How to avoid bed bugs while traveling

by nobugsonme on October 19, 2006 · 95 comments

in bed bugs, bedbugs, FAQs, information and help, tools and weapons, travel, treatment in hotels

This FAQ gives tips on how to avoid bed bugs when you travel and how to search a hotel room for bed bugs and their signs. (The same techniques work for searching other rooms too.)

First, learn specific steps for checking a room for bed bugs. Check every room you sleep in.

This FAQ on searching a hotel room (from New York State Integrated Pest Management’s bed bug FAQs) is brief and excellent. NYSIPM also provides a printable Travel Card on this topic (click for a PDF) which you can carry with you.

Here’s a video of David Cain (of Bed Bugs Ltd. in London) very carefully searching a hotel room:

To check a room, you have to know what you’re looking for. See our photos of bed bugs signs of bed bugs, and photos of fecal stains on a hotel headboard and hotel mattress for examples.

Before you search the room, put your luggage in the bathtub or shower (assuming it’s dry) as the bathroom is less likely to be infested than other parts of the room.  Check the mattress, headboard, frame and pictures (as much as possible), following these instructions. Check the backs and undersides of chairs and under/inside the desk.  Carefully check to see the luggage rack is free of pests (look at it from top to bottom, and under the straps), then you can keep your luggage on the luggage rack (avoiding the bed or floor).

Many of us search the room with much less detail than David does in the video above. It may not be possible or feasible for you to take apart a hotel room in this manner. You may, for example, choose not to disassemble the entire bed, or remove the headboard. However, by doing a 5-10 minute search of the furniture (bed, table and chairs), baseboards, etc., you should be able to reassure yourself that there are no obvious visible signs of bed bugs. You should always still assume there may still be bed bugs present which you did not see, and take steps accordingly.

For more helpful tips, read this comprehensive article by entomologists Steven Kells and Jeff Hahn of the University of Minnesota, which describes the steps you should take if you’ve been exposed to bedbugs (but is also helpful on how to search for and avoid them in the first place).

Before you book a room, Google your hotel’s name and “bedbugs” and “bed bugs”; if you haven’t chosen one yet, look them up on tripadvisor.com. There, customers review hotels. If they had bad service, a small, outdated room, or (gasp!) bedbugs, you’ll hear about it. If you see one nasty report, of course, take it with a grain of salt. But multiple bad reviews, or reviews which repeat a particular critique, can be bad news. I have used tripadvisor many times and find the reviews useful not just to reassure me there are no bed bug reports at a hotel, but also to find good, moderately priced hotels, and a real insight into what rooms and service and location are like. Their highest ranked hotels are not always expensive and I have been very pleased when I have chosen them.

Canadian, US and UK hotels may also have complaints listed on bedbugregistry.com, but keep in mind, as with Tripadvisor.com, not everyone reports bed bugs (or even notices them).

Some sufferers suggest purchasing a bottle of a contact kill spray and using it in your hotel (spray mattress, etc.) I personally would not do this; a contact kill spray will kill bed bugs you can see–if they’re sprayed directly.  But it does nothing for bedbugs that are hiding, as they tend to do.

If you can see bed bugs, you should not be in the room! Leave! Insist on a bed bug free room, and take precautions when you get home to make sure you did not bring any hitchhikers home.

Remember: the idea behind searching a hotel room is not that you will necessarily see bed bugs if present.  If there is a small infestation, you may not see them.  You may still be bitten.  However, your chances of having a bad hotel experience (read: lots of bed bug bites in the room) or of taking bed bugs home with you will be smaller if there are few bed bugs present.  For this reason, it’s worth taking time to search.

Because you can never be 100% sure you were not exposed, consider taking some steps below to lessen your chance of infesting your home if you do happen to pick up a few hitchhikers.

A Packtite can be used once you get home to heat treat your luggage and many items you take with you on a trip. Read about Packtites and Packtite Closets. It is an investment, but can help you avoid an infestation if you heat items which may have been exposed to bed bugs. And if you ever get bed bugs, as we hope you won’t, it is a useful tool during treatment.  The Packtite should not be used on electronics or other heat-sensitive items.

Order PackTite from USBedBugs.com and Free Shipping with Coupon BBFREE

Luggage can go in the Packtite, and so can your belongings. The manufacturer recommends unpacking the luggage and treating it separately from the other items. (Keep items sealed in an airtight bag until they’re treated.)

While in the hotel room, you may want to seal smaller items in Ziploc Big Bags (Large, XL, XXL) inside the suitcase; in the hotel, keep the Ziplocs sealed.

Another option is to seal your entire suitcase, garment bag or other luggage item in a Ziplocs or in a BugZip luggage encasement while you’re in the hotel.  BugZip encasements are specially-designed for the purpose of sealing in luggage during your hotel stay.  There are also drawer liners which you can use if you want to pack items into a hotel or cruiseship drawer.

On BedBugBeware.com, David Cain recommends using a BugZip and treating items in a Packtite when you get home. I use a Packtite Closet when coming home to treat the empty luggage and then the clothing, and other contents which can be heated.

If you don’t have access to a Packtite, consider washing your clothing and drying on hot before returning it to your home. For luggage, consider a cheap duffel bag or other soft luggage which might be run through a dryer. Alternatively, bags can be kept sealed in a plastic case while in the room, in a BugZip, XL Ziploc or even a garbage bag closed in an airtight seal. Non-dryable items should be carefully inspected.

BugZip Bed Bug Resistant Luggage and Clothing Encasements

When you get home, visually inspect your suitcase and contents. Do not unpack your suitcase on the bed. Choose a light colored table or even the tub, so you can see what you’ve got.  Do it quickly, in case there are any bed bugs inside. Remove all clothes into XL ziplocs and seal them until they can be put through a Packtite or washed and dried on hot or dry cleaned. You should do this when you come home from a trip whether you’ve encountered bed bugs or not.

If you haven’t seen signs of bugs, you can unpack directly into a washing machine (wash and dry on hot; dry items can simply be dried on hot for 20 minutes or so unless you are dealing with extremely thick items). Deal with the case, too: you may not see young bed bugs hiding in seams.

Most of all, don’t stay home. The world is a beautiful place. You can get bedbugs without leaving your home if someone else’s home is attached. So get out there and enjoy the world. But be careful out there.

See these FAQs for more tips on How to get rid of bed bugs in your stuff, what to do if you are exposed to bed bugs, and how to kill bed bugs using washers and dryers.   You can also see this discussion on Metafilter.

If you have tips for avoiding bedbugs while traveling, or a story you want to share, please fill out the contact form!

Note: Please read the site’s disclosure policy. Purchasing through the links or banners above to US Bed Bugs, BugZip, etc. helps support the running of this site, at no additional cost to you.

Last updated 11/2012.

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1 Deb Lynn October 19, 2006 at 7:57 pm

cloth…http: //www.irvs. com/catreslt. php?CatNo= 10 This is a site for hard cased luggage….Hard cased luggage is making a comeback now…because of bedbugs…Hard cased luggage does not have zippers..and does not have “bug friendly” cloth …If you travel I highly suggest you throw away the black cloth luggage and buy a hard cased luggage in a color in which a bug is more easily detectable…and never leave your luggage open overnite in a hotel room…seal it shut…Deb

2 nobugsonme October 20, 2006 at 3:19 am

Thanks Deb! I have a link to some of those hard cases at Irv’s above.

3 mgdecombe November 4, 2006 at 10:15 pm

XL Ziplocs hang easily from the trouser hangers that have two clips. Whenever I can avoid using luggage, I’ll just bring a Ziploc and hang it, rather than using the luggage rack.

Great FAQ!

4 bugalina December 30, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Never store your luggage on the extra bed in the room, if there is one. Try and keep your closed suitcase on top of a desk or dresser which is away from the wall…It doesn’t hurt to bring a spray bottle of Bed Bug Terminator or BedLam or Kleenfree along with you and spray around the room…Someone suggested putting the luggage in the bathtub for the overnite…I think this actually is good advice.

