We can all agree we hate bugs, right? Even if you respect their role in the circle of life or whatever, you probably don’t relish seeing them around your home. Any reasonable person would also not welcome the sight on them in a hotel or vacation rental—especially an invasive, hard-to-eliminate pest like bedbugs.
As disruptive to your relaxing plans as that might be, the worst-case scenario is unknowingly bringing the bugs back with you from vacation. It’s a horror that truly defies comprehension. Here’s how to avoid it.
Search the bedbug registry
Did you know there’s a bedbug registry? I didn’t, but now that I do, I can’t stop searching it. Before you take your next trip, plug your hotel options into the registry here. Past reports of bedbugs at your hotel’s location will pop up, but even if nothing does, don’t let your guard down. A lack of reports doesn’t always translate to a lack of bedbugs, plus there are other creepy-crawlies to consider that are not of the bedbug variety. (It’s also fun to just search for your address and your friends’ addresses. I’m proud to report my apartment building has never had a bedbug report.)
Check the room carefully
In addition to cleaning it, you should check your hotel room as soon as you get in for any signs of bugs. Two months ago, I was in Miami (in a swanky hotel no less) and didn’t notice until my second night that there was an ant infestation on—or maybe under, or around, or all three—the counter. The concierge helpfully moved me to a new room, but the ick of seeing ants all over everything stuck with me long after I had inspected all of my stuff.
Abarb Pest Services suggests looking at the seams of your mattress for bedbug activity (their droppings look like small black specks that will smear when you try to wipe them away). Check the floor and near cabinets for little feces that could indicate roaches. Check the mini fridge and counters for ants. If you spot anything, call the front desk and get out of there. Take pictures to document what you found, ask for a refund, and, if possible, switch hotels entirely. If bedbug activity is confirmed, report it to the registry.
Wrap everything up
You want to make sure that everything you’ve packed stays free of hitchhiking pests. This could involve using plastic bags or cling wrap to separate clean and dirty clothes in your luggage, plus your toiletries. Travel Noire also recommends using hard-shell suitcases or vinyl duffel bags that are easy to clean with disinfectant, as opposed to fabric bags.
Keeping everything separate and in airtight wrapping will help you see any invaders and keep them segregated, hopefully, to one stash of stuff in the event any do stow away with you.
Finally, don’t keep your luggage on the floor, and also keep it away from plushy surfaces like the bed, a couch, or a chair. Use the luggage rack or, if there isn’t one, a table to keep your clothes and belongings off the floor and away from the places bugs are most likely to nest.
If you’ve just returned home after a stay in an infested hotel, first on your to-do list should be grabbing the plastic-wrapped or bagged clothes from your luggage and tossing them in the dryer, advises Abarb Pest Services. Use the highest setting and leave them in there for 30 to 60 minutes to kill bedbugs, roaches, and other critters. Vacuum out your luggage thoroughly and wipe them down with your standard cleaning products. If you’re truly concerned (especially about bedbugs) you can treat your luggage with pesticide or steam clean it (or both).
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