How to stay safe from bedbugs while traveling

If you’re of the mindset that it would be impossible to encounter bedbugs while on vacation this summer, well, then think again. They can strike anyone, anywhere, and at any time. I’ll never forget my first sighting of a friend who had just returned from vacation – it was an atrocious sight. The torso was streaked with massive, raised red welts from the buttocks region all the way across the thoracic area, on the front, side, and back of the body. She said it hurt too. And this happened to a seasoned traveler well aware that sinister little creatures could be hanging around in a hotel room.

Indeed, I felt bad for my friend, but was also alarmed by the possibility that the bugs hitched a free ride home with her in their quest for more blood, guts and glory. To be honest, I wanted to push her out of the apartment door, and fast. Bedbugs actually peak during the summertime, which, darn it, coincides with summer vacation – wreaking havoc on travelers across the land.

So how do you protect yourself from bedbugs while traveling through time and space (not bedbug sci-fi, but here and now)? Here’s how to spot and identify those unwanted and nasty bloodsucking bedfellows, and also how to impede their progress in returning home with you.

Do you see any signs of stains

Before you begin to unpack the bags and settle in, it’s important to take a few minutes to check the mattress. Pull back the bedding and look around carefully for small brown or black spots. Stains are a telltale sign of these blood loving creatures and is also the green light to high tail it out of the room. It’s not worth the flip side of a night’s stay with bedbugs.

Learn what a bedbug looks like

Ask around and see which one of your friends can properly identify a bedbug. Chances are that not many of them are able to identify the right one out of an insectile suspect line up at the insect police station. Brush up on your knowledge of these creatures during the various stages of their life cycle. But to get you started, here are the basics: they usually range in size from 1 mm to 7 mm. The bodies can be a tan color, brown or reddish-brown one. The shape of the body is teardrop, flat, and without wings.

Apologies in advance for the grossness here … bedbugs actually defecate digested blood. It will look like someone has taken a fine-tip black marker to a mattress, like a mad hatter art project.

Bedbugs can be found in luxury hotels too

A point to hit home is that no matter where you choose to spend the night, say you’ve dropped a thousand gs for fancy accommodations, it’s still susceptible to having bedbugs. Just a few minutes of checking the bed and the areas around it will give you peace of mind – or not.

The areas of the mattress towards the headrest are the hottest spots for bug activity. Rooms are often kept with dim lighting, so go ahead and open up the phone’s flashlight for a more thorough inspection.

You can see bedbugs or their eggs (that look like little grains of rice) with your eye. If you have performed an initial check, as described above, without coming across anything, you can likely breathe easy. Don’t go turning over the whole room like a crime scene.

Be mindful of your luggage

While staying over somewhere, it’s best to keep your luggage on a hardwood or tile surface, or the like. Alternatively, keep it up on a luggage rack or on top of a dresser. And when possible, keep your clothing in your bag, not strewn around the room.

What to do if you find bedbugs

In a hotel, it’s easy enough to request a different room should you find proof of their existence. If you’re staying at an Airbnb, call the company’s 24-hour customer service line for assistance with rebooking and refund if the unfortunate situation occurs. And then there’s always the option of leaving and going somewhere else.