5 nobugsonme January 30, 2007 at 10:08 pm

These comments were left by others
on the FAQs page:

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LTP
Jan 30th 2007 at 5:31 pm

I don’t have a problem (yet) but am getting scared reading all this stuff. I travel only a couple of times a year for vacations, but my husband travels more frequently for business, and I can’t trust him to do the necessary inspections and take precautions in every hotel room. If I even mention this subject, he is going to accuse me of being paranoid. Besides, if people can get bedbugs just from going to work, or going into someone’s house, or riding in a plane, etc., it sounds like we are all “doomed.” If I do regular inspections and cleaning of the beds and bedding (once a week?), is this sufficient to prevent an infestation from getting out of control?

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Bugalina // Jan 30th 2007 at 6:06 pm

Itp–please read our FAQs. Your husband should buy hardcased luggage–it is being made now esp. because of the bed bug epidemic..he should never put his clothes into the drawers of the hotels–he should do a thorough inspection of the room..and he should not leave his suitcase on the bed and hes should keep the suitcase closed at all times when he is not going into it, esp. at night–tell him my exterminator treated many people who brought them home after a business trip..Even the most seasoned people who are in the extermination business now do a thorough check of their rooms–also you should use the large ziplocks for his clothes..When he returns home from a trip you should spray Bed Bug Terminator all around the luggage and all clothing should be washed on hot temps. immediately–or bagged for drycleaning immediately–inspect everything..carefully–tell him that if you get them it will cost thousands to get rid of them–an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure–I would do my best to educate him. Bugalina

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ltp // Jan 30th 2007 at 6:22 pm (edit)

Thanks, Bugalina, I did read the FAQs and saw the recommendation to use hard-sided luggage; he’ll be thrilled with having to replace the soft-sided suitcases we spent hundreds of dollars on (yes, I see the need; convincing him is another story).

And I did see the warning about putting clothes into hotel room drawers. Is it also unsafe to hang them in the closets? What about coats, shoes, etc., that won’t fit into the luggage along with everything else (unless there’s a special suitcase just for them!) Or toiletry kits, which we usually keep in the bathroom? Books, magazines, and other items that we either bring along or purchase on the trip?

What do you do if you can’t do laundry immediately (e.g., when you arrive home late at night, which we usually do)? What about clothing that can’t tolerate washing and drying at high temperatures?
#

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S. // Jan 30th 2007 at 7:18 pm (edit)

LTP, if your clothing can’t be washed and dried on hot, you need to dryclean it.

I wouldn’t want you to be needlessly paranoid, but if you want to be intelligently preventative, clothing coming home from a business trip is probably the best place to start. Either a) put it directly into the washer, or b) put it into an XL ziploc.

The XL ziplocs are a bedbugger’s best friend because unlike garbage bags, they are both airtight and clear. If you keep an XL ziploc bag next to your hamper, dirty clothing can come right from the suitcase and be zipped up into it. Later, when it is convenient for you, you can either wash it, or take it to the drycleaners.

I am dealing with bedbugs right now, and we have two ziploc “hampers.” One is for washable, the other is for drycleanable. It’s obviously getting very expensive to dryclean everything after just one use, but we are right smack in the middle of an infestation and we feel this is the best plan of action for clothing.

But for you, I don’t think you need to bag all your clothing, or wash EVERYTHING right away. But post-hotel suitcase contents? Bagging before washing/drycleaning makes good sense. If something is in your pants pocket or shirt sleeve, you don’t want it journeying out into the rest of the house.

Also, it makes me sad that your husband would immediately assume you were being paranoid. But then again, sometimes we all freak out when we find possible things that could go wrong. Anything could go wrong at any time. But this is something that you can help prevent with a little awareness. You are just being aware.

(Paranoia is worrying about bedbugs so much that you never leave the house. Awareness is getting information so that you don’t put your suitcase on the hotel bed, and you know how to identify bedbugs right away in case you did get them).

I’ve dealt with my boyfriend/family/landlord all thinking I was paranoid, at least until they understood the scope of the problem. It feels bad when others don’t think you are credible.

Maybe instead of telling him stories of things you’ve read, you could refer him to this blog. Or better yet, to a “credible” source like the NY Times article (”Everything you ever wanted to know about bedbugs– there’s a link to it at the bottom of the Wikipedia entry on bedbugs).

But I’m glad to hear from people like you. The whole country needs to up its awareness. Thanks for being proactive, and keep asking questions! You’ll find this is a very supportive community.
#

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Bugalina // Jan 30th 2007 at 7:25 pm

If you think replacing your luggage is expensive, wait until you get the bill from the exterminator..I would be cautious about hanging them in the closet–I would put plastic bags over them when hanging –you can buy clear plastic lawn and leaf bags and bring them along with you..and double cover your hanging clothes with them–.you can spray some Bedlam or Bed Bug Terminator into the closet..( always inspect the closet ) around the corners–You can put your shoes into the large ziplock bags…and keep them in a small suitcase–Buy clear plastic zippered bags for your toiletries and keep them in the bathroom zipped. Buy disposal books and magazines–the less you bring home with you the better–the less you buy the better—rule number one with bed bugs is NO CLUTTER–If you pack all of your clothes into securely zipped plastic ziplocks–bring extras along for your soiled laundry–and when you get home..put all of the plastic bags from your suitcase, into doubled large contractor bags–and then place your empty suitcases into doubled large plastic contractor bags–secure them tightly with cable ties and either leave them outside or if this is not possible put them into a tub for the overnite..spray around them with Terminator or BedLam–then in the morning , while still in the tub–take the smaller ziplocked bags ( which should have been packed into catagories.)..launder whites, launder darks, etc..and wash accordingly immediately upon opening–throw the plastic bags away into a waiting large plastic bag–.as for the dry cleaning clothes–inspect them while in the tub or take them outside–as for traveling with delicate clothes that can’t be laundered on hot–I wouldn’t do it, travel with clothes that can handle hot water and/or a hot dryer¦..and before I book a hotel I would check it for reviews on trip advisor to see if they have had any bed bug complaints.Upon making my reservation I would tell the hotel that I am aware of the bed bug problem..I have done this myself¦tell them you want a room that is bed bug free¦This is extreme behavior¦but I am someone who got bed bugs from luggage¦so..I only wish I would have been able to do what I am telling you to do¦Bugalina

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6 nobugsonme January 30, 2007 at 10:09 pm

ltp– just to put things in perspective, we hear a lot of stories of people who are bit in hotels. Some of them get home and do not bring the bugs, and some of those do so without any precautions whatsoever. Needless to say, I am not recommending that, just trying to put things in perspective.

You should be aware of the problem and follow the precautions in the FAQs. But don’t panic: even in a hotel with active infestations, it is often the case that a few rooms are infested and most not. You need not feel like you can’t go into a hotel. A few hotels have a big bed bug problem and this will be reflected by multiple complaints from customers on sites like hotelchatter.com and tripadvisor.com, where customers can review their hotel stays.

The other thing I want to say is that I have heard hundreds and hundreds of stories of people with bed bugs– and some of those (in the minority, actually) from people who picked them up in their hotels. Of these, I don’t think I’ve heard one story from someone who knew how to look for bed bugs and did so, kept their stuff in ziplocs inside the suitcase, and carefully washed and dried clothes / inspected suitcase thoroughly, after coming home.

Personally, I would choose luggage that is light-colored, hard if possible, and as unfussy as possible, so it can be thoroughly searched. I would not, however, throw it away after every trip. (I would throw it away if I thought I had just encountered bed bugs, yes.) I would not personally carry a bed bug spray to a hotel–they are effective only on bugs you can see, and if you can see bugs, you should not be in that room.

I personally use travel space bags and will in future also use hanging space bags (for garment bags) when I travel, and these do zip and then vacuum seal. But I used travel space bags in my pre-bedbug days, because I like packing a lot into a small suitcase, instead of the same amount in a huge monster case. They really do compress things. I agree with S. about washing things when you get home.

So you should follow the precautions described in the FAQs (checking your hotel on tripadvisor.com as Bugalina suggests, to see if it has reviews that mention bed bug experiences, searching the bed before settling into the hotel, washing your stuff when you get home), but don’t panic!

