Five Tips To Prevent Bed Bugs When Traveling Or Hosting Guests

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Whether you're visiting family, staying at a five-star resort, or stopping for a night at a highway motel, bed bugs are a lurking concern. When traveling or hosting travelers it's important to take some steps to protect your home from an infestation.

Tip #1: Check the Registry

The Bed Bug Registry allows hotel guests to lodge bed bug reports so you can track any trouble spots. The registry is not a foolproof method. Not every bed bug infestation will be noted or factual, since the complaints are lodged voluntarily. Instead, use the registry as a guide. It's probably a good a idea to find different lodging if you see a hotel has had several complaints over a period of weeks or months. Also, take the time to call and ask the hotel what their bed bug policy is and when the last infestation occurred.

Tip #2: Inspect the Room

It's tempting to drop off your belongings and flop onto the bed after a long day of traveling, but first take a few minutes to inspect the room. Follow this procedure during your room inspection:

  1. If you must bring in your suitcase, set it in the bathroom. Bathrooms usually have no carpeting and don't harbor bed bugs.

  2. Pull up the sheets from the mattress. Inspect along the seams and cracks for the small brown bed bugs.

  3. Use a flashlight to check behind the headboard and under any rugs for the pests. If the room has a luggage rack, inspect it thoroughly for any signs of bed bugs.

If you do find bed bugs and you are staying in a hotel, you have two options. You can move to another hotel or you can request a room change. It's best to choose a room at least two floors away from the infested room. Make sure to inspect it thoroughly before choosing to stay.

Tip #3: Protect Your Belongings

Suitcases and jackets are the items most likely to bring bed bugs into your home. Keeping these items in a sealed plastic bag, such as a garbage bag, minimizes the chances of an infestation. If you can't seal them up, keep them in an area without carpeting and as far away from the bed as possible.

Tip #4: Unpack Safely

Don't rush to unpack once you get home. Instead, throw all your clothing into the dryer for at least 30 minutes. The heat will kill any bed bugs that hitchhiked in your clothing. You should also dry your shoes if possible, or at least wipe them down inside and out with a cloth and hot water.

Your suitcase also needs a thorough cleaning. Vacuum it out, making sure to get in every crevice. Storing it in a sealed plastic bag for storage will further ensure no bed bugs will make their way into your home.

Tip #5: Host Cautiously

When you have guests, whether it's family, friends, or kids at a child's sleepover, you must tread carefully to avoid offending anyone. You can minimize the chances of someone else bringing bed bugs into your home using these methods:

  • Hang jackets in an empty coat closet. Have a no shoes policy in the house, and keep the shoes in the same closet as the jackets.

  • Enclose mattresses in sealed mattress bag made for bed bug prevention. Provide blankets and bedding for your guests. For sleepovers, discourage kids from bringing their own sleeping bags.

  • If it won't cause offense, encourage overnight guests to launder their clothing upon arrival.

  • After your guests leave, wash the bedding and thoroughly vacuum the house, especially in the bedroom and coat closet. Dispose of the used vacuum bag by placing it in a sealed garbage sack.

Bed bug bites, which usually show as a line or cluster of small red spots, can take several days to appear. By the time they show, you may already have an infestation. If you do suspect bed bugs are in your home, it's imperative to opt for bedbug treatment immediately so the infestation doesn't become severe.