The summer is right around the corner, and it’s time to get your vacation on! It is important to get those trips in, even if money is tight. Stay-cations are just as beneficial to get some relaxation.
With a trip out of state, or in-state, there is a chance that you will be staying in a hotel. It has been awhile since there have been reports in the news that there has been an outbreak of bed bugs, but it can still be a concern. I am traveling to New York next week, so of course it is on my mind. The last thing I want to do is bring back some un-invited guests back to my house.
When you get to your hotel here are some steps to take to make sure you are bed bug free. There is more of a chance that you won’t have to deal with them, but it is important to know how to look for and avoid these little critters. These steps are just in case. Better safe than sorry.
Inspect the bed – Pull back the linens, and check all the way around and under the mattress and behind the headboard. Also, check for them hiding in corners and seams of the bedding. Be on the lookout for small blood stains or black dots that look like mold or ground pepper, says Christine Johnson, Ph.D., a behavioral ecologist in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, in New York City. Check for the critters too. Bedbugs are about the size and shape of an apple seed.
Check the room – Next, search all around your room and around your bed/beds. Look behind picture frames, under telephone, alarm clock and under and inside books and brochures. Check the cushions and seams of couches or chairs. Studies show that if there are bed bugs, they can be found within 15 feet of the bed.
Also watch for traces of white powder, it could be a pesticide used to treat a previous problem. Insecticides are not healthy for anyone, especially young children and if you are pregnant.
Keep your luggage off the ground – Use the suitcase stand, dresser or desk. Don’t leave your clothes on the floor or lying around.
“Bedbugs can travel (from) room to room, so even if initially you don’t have them, they could be in the room next to yours and they may come looking for meal sources,” she Henriksen.
Consider wrapping your suitcase or clothes in plastic – Storage and luggage retailers sell plastic bags specifically for this reason. This step can protect your things not just at your hotel, but bedbugs can also hide in airplanes, trains, and taxis
“I’ve even seen people traveling with garbage bags wrapped around their suitcases,” Henriksen says.
Move two floors away – If you notice anything mentioned, ask to be moved at least two floors away. That should be far enough from the outbreak. The hotel should be more than willing to oblige. They want to take care of the problem as soon as possible, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
Post-vacation plan – When you return home from vacation, wash all your clothing-even the items you didn’t wear-in hot water. Bedbugs can’t survive in temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit, says Henriksen, so this will assure they don’t take up residence in your drawers and closets. (Sending delicates to the dry cleaner will work, too.)
Unpack your suitcase outside or in the garage. Inspect and vacuum out your suitcases before storing them away, as well-and if you’ve invested in a plastic luggage case, keep it sealed up until you need it next.
Know what bedbug bites look like – Bite marks are one sign that you may have brought bedbugs home with you, says Henriksen. “They often bite in a line-shaped pattern, in threes: In the industry we call that breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
Itching or bites alone aren’t enough to confirm an infestation, however. If you experience these symptoms, you will need a professional home evaluation before you can seek treatment.