Don’t let bedbugs keep you down during your New Years’ Travel. Nothing will make you lose sleep faster than wondering if the bed you are sleeping in is secretly harboring creepy crawly blood-sucking bedbugs. Protect your peace of mind by being prepared, taking the proper precautions, and using preventative measures to make sure you don’t inadvertently bring a few unwanted visitors back home with you. Even though the bedbug infestation is widespread, you can travel safely by following a few simple rules at each step of your trip. We put together this helpful checklist so you can sleep tight without worrying if anything will bite or go bump in the night.
1. Before You Leave
Preventative packing is the first step toward a bed bug free trip.
- When selecting your suitcases, pick any that have a hard shell. Because there are fewer places for bedbugs to hide, you are less likely to return home with more than souvenirs if you can use this type of suitcase.
- Buy a box of large Ziploc bags from the grocery store and pack everything in them, not just the items like shampoo that may leak.
- Pack a few essentials in the battle against bedbugs including a flashlight, a roll of masking tape, and one plastic trash bag for each piece of luggage you are bringing. Don’t forget to count briefcases, backpacks, laptop bags, and purses as luggage.
- Call your hotel or other accommodations and ask if they have had a problem with bedbugs and what they do for detection and prevention. No need to change your reservation if a hotel has had a previous problem, in some respects, that may be the best place to stay since the hotel staff will be hyper vigilant to prevent additional problems. You can also do a search for the name of your hotel and bedbugs to see if there are any reports about previous problems. No matter with you are staying in the finest London accommodation or in a beach side shack in Belize, be sure to call to check.
2. When You Arrive
Conduct a thorough inspection of your room to ensure it is bedbug free. It is important to know what you are looking for in order to conduct a thorough search. Adult bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed and reddish-brown in color. Their flat bodies are easy to hide in cracks, crevices, and fabric folds. In addition to live bedbugs, you want to watch for signs that there were/are bedbugs in the room. Look for evidence of fecal matter on the sheets and linens which will resemble black or brown pepper and for empty body shells.
- Upon arriving in your hotel room, place all luggage in the bathtub or shower and grab your flashlight.
- Start at the bed and use the flashlight to look at the headboard, behind the headboard, under the bed, under the mattress, along the piping of the mattress, and at the box spring.
- Check the linens for black or brown spots.
- Next check the bedside table including inside and underneath any drawers and underneath the table itself.
- Check along the baseboards, in and under the dresser drawers, in the closet, in the drapes, any upholstered fabric furnishings paying special attention to crevices and folds, and behind mirrors and pictures.
- If you do not find any evidence of past or present bedbugs, you can rest easy.
- If you do, alert the front desk and request a different room that is not in any way adjacent to the first room. Make sure you search the new room just as carefully.
- Once you have completed your search, move your luggage into the room and place it on the luggage rack. The luggage rack and suitcase should be away from the wall and any furniture.
- Your best defense is not to unpack your belongings but rather leave them in your suitcase encased in their plastic bags until you need them. Use the trash bags you brought from home to enclose each piece of luggage, taping the bag closed whenever you are not accessing your belongings.
- Keep your shoes in the bathroom or inside one of the trash bags rather than in the closet or under the bed.
3. When You Get Home
In order to make sure you arrive without any stowaways that can invade your home and cost serious money to eradicate, make sure your prevention program doesn’t stop at your front door.
- When you arrive home, unpack your bags in the garage or outside. Carefully inspect your belongings as you unpack them for evidence of unwanted guests.
- Wash all clothes on the hottest setting, even those that were not worn during the trip. Dry everything on a high temperature setting for at least 30 minutes.
- Vacuum or steam-clean your suitcase inside and out before putting it away.
- If you have items that can’t be washed, seal them in plastic bags and set them outside in the sun for 10-14 days.
With proper preparation and the right precautions you can feel confident that you have done all you can to ensure that you will sleep tight and not need to worry about letting the bedbugs bite.
Happy (almost) 2012!