7 ltp January 31, 2007 at 8:03 am

Everyone, thanks for all of the great info and reassurance. My next vacation is scheduled for April, so there is plenty of time to plan and to shop for new luggage and stuff (wasn’t sure what was meant by “travel space bags” but I Googled it and found them at the Container Store).
However, my husband has an overnight business trip next Monday, and although I might have a chance to run out and buy one small hard-sided suitcase for him to use, I think it will take longer than a few days to convince him of the seriousness of this problem.

What are the minimum precautions that I must get him to take? Inspecting the room (not that I expect him to know what to look for); using hard-sided luggage, keeping everything inside it, and keeping it on a luggage rack well away from the bed; and “quarantining” everything, followed by proper washing, when he gets home (I can take care of that). What else? There are some other things he will have with him, including his work laptop (in a cloth case), a cell phone that he will probably have to leave out for a while to charge, and a “white noise” machine that will be set up near the bed all night. (And don’t say he has to do without that last item; on his last trip I forgot to pack it for him and he gave me hell about it.)

I’m also wondering how reliable information from the hotel is likely to be. If you call and ask them if they’ve had problems, will they be honest with you? Is it advisable to ask to speak to a manager, since if you call you will probably get someone in the reservations department, and that person may not even be aware of problems there?

8 Bugalina January 31, 2007 at 9:53 am

It sounds like your’re married to my husband! He insists on the white noise machine…I give him the Hefty 2.5 gallon one zips and lots of the large ziplocks. I give him plenty of extras…I can’t control what he does in the room, although he , unlike your husband, has experienced the monsters, so he does take many precautions. Put every small electronic into its own ziplock. Tell him when he repacks to put everything into plastic bags and seal them as per instructions above. You can only do what you can do, but the biggest no no is to unpack his luggage on your bed at home., DON”T DO THAT ! That’s why I said to confine the luggage in a bathtub and take all bags out of the luggage…leaving the luggage itself into a double sealed plastic construction bags. When you are finished with all of the contents you can confront taking the luggage itself and very carefully inspecting it while in the tub…spray it first with BedLam or Terminator and you can get a small stiff brush and scrub around the seams to dislodge any eggs…vacuum it thoroughly and take two new plastic bags, clear lawn and leaf if possible, because it allows you to see inside and cable tie it securely and keep it storaged like that until its next use, preferably in a garage. As for the white noise machine…when my husband comes home, It take his small electronics and put them directly into my freezer, leave them there for two days and then take a can of compressed gas duster (from Staples) I take them outside and spray them in every possible screwhead and hole with the compressed gas. and then bring them inside, wipe them down and pray….again I remind you that I got bed bugs from luggage..and I have been on the blog since April and i would say that at least 40 percent of the people traced their bed bugs to a stay in a hotel or from traveling. Others buy used furniture and then the rest moved into or live in bldgs. with infestations. Of course no hotel management is going to admit to bed bugs, but, I mention it to let them know that I am an educated traveler and I think it might make them give me a room that has passed a recent inspection …its all russian roulette but anything you can do to reduce your odds , you should do…Bugalina

9 parakeets January 31, 2007 at 10:47 am

The hotel absolutely does not have to tell you about bedbugs, and almost certainly won’t tell you. Hotels are taught to “deflect and not disclose” as a way to deal with bedbug questions.

I’m beginning to think almost all hotels have had bedbugs, though not in all rooms. Your goal thus is to get into a room that doesn’t have a history of bedbugs. You can do two things: (1) Check in as early as possible. The rooms suspected of possibly having bedbugs are frequently known and rented out last. If you are a late-arrival, you might get the bedbug room if no other rooms are available. And (2) Let them know that you get a very serious “reaction” to insect bites (yes, like horror and rage!). You don’t have to mention bedbugs, just keep threatening them with possible reactions you might get if the room has an infestation “of any kind.” Scare them into giving you an insect-free room.

Another tip is to travel as lightly as possible. I don’t stay in hotels that much, but I pack my older underwear, socks, and t-shirts on such trips and then simply throw them away before I get home.

10 ltp January 31, 2007 at 10:52 am

I always do the packing and unpacking, whether it is a trip for both of us or just for him. Putting luggage on the bed has always been forbidden, just to keep the bed covering clean. So no issue there.

However, I don’t think he will let me put his cell phone, etc. into the freezer (doesn’t it damage the electronics?). He will need to take it to work the next day anyway, so it’s really not an option.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to as “plastic construction bags” — can you please clarify?

I’ve been researching some of the products mentioned in this blog and have seen recommendations to use Kleen Free instead of or in addition to (instructions vary) laundry detergent when washing clothes and linens. Does this have any benefit? For example, is it an option when washing clothes in warm rather than hot water? I don’t think there is a single thing I own that would not be shrunk three sizes, not to mention faded, by washing and drying them as hot as is recommended.

11 Bugalina January 31, 2007 at 11:43 am

The comment from Parakeets is very good…listen to what she says…I have put my cell phone into the freezer and it didn’t hurt it but I don’t have a fancy one..I have put the white noise machine in the freezer and it doesn’t hurt it…even overnite can be potentially helpful…in the very least inspect it thoroughly..They make large 3-4 mil ( this is the heavy weight) contractor bags..bags contractors use for cleaning up construction sites…they are large and heavy…but the clear lawn and leaf bags allow one to see if there is any activity inside…not 100 percent but seeing inside is better than not being able to..I have heard that Kleen Free’s enzymes have a killing effect when used for laudry but its only hearsay…I do not know for sure… I cannot help you about your finer clothes….only you can determine your priorities…I go along with Parakeets…less is better…and I would try to travel with things that can withstand a hot wash and dry…Have you read the FAQ’s on the Blog ?
Parakeets is giving excellent advice..you don’t have to say the word bed bugs, but you can say that you are extremely allergic to insect bites..and she is right about the check in time…Bugalina

12 ltp January 31, 2007 at 12:50 pm

These aren’t “fine” clothes, really, just plain cotton shirts and pants. For vacations I suppose I could just go to Target or K-mart and buy something cheap and disposable. But for my husband’s business trips, he needs to look presentable — not a suit-and-tie sort of thing, but at least nice dress shirts and pants, which can’t stand up to the hot wash and dry (and cost too much to throw away after each trip).

We’ve always tried to check in as close as possible to the earliest time allowed for that, just in case the room was unsatisfactory for any reason. My husband won’t always have that option, and sometimes he doesn’t get to choose the hotel where he stays.

Even after taking all of these precautions, if there are bugs in your room, doesn’t it seem likely that you will get dressed in your room, pick up a bug there just by sitting on the couch or something, and then take it into your car where it will travel home with you?

13 Bugalina January 31, 2007 at 1:44 pm

Who knows…its all russian roulette when it comes to bed bugs…as for your husbands clothes..have him bag them in plastic and then upon his arrival home take them all to the Dry cleaners asap. I have a good friend whose son went to UMASS…all 3 years he was there there were bed bugs in the dorms he was living in…he never transported them home …how lucky was she…..he never told her about them..but after my infestation he told his Mother about the bed bugs in his dorm…he’s a sloppy boy, like most, and could have easily transported them home…but it didn’t happen…the most important thing to do is to tell the desk clerk what Parakeets said about bug allergies…and to inspect the room upon entering…see FAQ above for links on how to inspect a hotel room for bed bugs…remain on high alert..Bugalina

14 ltp January 31, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Thanks again, Bugalina, I’m probably driving everyone crazy with all my questions (it’s something I do a lot), but hopefully other people will read this and find some questions that they may have had.

Should I assume that home dry-cleaning products (e.g., Dryel) are not effective and professional dry-cleaning is necessary? Is there a risk from taking clothing, with or without suspected bugs, to a dry cleaners or commercial laundry? From what I’ve seen, they just throw everything into a hamper and it may be several days before the clothes are cleaned. If I have clean clothes waiting to be picked up, could bugs from someone else’s dirty clothes get onto them?

Still another recommendation I’ve seen, steaming clothes or other items that can’t be washed. Any information on whether this works?

