers and every other minor opening – straight into the inside of your luggage.
Therefore, the easiest and most important thing to do is appropriately sealing the outside of your suitcase, with no exceptions. There are multiple products you can use for that purpose – a special suitcase liner, for example.
In fact, there are even specially designed suitcases that use a built-in infrared technology to perform heat treatment to all of its contents. Despite their relatively higher price, you can consider them an intelligent investment that will, more or less, spare the need for every other prevention measure from now on.
#3 Seal Your Textiles Properly
Sealing the contents of your luggage is just as important as sealing the outer part of your suitcase. So, always take the time to pack your textiles and accessories in separate plastic bags, preferably vacuum storage bags.
This way, you can keep your stuff secured even if the bed bugs somehow find their way into your suitcase and/or backpack. This is a relatively easy solution that works well most of the time.
A bonus level of protection will come if you spread diatomaceous earth inside your suitcase. It is a well-known and generally well-working bed bug repellent that can play a significant role in your prevention plan.
#4 Check The Places Where You Stay and Unpack
Intuitively, you may relate bed bug infestations to places that lack hygiene and maintenance. But, unfortunately, it is not always as simple as that.
Theoretically speaking, higher-class hotels are supposed to guarantee better hygiene. However, in practice, once bed bugs infest the area, they can remain unnoticed for weeks. What’s more – they cannot be gotten rid of with a mere vacuum cleaning or regular after-customer care – it’s crucial how the accommodation managers address this issue specifically and how long it takes for them to even spot it.
What can you do to protect yourself?
● First, you can check if your chosen accommodation has been reported for bed bugs.
● Second, you can perform a thorough on-site inspection upon arrival. This includes not only beds but also wardrobes, drawers, nightstands, carpets, and loose wallpapers. The signs to look for include red or brown spotting, a repulsive smell, or visible bed bug shells.
These extra 10 minutes of caution can spare you the trouble of having to deal with a few intruders for weeks and months afterwards.
#5 Keep Your Clothes Unpacked if You Notice Anything Suspicious
Suppose the pre-described investigation brings anything suspicious to your eye. In that case, you can either change accommodation or avoid unpacking your luggage during your stay.
Every textile piece you use shall remain sealed in a plastic bag – both before and after using it. In fact, many people prefer to keep their belongings unpacked even if there are no apparent signs of bed bugs in the place. The “better safe than sorry” strategy often proves healthy.
#6 Inspect Your Luggage and Suitcase Before You Set Home
The next in-depth analysis of your belongings comes just before you leave your hotel room.
Bed bugs excrete blood after feeding, so there will probably be hints of them after a few nights of your stay – bedding and pillow stains, for example.
If such warnings do not exist, you still can’t go wrong with double-checking by following a few manageable steps:
● Pick a bright, non-carpeted area and bring your suitcase to it;
● Wipe the floor with a wet cloth and make sure there are no eye-distracting particles;
● Bring your suitcase to the spot and shake it lightly;
● Look for any signs of bed bugs on the surface – shed skins, bed bug shells, or actual bed bugs.
If there are such, calling a bed bug specialist would be the wisest thing to do. The next best on the list would be vacuuming all of your belongings and transporting them safely to a place where they can undergo professional heat treatment.
#7 Develop a Strict Post-Trip Hygiene Routine
Once you’re finally home, you should be more cautious than ever. To make sure you’re minimising the risk of unexpected infection, do the following:
● Launder all of your textiles in the highest temperatures that the fabric can tolerate;
● Heat-dry at 45°C for at least 20 minutes if the fabric allows it;
● In cases when heat treatment is not applicable, do precisely the opposite – freeze your belongings at -5°C for at least 5 days;
● After the heat or cold treatment is done, vacuum your belongings to remove all lingering bugs and their remains;
● Immediately take away and dispose of the vacuum cleaning bag after sealing it in another plastic bag.
Complicated as it may sound, this procedure is indeed more manageable than having to undergo a bed bug removal later.
#8 Stay Alert
Last but not least – keep your eyes open at all times. The sooner you spot a bed bug problem, the easier it would be for you to fix it.
Act upon the first signs of an infestation and do not hesitate to seek professional consultation when in doubt. A licensed on-site examination is a guarantee that you won’t leave the problem untreated, and you will be able to reclaim your comfort before a minor problem evolves into a disaster.