How To Avoid Bed Bugs When Travelling

Seeing all the headlines about Paris’ bed bug resurgence can make travel planning a bit nerve-wracking. These little bloodsuckers are reported to be crashing hotels, homes and even hopping on public transport throughout Europe!

So, we’ve got some easy tips and tricks to help you avoid bed bugs when travelling. Stay stress-free with our guide to battling the bed bug invasion.

Chelsea avoid bed bugs in hotel
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How Bed Bugs Spread

Bed bugs don’t have wings, so they’re slow movers, and that’s why infestations tend to move slowly. But they have a knack for travelling on your clothes, bedding and furniture and they’re sneaky enough to stow away in your luggage. Rather than moving directly from one place to another by latching directly onto people like lice do, bed bugs choose to hitch a ride on your clothes and belongings.

Contrary to what you might think, bed bugs aren’t attracted to dirt and filth; they’re all about warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. That’s why they thrive in dim spots where people hang out for extended periods. Hotel rooms are a hotspot for these critters, but they can also pop up in more unexpected places, like planes, train seats, buses and rental cars, although that’s less common.

Tips To Avoid Bed Bugs When You Travel

Before setting out on your travels, you can put in place some easy measures to avoid bed bugs and prevent them from tagging along and hitching a ride back home.

Here are some tips on how to avoid bed bugs before your travels:

1. Before You Travel

Opt for hard-cased luggage

While not impossible, bed bugs have a harder time attaching themselves to rigid materials like hard-cased luggage, compared to fabric suitcases and bags.

Use re-sealable vacuum plastic bags

Pack your belongings in re-sealable plastic vacuum bags to make it more difficult for bed bugs to find their way onto your clothes.

Don't forget a small flashlight

It's a good idea to include a small flashlight in your travel gear to help you thoroughly inspect your surroundings for any signs of bed bugs. You could also use your phone light.

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2. Avoid Bed Bugs on Your Holiday

To steer clear of bed bugs on your holiday, be sure to kick things off with a room inspection as soon as you arrive at your hotel. Don’t be fooled by appearances; a bed bug infestation has little to do with cleanliness so you could equally find bed bugs in a two star motel or five star luxury hotel.

Pay extra attention to the bed sheets; look for brown or red marks. Watch out for the young bed bugs (just 1.6 mm), the adult bugs (about 5-9 mm), cast-off skins and those telltale poo spots.

Here are some top tips on how to avoid bed bugs while on holiday:

Learn to recognise bed bugs and the telltale signs they're around

Keep your eyes peeled for any signs of these critters – living bugs, bloodstains, deceased bed bugs or their little eggs.

Have a thorough inspection of the room

Give beds and box spring bases a good inspection, paying close attention to all the seams and crevices. Don't forget to give pillows, furniture, the area behind your headboard and any drawers a thorough look-over.

Don’t put your luggage on the bed

Bed bugs love dark, cool spots and are quick to hitch a ride on your luggage. To avoid them, always put your bags on a hard elevated surface instead of the bed or upholstered furniture.

Don’t unpack your clothes

If you're only on a short stay, think about sealing your clothes in plastic vacuum bags and leaving your belongings inside your suitcase.

Speak up if you spot bed bugs

If you ever stumble upon signs of bed bugs, don't be shy! Tell the manager right away and ask for a new room.

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3. When You Get Home

Despite all the careful steps you’ve taken, there’s always a chance that a sneaky bed bug might have tagged along in your luggage.

Here’s how to treat your luggage and avoid bed bugs once you’re back home:

Unpack your luggage in the bathroom against light-coloured surfaces

To spot any unexpected stowaways, it's best to sort through your clothes on a clear surface rather than on a carpet or bed. Give your clothes a good shake in the shower or bathtub.

Treat your luggage and belongings

If you suspect you've discovered bed bugs in your luggage or you simply want to take extra precautions, consider washing your things at a high temperature (above 60°C and then tumble dry for at least 30 minutes) or giving them a deep freeze (below -20°C for around 3 or 4 days).

Give your luggage a good once-over

Check every nook and cranny, like seams, pockets, and straps. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even vacuum those hard-to-reach spots and then place the vacuum bag in the freezer so you can reuse it. Of course, if you strongly suspect bed bugs, you'll want to dispose of the vacuum bag entirely.

Avoid Bed Bugs and Have a Stress Free Holiday

All the news about bed bugs in Europe may be unnerving, but don’t let it deter you from a good ol’ holiday. With a few precautionary measures and vigilance, you can avoid bed bugs and enjoy your travels critter-free. And remember, if you ever encounter these unwanted guests, don’t hesitate to inform the hotel manager right away – it can spare fellow travellers from a similar predicament.

From fake hotels and Airbnbs, taxi scams, and fraudulent airline Twitter accounts; we've got you covered on what to look out for with the most common holiday scams to avoid.
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How to avoid bed bugs when travelling

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