15 Bugalina January 31, 2007 at 2:31 pm

I can’t comment on Dryel..although I have thought about whether or not it would kill any bugs or eggs…I also have thought about “cross contamination” now that this bug epidemic seems to be getting worse and worse. I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing my clothes to a dry cleaners in neighborhoods that are heavily infested. But I am very very fearful now. As for commercial laundrymats..now must exercise caution..I think a good clothes steamer is probably a wise investment. There was a woman back in May whose home was infested and she used a clothing steamer on her clothes…she lived in a single family home and eventually defeated they bugs. So yes, I think a steamer is a good investment….Bugalina

16 nobugsonme January 31, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Bugalina, it is absolutely not true that 40% of people on this blog got bedbugs from travel.

Let’s see:

No: BuggedinBrooklyn? Parakeets? Me? Bugzinthehood?

Yes: you (but not via your own hotel visit–you suspect your traveler guest brought them in–a traveler, I note, who was apparently taking no bed bug precautions, not looking for them, or trying to prevent bringing them home, if found).

Possibly: Jess. But she really does not know and there are other possible causes.

I am not sure about S.’s original infestation or Bugglylicious, and I don’t want to leave any of our regulars out.

I emphasize emphatically that MOST of us did not get our bed bugs from hotels (and, I would add, NOT directly from used furniture). Most hotel rooms do not have infestations. The vast majority of hotel visitors are not bitten by bed bugs and even fewer bring them home.

I repeat: in the hundreds of bed bug stories I have heard, not one single person has said they checked for bed bugs, saw no bed bug signs, used basic precautions, checked their suitcases, felt no bites in the hotel, and nevertheless came home and infested their homes. In cases where people bring the bugs home, they were generally not looking for them, or if they did find them, did not know how to prevent bringing them home. If you see signs of bed bugs, or encounter bed bugs, you need to take different, more extreme steps.

If ltp wants to take extreme precautions, that’s fine, but I do not want readers to come to our site for balanced information and find hysteria. I am staying in a hotel next month. I chose the one that did not have bed bug reviews on tripadvisor.com, over the one the conference planners chose, which had 5 bed bug reviews (yowza!). I will visually inspect the room before settling in, and I won’t put my luggage on the bed. I will visually inspect on coming home.

This is all “awareness” as S. so wisely pointed out. I can see why those of us who have encountered bed bugs would be extra cautious. But by no means do I think that the general public should be panicking, throwing away suitcases after one use, traveling with pesticides in tow, or expecting every room to be infested. (Yes, if we do not halt the spread of bed bugs, this will one day be the case, but it is FAR from true now.)

I appreciate everyone’s participation, but as the editor of the site, I feel a responsibility to visitors that we are indeed balanced and not spreading hysteria. The truth is serious, but overreacting is possible, and does not help solve the problem. In fact, it detracts from the information we’re providing, and turns off some people who would otherwise follow our suggestions.

17 Bugalina January 31, 2007 at 3:54 pm

nbom..I said…the blog…meaning the first bedbugger…and I can site many people that got their bed bugs from traveling..and at least one of the people you mentioned…and maybe two..both told me that they may have gotten them from a hotel…if you note I said Since April…I meant the bedbugger blog…

18 Bugalina January 31, 2007 at 3:59 pm

nbom I never told anyone to throw their suitcases away…I said to quarantine them..please read my post more carefully…also I always prefice it my saying that I am “scared” of reinfestation I said to consider the source…also I think traveling with a bottle of Kleenfree or Bed Bug Terminator isn’t hysterical…I was given that advice from an exterminator…and from an entomoligist who works for a major extermination chain…please reread my post…Bugalina

19 nobugsonme January 31, 2007 at 4:01 pm

This is the blog. The yahoo group is a yahoo group, it is not a “blog” in any sense of the word, and calling it the blog confuses people. If I could do it over, I’d have chosen a completely distinct name for this blog, but once I realized that was a good idea, it was too late. The “About Bedbugger” linked at the top of our main page makes it clear this site is related to the Yahoo Bedbugger Group only in that some of us met there, and a few of the FAQs were composed by others from that group (as stated where relevant). Most people on this blog have never joined the Yahoo group of the same name. And I’d guess that most people on the yahoo group rarely read this.

I appreciate your perspective, and I encourage people to share their own experiences if I have mischaracterized them.

I see that you do not recommend throwing away suitcases, though I have seen others mention that idea on the yahoo group. I am glad you don’t agree. As far as the fact that your fears of reinfestation lead to more extreme precautions, that is not unreasonable. But this FAQ is not being read only by sufferers. Most readers of this FAQ are people who have never encountered bed bugs. We have a duty not to spread panic. So I do stand behind what I said otherwise.

20 freakin'out February 1, 2007 at 9:13 pm

I don’t feel like you guys are spreading panic, you are just telling it like it is. I would much rather go through a lot of trouble to prevent them coming in to my home, rather than the thousands of dollars in treatment when I get infested. That hotel room my husband stayed in last week where he got bitten and was able to catch 3 bugs is absolutely infested. We took extreme precautions when he came home. Yes, luggage in the garbage, down coat and goretex shell in the garbage (it’s not dry cleanable and can only be laundered in cool water.), many other things were thrown out. Why-the bugs were crawling up the walls from behind the wall to wall carpeting and out onto the floor. The manager of the hotel has since told us he had to discard the beds because the box springs were full of bedbugs. I have a brand new home, I’m not bringing them in here. We ruined my husband’s business casual clothes with hot water wash and dry-they all shrunk up. None of the dry cleaners I’ve talked to in my town would take any of his clothes for fear of contaminating another customer’s things. I felt obligated to tell them his belongings had been in a room infested with bedbugs. Extreme precautions-that’s me.

21 buggedinbrooklyn February 1, 2007 at 10:42 pm

freakin’out,
my hats off to ya for being so honest to the dry cleaners.

I wonder if you can get a buisness deduction on your tax return for the loss of clothes???

22 Buggylicious February 1, 2007 at 10:56 pm

Sorry all, I corrected my email address (forgot to put the underscore, if anyone tried to contact me…that’s why you didn’t get me, but it’s there now)…so… I think I got my bed-bugs from my ex boyfriend. He had them in an apartment building where he works in his own management office in upper Manhattan… he absolutely saw the infestation in a tenants’ apartment, and helped the tenant, was in the apartment physically, and the tenant probably in his office. Seems clear to me that shortly therafter we were being bitten! Smitten, and bitten I tell ya… but smitten no more. Still bitten though…just a laugh in this late time of night. Smile! I don’t tell anyone about the bugs. I get my clothes dry cleaned, AFTER I put them in the drier, if they can go in the drier. I get my shoes repaired AFTER I spray them with Steri-Fab. I go to my office, and put my coat on MY OWN CHAIR (not in the coat closet), and hope for the best. It’s not something I brand on my forehead, or wear like the scarlet letter. I just try and be thoughtful and careful without telling people. I just try to have a normal existance, have a laugh every now and then. BL

23 twodogsathome February 1, 2007 at 11:04 pm

I travel sometimes, maybe on a plane twice a year. My sister once had me totally paranoid a few years ago about head lice. We flew to Florida together and she put a paper towel on the head rest of the plane and fell asleep while in flight. The paper towel moved or something and she was flipping out. Imagine if I told her now about this blog and what people are saying? She would freak.

24 Buggylicious February 1, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Electronics in the Freezer: I just read some of the comments, and I feel compelled to say that if you DO put electronics in the freezer, put them in heavy guage plastic baggies first to keep the moisture out!

25 nobugsonme February 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm

freakin’ out,

This thread is for two kinds of people: those who were exposed to bed bugs in a hotel room (like your husband), and so should absolutely take extreme precautions, and also those who are simply travelers to hotels. Most people are in the latter category and should take reasonable precautions. It is those people (like ltp) that I do not think should panic. This is an important distinction.

I think the difference between panic and reasonable caution is this: if your husband was exposed to bed bugs for certain, then throwing stuff away (unwashable stuff, suitcase) is cautious, and reasonable .

