Bed bugs live where people congregate: homes, apartments, schools, offices, and hotels. They can be found in any travel accommodation, from the most luxurious resorts to the cheapest motels.
Traveling this year? Make sure you don't bring home an unexpected souvenir (in the form of a bed bug) from your trip. Read our guide below on how to avoid bed bugs in hotels and vacation rentals.
The biggest risk of staying in a hotel with bed bugs isn't being bitten during your stay (although no one wants that), it's bringing bed bugs home with you and creating an infestation in your own home.
Follow these tips when packing to protect your belongings and your home from being introduced to bed bugs:
- Use hard-sided luggage without zippers: Bed bugs are attracted to cloth and are small enough to maneuver their way through most zippers.
- Seal all items in large Ziploc bags inside your suitcase: Keep these bags sealed and as air-tight as possible while in the hotel room. If the bag is not air-tight, it is not bed bug proof! Travel space bags will also work and are easy to roll in your suitcase.
- Keep luggage off the floor: Use a luggage rack, preferably a metal one, to keep your luggage off the floor of the hotel room during your stay. Bed bugs are not attracted to metal and are more likely to infest your suitcase if it is left on the floor, bed, or dresser.
Inspect Your Hotel Room
Once you arrive at your hotel, perform a thorough scan of the room before bringing your luggage inside. Inspect the mattress, headboard, dresser(s), and nightstands before placing your personal belongings in the room. Using a flashlight, pay special attention to the seams and tufts of your mattress and the corners and seams of dresser and nightstand drawers. If you need to bring your belongings inside with you immediately when you arrive at the hotel, place your luggage in the bathtub while you conduct your search.
When performing your inspection, look for the following:
- Tiny black spots (excrement) on linens
- Blood spots on linens
- Translucent light brown skin castings
- Actual live bed bugs
If you find any of the above, either request a different room or move to a new hotel entirely! Repeat the inspection in your new location.
Don't Forget the Bed Bug Spray!
We recommend packing some bed bug travel spray just in case you encounter a bed bug during your travels. Travel sprays are not meant to combat an infestation. Instead, they are to be used on your luggage to kill a token bed bug or two.
Steri-Fab is a spray used during the bed bug control process that also kills bed bugs directly on contact. The bottle is much larger than the bed bug travel spray bottle, but the product is just as effective.
Checking Out and Arriving Home
After enjoying a (hopefully) bed bug free vacation, perform two last checks to ensure the only thing you will be taking home with you are the memories of your trip.
When Checking Out
- Inspect items closely for bed bugs or signs of bed bugs before placing them back into your suitcase.
- If time permits, launder your clothing in hot water and dry in a hot dryer, then place your fresh clothing in air-tight Ziploc bags, and pack directly into your suitcase. The hot temperatures of washing and drying will kill bed bugs.
- Spray bed bug travel spray or Steri-Fab in or around your suitcase to knockdown any potential hitchhikers.
Upon Arriving Home
- Perform a quick scan of your luggage outside, perhaps on your driveway, before bringing luggage inside.
- Inspect items one by one as they are removed from your suitcase for the final time.
- Unpack clothing directly into your washing machine and launder in hot water and dry on high heat again.
- Spray suitcase all over with Steri-Fab as a final precautionary measure.