Traveling is an exciting experience that expands our horizons and enriches our souls. But it’s not just about the foreign landscapes, unique cultures, and mouthwatering delicacies. It’s also about ensuring you have a safe and comfortable lodging space, bringing us to an unsettling topic that could easily damage your travel experience—bed bugs. The issue has reemerged following incidences in Paris. However, my flight attendant colleagues have always been vigilant in hotel rooms. Some unions have advised their members to take proactive steps, and I think the traveling public should also do the same.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They are notorious for their bites, which can cause rashes, itching, and other allergic symptoms. Although they don’t transmit diseases, an infestation can significantly affect your quality of life and travel experience.
How Do They Spread?
Bed bugs are stowaways. They latch onto your luggage, clothes, or even you to travel from one place to another. Hotels, hostels, and other lodging options are common breeding grounds. Why? Because they have a constant flow of human traffic—it is perfect for these pests to hop from one guest to another.
How to Inspect for Bed Bugs in Hotels?
As soon as you enter your hotel room, don’t unpack. Place your luggage on the luggage rack or in the bathroom. Bed bugs prefer fabric and wood over ceramic and metal. Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams and the area around the headboard. Look for tiny, dark bugs and small brownish stains. Bed bugs can hide in sofas, chairs, and other furniture. Always check the seams and folds. Apart from living bugs, look for tiny eggshells, skin sheds, and small black or brown fecal spots.
Use hard-shelled luggage that is less inviting to bed bugs. Keep your luggage elevated on racks and away from beds and walls. Consider using plastic bags to encase your luggage or belongings. Before settling into your room, use a flashlight to aid your inspection.
What to Do if You Encounter Bed Bugs
Immediately alert the hotel management and ask for a different room. Ensure it’s not adjacent to the room where you found bed bugs. Hot water is lethal to bed bugs. Wash all your clothes in hot water as soon as you get the chance. For items that cannot be washed, use a steamer on them. Hot steam can kill bed bugs and their eggs.
At the end of the day (literally), bed bugs are inconvenient, but they should not ruin your travel experience. A well-informed traveler is a prepared traveler. Make sure to inspect, prevent, and act swiftly to ensure your journeys are as pleasurable as you dreamt they would be.