Someone said on a thread a while back that they’d throw out a suitcase after being in a hotel without any evidence of being exposed to bed bugs. That’s panic.

(That person wasn’t Bugalina, as has been clarified, and the person in question now no longer feels that way, but I’ll leave it for her to tell another time.)

26 ltp February 2, 2007 at 12:32 pm

nobugsonme, I posted a question the other day (1/31/07 at 8:03 am) about what the minimum precautions should be. My list was as follows: inspecting the room; using hard-sided luggage, keeping everything inside it, and keeping it on a luggage rack well away from the bed; and “quarantining” everything, followed by proper washing, upon returning home. Does this pretty well sum it up, or am I missing anything?

Another question, if anything manages to make it into my house despite the precautions, how soon would the bugs make themselves known?

27 Bugalina February 2, 2007 at 1:25 pm

At the Bed Bug Symposium in Wash. last Oct. It was noted that bed bugs have been found underneath the fabric “strappings” that are found on luggage racks. So I would take time to inspect under them. This is why carrying a container of BedLam or Bed Bug Terminator comes in handy..one could spray it on and around the strapping on luggage rack. As for your second question, I think there are variables on that..Bugalina

28 nobugsonme February 2, 2007 at 1:34 pm

ltp– the point of the FAQ (the post above your comments) was to describe the precautions I’d recommend.

I think what you describe would be the minimum–with the exception that hard-sided, in my opinion, is not necessarily going to make a huge difference (some hard sided cases have zippers, for example, and the smallest nymphs can get through zippers), and if by quarantining, you include carefully and promptly inspecting carefully as you unpack.
I always use travel space bags and I think they do add some security.

As faw as the second question: that’s a problem: they might start biting right away. They might wait a week to feed, and so if there were few, this might be hard to notice. But I have read in reputable sources (one of the fact sheets we link to from a university, I would guess) that people can take 2-3 months to start reacting to the bites. Some people, of course, never react to the bites (and they believe they are not bitten, though the jury’s out on whether they aren’t bitten because they are less attractive hosts, or if they are bitten and don’t react to the bites). Anyway, worst case scenario, it could be several months before you discover your problem. It would still probably not be a huge infestation if only a bug or two came home, and a swift treatment plan might not be too difficult. But it’s hard to say.

As an aside, the worst worst-case scenario is actually a household where no one reacts to the bites. This is unlikely if you have multiple people in the home. However, when people report not knowing they had bed bugs until they saw them all over the walls, it’s not that they don’t mind the bites–these people usually are not aware of being bitten. You can imagine how this can cause the problem to spread, since an infestation has to get very bad before such a person would notice it.

It’s my understanding that men are less likely to react to bites than women (and in many couples where only one person thinks they’re being bitten, it’s the woman, though this is not always the case, and plenty of men suffer from bites too.)

29 buggedinbrooklyn February 2, 2007 at 3:49 pm

I’m a man, I get bites.
after seeing only two new bites yesterday, it seems I got a total of 6 new bites from that 5 min rest on my couch.
hmmm, I gues that’s why I was so tramatized from that night.

anyway, just wanted to say that I’m a man who suffers from getting bitten.

buggedinbrooklyn

30 ltp February 2, 2007 at 4:31 pm

nobugsonme, I understood the point of the FAQ. I was merely trying to verify that I had a correct understanding of the recommendations, condensed to as few words as possible, so I can communicate them to my husband prior to his business trip next week. The simpler the instructions, the more likely that he will follow them.

On the luggage issue, it seems that hard-sided suitcases may still have some advantages. My soft-sided luggage has lots of pockets and compartments, both inside and outside, where something could hide. Some types of hard-sided luggage have just a big, open, smooth space inside (and nothing on the exterior), which should make them easier to inspect.

31 Bugalina February 2, 2007 at 5:50 pm

ltp My hardcased luggage has no side compartments and no zippers..no seams or piping..I remember seeing hard cased luggage advertised on the web..that specifically mentioned bed bugs…..I think it was Japanese made..Also I bought a lite Burgundy color…so its easier to see anything on it..Is it my imagination or does it seem that luggage is being made now in lighter colors ?

32 Bugalina February 2, 2007 at 9:24 pm

below is the link I found describing the hard cased luggage “protecting your contents from everything from bellhops to bed bugs”…looks like good stuff….
http://www.hideostore.com/detail.php?category_id=5&item_id=2&size_id=104

33 nobugsonme February 3, 2007 at 12:16 am

Thanks for the link Bugalina! I am curious about that case, though: it isn’t clear from the photo/description if it has a zipper. Also, if not, what is used to seal it or how tightly. It is possible to make a seal with more of a vacuum seal, but in other cases, there’s still a point of entry. Beautiful case, but I am skeptical about the description: I’d like to know how it is protected. This could simply be a clever phrase “protects your things from everything from bellhops to bedbugs” does not really offer any information I can use. A lot of people claim their stuff is bed bug-proof (including sleep sacks and mosquito nets that we can see are not), so I want to know how. Pretty too, but expensive.

ltp– when I said hard cases would not necessarily help, I mean just that: it depends on the case and how you use it. It sounds like you’ve got good advice ready to go for your husband… and let us know if you think of anything else that would work!

Bugged–You’re one of the men I was referring to who do get bites. It’s more women than men. When we hear of a couple where one person is bitten, it’s usually the woman. But sometimes the other way round, and sometimes both.

34 Bugalina February 3, 2007 at 11:21 am

I have Samsonite hard cased luggage..there are no zippers, nor pipings , nor seams..I think with Bed Bugs there are No 100 percents..only a lessening of the odds…these suitcases definitely have less places for bed bugs to lay eggs/ and /or hide..the closings on them are sealed with plastic rims..no guarantees but Less hiding places , with more exposed viewing surfaces.

35 ltp February 3, 2007 at 11:22 am

Well, I brought up the subject with my husband this morning and got exactly the reaction I expected: yeah-whatever-eyes-rolling-in-exasperation. No, that won’t happen in the places we go to. Yes, I know what to look for. Right.

I guess it will take an infestation to convince him. It will be an expensive “I told you so.” I wonder which will happen first, that or the house burning down because he’s ignored my warnings for the last 10 years or so that our clothes dryer is not properly vented. At least if the latter happens, we’ll be covered by insurance.

36 Bugalina February 3, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Itp…All you can do is your best…be vigiliant..Hopefully it will never happen to you…I am dealing with a 19 yr.old college student..they are high on the list of “weak links”…and he is impossible…I take whatever precautions with his luggage that I can…by the way, you can take some inexpensive, proactive steps, on your own, in your home or apt, nothing drastic. That’s what the exterminators do. I asked them how they are not freaked out about always being exposed to bed bugs and they told me that they pre treat their homes. I am not recommending any serious extermination, just a few inexpensive things that might be helpful. Bugalina

37 nobugsonme February 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm

ltp–
This tends to be a typical reaction: most people aren’t worried until they encounter bed bugs (or know someone who does).
Maybe you could negotiate with him as far as what happens with his stuff when he comes home. It isn’t such a big deal if he sleeps in a room with bed bugs (if he really doesn’t believe they’re out there), but once he brings the bag home, maybe he’ll allow you to treat it as you like for 24 hours?

Bugalina,
The bag you have sounds promising. I hope anyone choosing a hard case suitcase for this purpose would check it carefully. My hard case has a zipper and I would not recommend it.

38 ltp February 3, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Bugalina, do you know the specific model of your luggage? Most of the Samsonite luggage I’ve found online is Silhouette (there is a new line out now, Silhouette 10, with closeout deals on Silhouette 9).

Also, can you point me to some information about the pretreament you referred to? (It might be somewhere on this site, but I’ve looked at so much info in the last week, I’m losing track of where everything is!)

nobugsonme, I can hold on to most of his stuff for as long as I want. For this trip he will be taking only a small duffel bag, along with his work laptop in a separate case. There are a few things that he will need the next morning, including his shaving kit (a leather zip bag), his laptop and cell phone, and his coat and shoes.

