As we enter further into the holiday season, many are gearing up to get ready to travel. As exciting as trips can be, that post-vacation glee can quickly wear off with the detection of undesirable hitchhikers. Bed bugs can easily be picked up in various places while out and about traveling. A few prominent hotspots for bed bug activity and transmission include hotel rooms, airports, and public transportation systems.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny, parasitic insects that feed on human blood, usually at night due to the insect's nocturnal nature. Bed bugs closely resemble the appearance of an apple seed, and have brown flat bodies. Adults are typically as small as 1/4" in length.
Bed bugs have origins dating back to Ancient Egypt, and they are thought to have been brought to the U.S. by the early American colonists. These hitchhiking pests are very easy to transmit from one place to another through clothing, luggage, purses, bedding, as well as secondhand furniture or bed items. Although these nuisances are a pain to get rid of, there are some cautionary measures you can take while traveling to reduce your risk of giving them a ride home.
Tips for Bed Bug Prevention
1. Inspect Your Travel Accommodations
When staying somewhere like a hotel, it is important to survey and inspect your room before any unpacking of your luggage is done. Important places to check for bed
bugs are behind headboards and any type of wall hangings, mattresses and box springs, bed sheets, dressers, and furniture such as chairs or couches. Bed bugs tend to hide in crevices, so be sure to thoroughly examine all of these areas, especially crevices in the mattress and bedding. While inspecting the sheets, check for any sign of tiny blood stains left behind by bed bugs.
2. Keep Your Luggage Elevated
If possible, it is ideal to keep your luggage elevated on something such as a luggage rack to keep it off the floor. The luggage rack should be kept away from the bed, and should also be pulled out to be away from the wall. This makes it harder for these pests to travel into your luggage and hitch a ride home.
3. Check Your Luggage Before Your Return
Before bringing your luggage into your home, closely examine your clothing as well as any crevices where bed bugs could be hiding inside. It is a good idea to vacuum suitcases before allowing them to enter back into your home. Similarly, check your vehicle for any signs of bed bugs after traveling with the luggage, and examine the trunk, seats, and anywhere your luggage was sitting. If you are traveling when it is hot outside, such as in the Florida summertime, you can leave your luggage in the heated car for 24 hours before examining it and bringing it inside. This is because bed bugs are killed by intense heat.
4. Immediately Put Any Clothing in the Dryer
Since bed bugs are killed by intense heat, it is highly recommended to run your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes right away upon returning home from your travels.