The holidays mean gathering with loved ones, enjoying delicious meals and often traveling great distances. During your travels, you may get to see friends and family members, but you could also be picking up some unwanted hitchhikers along the way: bedbugs!
Many bedbug problems are often started by accident as a result of a trip. As thousands of people travel through airports, ride in taxis and stay in hotels, they can often unknowingly bring bedbugs along with them in their suitcases. These bugs can make their way into your luggage and make the journey home with you, if you are not careful.
Below are a few tips to help you prevent bed bugs from coming home with you this holiday season:
Shut Bed Bugs Out During the Packing Process
Bedbugs will not be able to enter your suitcase if you do not allow any way in. You can reduce the risk of picking up bedbugs if you have a suitcase with a hard, smooth outer casing. If you already have a suitcase, it is still possible to make it harder for bedbugs to hitch a ride. Wrap all of your clothing and any other cloth items in plastic bags when packing.
Research Hotels before You Book
As suggested by ABC News (open in new window), before you book a room in a hotel over the holidays, it can help to check out the online reviews. Check to see if any past customers on review sites have mentioned bedbug problems at the hotel you are considering. The hotel itself is not likely going to be upfront about this information.
One possible free source you can use is the Bed Bug Registry (open in new window). This is a website completely devoted to allowing customers to report signs of bedbugs when traveling. The database contains over 12,000 locations where bedbugs have been reported.
Inspecting Your Hotel Room When You Arrive
Before you settle into a hotel room, even if the location has wonderful reviews, take a moment to inspect the room for signs of bedbugs. These tiny bugs can be very difficult to spot, but it is possible to find signs of their presence.
Pull back the bed sheets, and look between the mattress and box spring for any signs of eggs, feces or skin that has been shed. When you look at the surface of the mattress, you might find tiny specks of blood, where the bugs have bitten previous guests.
Keep Your Luggage Out of Reach
However you are traveling, and wherever you are staying this holiday season, it is wise to keep your things out of the reach of bedbugs. You can do this by using suitcase racks, keeping your luggage on top of dressers or other furniture, and keeping your luggage in your lp when riding in taxis, airplanes or other forms of public transportation. Bed bugs can climb into your bag from the floor or from one piece of luggage to another.
Taking Precautions When You Return Home
As soon as you return home from your holiday travels, it is best to assume that bed bugs could be hidden somewhere in your luggage. Wash and dry all of your clothing and any other cloth souvenirs in the warmest settings possible, even if they were not worn during your trip.
Thoroughly vacuum or steam clean your suitcase before you store it. Pay careful attention to the lining and any pockets where the bugs could be hiding. This may feel like a lot of trouble, especially after your holiday vacation, but it is much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to bed bug infestations.