39 need-help May 7, 2007 at 11:36 am

Just a question to go along with hotel rooms. My husband and I are driving to a wedding in another state and will be using a hotel room for a few hours prior (to freshen up and get dressed) but we are leaving soon after the wedding to drive home. We will not actually be sleeping in the room during the darkness. Of course I will use precautions with our luggage but I was just curious if the BBs roam around alot in the broad daylight or do they usually wait till the lights are out (darkness)?

40 hopelessnomo May 9, 2007 at 2:52 pm

I’d say that bedbugs tend to hide until dark but we know that they do appear during the day under certain circumstances: the population is large, there are chemicals present which have caused them to move, the host is unavailable at night, etc.

You’re aware and will take precautions, you’ll be fine.

41 Debs May 17, 2007 at 10:28 pm

Hey,
Im currently travelling around the world and have been staying in (what we thought) was a wonderful apartment in Melbourne for two months. However, it is infested with Bed bugs and myslef and my boyfriend are getting eaten alive! The olny thing keeping us going is the fact we know we are moving on next week. The thing is im really worried we are going to carry the little critters with us to our next destination. We are going to do all the obvious and wash and dry all our clothes and sleep sheets etc, but we both have back packs and after reading the posts above about only taking hard luggage im abit worried. Does anyyone know a way to deal with this?? Ive heard that if we put them in a black bin liner and leave them out in the sun it will kill any bugs on there?? The tip about the zip lock bags is brilliant though, im definalty getting afew of those!! I just want to get away from the evil bugs and have a nights sleep where im not someones dinner!!!!!!! …….

42 nobugsonme May 17, 2007 at 11:51 pm

Hi Debs,
Two travelers in Argentina had a similar problem and no access to washing machines or dryers (which is even worse than just dealing with backpacks!) Anyway, the two relevant threads might help.
Click the “Forums” button or go to: bedbugger.com/forum/
Then scroll down to the search box and type in “backpacks” and click “search the Bedbugger forums.”
Heat needs to be at a core temperature of at least 120 F (some say 140 F) for more than four hours. It is possible that wrapped in a bag in the sun (sealed in a bag in a hot car might be even better if you can get ahold of one), but you should check the temperature. Alternatively, freezing for a week at well below 0 F should work, according to some accounts. But it really does need to be below 0 F, and I am not sure exactly how cold or how long. I’d do your best. Remember the other stuff needs to be dried on hot for more than an hour. You might try that with the backpacks–I can’t say they won’t be harmed, but you’d be surprised at what some people have gotten away with. Lots of people have dried soft luggage. It is not ideal, but your concern is justified–people have claimed to have moved bed bugs in the clothes they were wearing, in purses, etc.

43 willow-the-wisp May 18, 2007 at 12:59 am

Hi debs … if you can afford it can you buy new backbacks? I’ve thrown backbacks into driers and let them roll on high–if they have metal in them of course that’s probably not going to work. canvas bags dry pretty well–don’t forget to do your shoes!
good luck

44 nobugsonme May 18, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Debs
Also check out the post from today 5/18 that starts with “Dr. Michael Potter’s…”
for information on putting stuff out in the sun.

45 tonguesofflame May 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm

I keep seeing little notices in article after article (usually focussed on the hotel industry) blithely assuring everybody that, while bed bugs can be a nuisance, they are not generally believed to carry any diseases. WRONG! After reviewing some info. in past issues of Discover and other science/health publications, I went to emedicine, from Web.MD., and found that bedbugs transmit Chagas disease, which can be fatal, as well as being possible carriers of hepatitis B. Anyone care to comment on this disconnect?

46 hopelessnomo May 23, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Hi TOF, the reason is that experts disagree about what the evidence and studies show. There is always some public health official ready to say there is no evidence of transmission.

The articles I assume you are referring to are these:

3.28.07 eMedicine Bedbug Bites.

See also this and this.

47 hopelessnomo May 23, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Sorry, there is a reply above this one that will be rescued from spam later.

But one of the links doesn’t work. To get the Medscape article, either google “Bed Bugs Bounce Back – But Do They Transmit Disease?” or “bed bugs hepatitis vector”

48 jessinchicago May 23, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Got it, Nomo.

:)

49 Winston O. Buggy May 23, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Per the most recent info from CDC bed bugs do not transmit disease
and while chagas which is a blood borne diseases has been vector
linked to Reduviidae (assasin bugs)which while related to bed bugs
they are not bed bugs and are a different Genus and Species.
Be glad, aren’t bed bugs bad enough without spreading disease.
Some times I think people are disappointed that they are not worse.
I don’t really understand that except for their misguided perception
that it will get more attention. Any one heard of Lyme a tick borne
disease. And they still restrict control measures and materials.

50 hopelessnomo May 23, 2007 at 5:02 pm

I don’t really understand that except for their misguided perception that it will get more attention.

Well, let me respectfully explain.

I’m not qualified to say whether there is a tick-borne Lyme epidemic in this country comparable to the bedbug epidemic. What I do know is that the typical bedbug sufferer’s dismay and objection to the dismissal of bedbugs as a public health concern by public officials arises from the correct perception that such dismissal is the first obstacle to the development of comprehensive control and eradication policies. (This should need no further explanation, but I would be happy to elaborate if necessary. As a quick example, consider that no public health concern = no collection and tracking of infestations data.) Secondarily, such dismissal is an affront to the sufferer in that it is often used as a rhetorical device to invalidate the actual experience of having bedbugs. See, for example, Dr. Jerome Goddard’s “no big deal” pronouncement.

Classifying bedbugs as a public health concern would not necessarily change the status of prohibited pesticides, which would be an example of the control measures and materials you allude to, but it is a necessary first step.

51 Overbugged June 18, 2007 at 6:19 am

How about these additional “extreme” measures to consider:

– Throw away the clothes and shoes you traveled in before returning your home

– Throw away your luggage before entering your home (or .

– Bring lots of ziploc bags in larger sizes with you and immediately bag any souvenir items you purchase on your trip. That way you can safely bring them into your home. Maybe dust a little DE into the baggies before you leave, but be sure to do that safely, if you do.

Do the above by choosing cheapo and/or old clothes and footwear and luggage before you go on your trip.

Next: Have a set of clothes and shoes ready for you in a bag at your front door for when you return from your trip. When you get back home, open your front door a crack, grab the bag, then head for the nearest YMCA or gym/sports facility that has showers. Carefully discard your clothes (tied tightly in double garbage bags–you don’t want to risk infesting the facility!), take a hot shower (do NOT get tempted to use lice shampoo or any topical insecticde no matter how paranoid you may be feeling as they are quite toxic) and then get dressed in your clean 100% bug-free clothes.

Go home and rest easy.

As inconvenient and extreme as these proposals sound, look at it this way: you know that the BBs come home with travelers in their luggage and clothes and (gross!) sometimes presumably on their person. That’s the only way they can get in to your home.

It’s true that you won’t look terribly elegant with old or cheap luggage, and you won’t be able to bring your favorite clothes with you, but…

Throwing all your travel stuff away will still be MUCH MUCH CHEAPER than dealing with a bedbug infestation. And it won’t ruin your health due to overexposure for months on end to insecticides. And it won’t ruin your social life due to not being able to visit any of your friends and relatives nor have anyone over to your home. And you won’t have to worry about infesting your workplace, your car, etc. And you won’t have to throw away your bed, sofa, etc. And so on!

An alternative for the brave to throwing it all away would be to carefully and safely triple bag your travel stuff — before entering your home! — and put it all away in your basement for the next 2 years.

I bet most people will think these suggestions ridiculous, but for those of us who’ve been bedbugged one too many times, this might just be the way to travel stress-free next time… I know I personally can no longer face hotels. I just won’t. Puts a major cramp on my lifestyle as in my line of work I am expected to travelto conferences at least once a year. And I love to travel. One thing I now always try to do is try to find a person (friend, or friend of a friend) with whom to stay who lives in the city I’m going to. Though of course, eventually everyone will have bedbugs, and so that option (limited as it already is) will be out, too! (sorry for that last bit of cynicism!)

What do others think?

P.S. You could also opt to sleep in the tub at the hotels you stay at. Not that the BBs can’t detect your presence and hunt you down (that happened to me when I had BBs in my home in France: I fled to the tub for respite, and they found me there), but if you’re only staying a night or two, they may not realize you’re there. If you can tolerate a thin mattress, you could also travel with a roll-up foam mat, which is great because a) you could sleep on it in the tub and b) those mats afford very little in the way of hiding places for stowaway BBs.

Just some crazy ideas I thought I’d share!

52 nobugsonme June 18, 2007 at 11:37 am

Overbugged, this FAQ is not specifically for people who think they have encountered bed bugs in their hotel rooms, but simply for those who are trying to avoid them. If you find them, then i’d say pull out all the stops!

So I would not say your methods were too extreme for someone who had actually found they stayed in a room with bed bugs. If you encounter bed bugs in your room, then you want to be abslutely sure of not bringing them home. Throwing things away is indeed cheaper than an infestation.

However, for people just going to hotels, where the room is inspected and no bed bug signs are found, they may not need to throw away shoes, clothing and suitcases. If you have not encountered bed bugs on your trip, I do not think you need to do this. I always check my hotels on tripadvisor for bed bug reviews, then book, then inspect the room. Sure, you can have bed bugs and see no signs, but they are not in every room of every hotel. I have had a number of pleasant hotel stays recently, and while I inspected the room, and used ziplocs in my suitcase, I did not feel the rooms were infested.

What’s more, sometimes what you might consider extreme precautions can actually cause a problem. Let me give you an example from your suggestions: the YMCA. If you live in an area where bed bugs have taken hold (whether it’s NYC or Cincinnati or Vancouver), the YMCA, and other gyms in neighborhoods with lots of bed bugs are probably a likely point of infestation. If there’s no evidence you were exposed to bed bugs in the hotel, why go to the YMCA or gym and use a locker that itself might be infested? (If it makes you feel more confident, bag your clothes, rush into the shower at home, and dress there.)

Bed bugs do hitchhike, but taking some precautions (room inspection, stuff in bags) means they’re less likely to. To raise your confidence level, you might consider using some DE (food grade diatomaceous earth) in the cracks of your home, and encasing your bed carefully, so if you ever do bring one home, it has a hard time taking hold.

53 Overbugged June 18, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Hi Nobugsonme,

I didn’t want to make that first post too long, so here is a little more detail about my personal experience, which is why I have dreamed up those “extreme” precautions.

My husband and I had a major bedbug infestation a few years ago when we lived in France. During that ordeal, I became, by default, and like pretty much most people who get bedbugs, an unofficial “expert” on BB management , simply due to the massive amounts of research I needed to do to get us successfully through and out of the ordeal. In the end, even after pesticide treatment which we paid for, our flat was so badly infested (and it seemed the building was, too) that a) the flat was actually condemned by the city hygiene department (yay!) and b) we moved. We fled with about 5% of our (heavily treated) belongings. We lost the rest of our stuff (clothes, furniture, etc.), but had no regrets as we did not bring the bedbugs to our new place (which we had fumigated befoe moving in). Fortunately, our real home was in Canada, and our stay in France was temporary so the stuff we had with us was not our “real” possessions anyway. Lucky us!

With that ordeal behind us, we obviously hoped we wouldn’t have to encounter BBs again. And since then we have taken all reasonable precautions and then some. For example, when traveling, we try to stay at campsites or friends’ places. When a hotel stay is inevitable, I ALWAYS google the hotel+ bedbugs, and check travelers’ reports on trip advisor and other similar sites.

However, this March 2007, my husband had to go to NYC for a conference, and needed to stay in a hotel. The one he found that had a vacancy, proximity, and a rate he could afford was the Hotel Newton. It seemed like a nice, clean middle-priced hotel. (As everyone here knows, bedbugs don’t discriminate between cheap, middle and expensive hotels…)

So I researched it. Checked it out online relentlessly but no there were no travelers’ reports about bedbugs or any other kind of significant problem; in fact people described is as rather a gem, being clean and affordable.

So still agaisnt my better judgement (I just don’t want to take chances! bedbugs ordeals are just not worth it!) my husband goes to the Hotel Newton, and stays there 2-3 nights (can’t remember now). He placed his suitcase and belongings in the XL Ziploc bags that I gave him. However, the weather was very wet so he had to leave his shoes and suit jacket out to dry. The jacket he placed on a chair overnight.

He saw nary a sign of bedbugs inthe hotel room. He did the bedding and bed check.

Yet when he returned, he brought bedbugs home with him!

So this is why I personally now have a problem with assuming that “no evidence of bebdbugs in the hotel room” means no bedbugs…. Now this of course, is our experience, and hopefully not the norm, but now you can see where i’m coming from!

We started noticing our bites within a week. Like many people, though, we didn’t pay real attention until the 3rd week. We then had to finally banish our other hopeful theories about what was producing the itchy red bites all around our ankles and sides of our torsos… It so happened that we were a little lazy during that period in terms of our bedlinen changing and so our bedsheets had stayed on somewhat longer than they usually do. And when we checked for blood spots, we saw bloodspots galore! Absolutely no doubt about what was biting us.

The only place they could have come from was NYC’s Hotel Newton. Other than that there’s always a very remote chance that a person can pick up bedbugs on the airplane, but the standard source way still in this scenario is hotels.

I have left a report about this on Tripadvisor (so if you read of Hotel Newton bedbugs there–that’s me!).

So there you have it. In spite of all precautions, we got them again.

So that’s why, having been “twice bitten” as they say, I am most “shy” of any possible source of infestation!!

And we are still dealing with this infestation. Our home has been treated several times since March by the best PCO we could find in the small town we live in in Illinois. He is from TERMINIX and is doing the very best job he can; TERMINIX was the only firm whose staff has attended seminars and recent conferences on bedbug control. Our CPO is determined to help us get rid of them, so we’ve no complaints. And of course, we are following all possible precautions re clothes, etc.

The infestation is now at that stage where the new generation is coming out approx. once a month to feed on us.

Key to success–as reported on this website–is to use yourself as bait and have a varied arsenal of weapons to throw at them, and that’s what our PCO has been doing. Our PCO just treated the bedroom last week with a new cocktail that includes Nylar (egg development inhibitor) so our fingers ar etightly crossed.

**

Re the YMCA or sports faclity: of course you would not use the locker!!!

Gotta run now–I’m late for an appoitnment.

Cheers,
overbugged!

54 nobugsonme June 18, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Let me clarify my previous statement, Overbugged, I think staying in a NYC hotel especially warrants care. Since I live in NYC, I was not thinking of that, but I would be very wary of staying in a hotel here.

I think that people can also learn to carefully search luggage (and of course, bag everything else) on their return. If your luggage is not searchable, then you might want to replace it. Also, you might be able to put soft luggage in a dryer for 20 minutes.

I am not saying you should not follow all the precautions you mention, but we do each have to decide what we can live with. I also think that, sadly, bed bugs are easily picked up and you can get them in all kinds of ways besides staying in a hotel. Taking extreme precautions all day every day is too much for me. But yes, a NYC hotel does warrant extreme precautions.

I do think it’s true that your husband may have gotten bed bugs from the airplane, airport, car service, taxi, rental car, subway, or anything else he did on the trip, but I grant that the hotel is a prime suspect.

Anyway, I am doubly sorry you went through this twice! I hope it is gone soon. (Is your PCO coming every two weeks? Since the eggs actually hatch within 10-14 days, many PCOs now think this 2-week follow-up is key.)

55 Overbugged June 18, 2007 at 5:27 pm

Yes, we and our PCO have also recently come to the same conclusion about 2 week intervals.

And yes, as I mentioned from the get go, the “extreme proposals” I made are *definitely* only suggestions for those who really really don’t want to risk it at all. Not for everybody. Most people ought not to be as unfortunate as us!

The suggestion to put soft luggage in the dryer is excellent! You could do that with all your clothes too upon returning home from trips. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that — we of course routinely (during this infestation) put everything “dryerable” in the dryer on hot for a long long time (60 min. minimum, depending on the items). That would certainly be an alternative to throwing it all out!

Yes, it’s totally sad but true that bedbugs can be picked up in many public places… virtually anywhere that people sit down or even remain still for a while is technically possible… and documented, from cinemas to restaurants and beyond… And what I said in my post, btw, was that you could indeed get them onboard a plane, just that it is still currently far less likely a source than overnight accomodation. I’ve even read one man’s account of getting bedbugs from an airplane. Scary. I don’t really have any thoughts as to how to take precautions against that, other than to put your things in the dryer when you get home… or discard them.

***

I just wish some brilliant scientist would come up with some (safe!) pill we could take that would innocuously alter the taste of our blood so that bedbugs would find it unpalatable! I’ve heard of something like this being done in the context of plant chemistry where they changed something in the plant’s makeup which then made it repellent to its parasites. Maybe some day, that’ll be an option for fighting bedbugs… in a brave new world!

In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight everybody,

Overbugged!

56 CaliCal July 16, 2007 at 5:45 am

I always check trip advisor before booking a hotel. The hotel I got the bbs from didn’t have any bed bug reviews, so mine was the first. Interesting thing is that after I posted mine, someone else posted one. I think many people who DO react to bites just assume they were bitten by mosquitos or spiders, like I thought the first time around. Anyway, I also emailed the owner of the hotel to let him know about his problem so he could treat for the bbs. He emailed back, somewhat apologetic, but mostly told me how “disappointed” he was in my review on trip advisor! he was offended that I said I wouldn’t recommend his hotel to a friend. (By the way – he knew about the problem and didn’t deny it.) I was fair in my review, stating that besides the bed bugs, the place was charming and clean, but it’s not a risk I’m willing to take! He said he had several cancellations after I posted my review and was basically blaming me. He said because of me, I was going to shut down his little family-run hotel. Can you believe the nerve!?!? This guy doesn’t realize people aren’t canceling because of ME. They’re canceling reservations because of BED BUGS. He said “you’re taking away our business and sending people to other hotels that might possibly have bed bugs as well.” Yeah, but I’d rather take my chances at a “might possibly” than at a hotel I know has them for sure!!! UGH. Couldn’t believe this guy. He should be thanking his lucky stars I didn’t try to sue him!

57 Bugalina July 16, 2007 at 6:38 am

CaliCal…At any point in the conversation did he say he was going to exterminate??? Please do not feel any guilt in exposing him…Its people like him who don’t take bed bugs seriously who are contributing to the spread…I feel like emailing him and asking him what steps they are taking to exterminate..AND if he got cancellations..you should feel proud of yourself..you did a good deed…

58 nobugsonme July 16, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Cali,
When others threaten to sue, simply posting a negative tripadvisor review–which the managers are fully able to respond to on the site, by the way (tripadvisor allows that) is a kindness.
He’s a jerk.
I DO sympathise with hotel owners, just as I do with anyone else whose finances are messed up by bed bugs. But hotel owners have to get proactive.
The smart ones will consider regular inspections, maybe a contract with a bed bug dog to walk through (so they can display a certificate saying as much–which is not 100% guarantee they’ll ALWAYS be bed bug free, but if the dog walkthroughs and PCO inspections are regular, it would go a long way. Many customers would love to stay somewhere like that.

59 CaliCal July 17, 2007 at 7:39 am

I thought I was being nice by telling the hotel owner that I don’t blame him – that bed bugs can be brought into the hotel at any time by guests. But, he quoted me and then asked if I knew that, why I would post a negative review (and went on to say I was ruining his business.) Any rational person should understand – I’m just trying to help others, and if I’ve prevented one single person from bringing these pests into their home, I feel I’ve done my job! I didn’t ask the guy for anything. Not a refund, not compensation for treatment of my home, pain & suffering, etc. All I wanted to do was make sure he was aware of his problem. I’m not sure what steps he’s taken to rid his hotel of the bb’s. A new review on trip advisor says these people kept their reservation, and when they showed up, they asked. They were told “Yes, there was a problem, but it’s been taken care of.” (Not sure what that means, exactly.) They didn’t get any bites….that they know of.

60 nobugsonme July 17, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Well, we’re told many (some say most) do not react to bites. So they have have gotten them and not reacted.

But here’s the thing: a hotel can be infested in any number of rooms. It might be one, three, ten, or all, you just don’t know. If the other reviewers got another room, it may have been bed bug free.

Anyway, the hotelier is doubtless very stressed and panicking. You did the best you could, but don’t feel bad for warning others.

61 JBrown July 18, 2007 at 7:36 pm

could someone tell me what bed bug skins look like or better yet where to see a picture. also, my exterminator says that the black spots would not show up on sheets as the bugs dont go where they eat. i continue to get black ink spots on white sheets. i put a brand new white sheet on and the next day there were three obvious black spots in a cluster. This coupled with the fact that my last set of white sheets ended up with diffused black spots and some little red/rust spots makes me think i have bed bugs. i had them once before and may have come in contact with original source, although i am really not sure of this. i had several bites and showed four of them to dermatologist who confirmed that they were bites. he said that this being bite season, he didnt know if they were BB bites. he said look at sheets. that is when i found spots. then later i spoke to exterminator who said forget the spots, show me the bites- which were gone because some time had passed. i went crazy the last time. i feel like it is happening all over. it seems like unless i catch the bug, no one believes me. Last time they finally said i had BB, when one ended up in my cast. They took cast off arm and there was the bug. Help!

62 nobugsonme July 18, 2007 at 7:42 pm

That’s the second time in five minutes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bedbug1.JPG
(bed bug on left, cast skin on right)

People find lots of black specks on sheets, as well as on furniture, and even on their arms. Bed bugs poop everywhere.

Dermatologists often can’t recognize bed bug bites. The FAQs should help. good luck!

63 bugged out in PA July 27, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Hi,

I spent the last 3 weeks wondering what was up with the random marks on my arm. Then the large random welts. My arms, ankles, face, neck, etc. Went to the Dr. who mentioned bed bugs and asked if I traveled recently – I did, short trip to Boston last month. So I looked in my room, all over the bed, under, night tables, etc – not a one! Yet the bites got worse and worse and I got crazier by the bite trying to blame something, someone. I couldnt find one single bed bug in my room/home.

After going crazy thinking it was every random bug I saw outside, then to the point where I began to blame (in my insane head only!) my already weird neighbor … who I concluded must be a witch who put a hex on me. Yes, I realize how insane that sounds. The theory matched my state of mind.

So I had my boyfriend (who doesnt live with me) sleep in my room for 3 nights to see if it was bed bugs since I couldnt find any. Wouldnt you know he didnt get a single bite? That next night I slept in my bed (alone) and got the h*ll bit out of me! gah. I’m so mental at this point that I thought the bugs actually had emotions and were mad at me for not being in the bed so the assault on my right arm that night was their revenge. lol.

That’s when I got MAD. REALLY MAD. I went to town on the internet, gathering every piece of info I could get my hands on. I literally went into my room, took the bed apart, threw away everything under the bed (notice how you never really need anything you put under the bed?) vacuumed the hell out of my room and every crevice I could get to from the walls to the carpets to the furniture, threw away everything (including vacuum bag) in a nearby dumpster. Guess what? I FINALLY found a BIG bed bug a few hours later! I must have disturbed their rest…aww! (insert sarcasm font –>here)

And by big, I mean he was a nice, fat plump one … with a tummy full of MY blood. It took everything in me not to smash that SOB. However I trapped him on some sticky tape instead and made him suffer, his legs were flailing around (poor thing!), until the exterminator could identify it as a bed bug.

He came out the same day with a ton of BedLam, did a great job spraying it in every crack and crevice in my bedroom. I began to get worried they might be in my couch or my son’s room (which are on other stories of my house) — but upon serious inspection, the exterminator said “Nope. They must really love you” — not a single sign of them anywhere else in the house OR the suspect luggage. He told me that if they have a really reliable and regular host, they really dont need to bother to go anywhere else. grrr. He also mentioned it’s a mild case b/c there werent any droppings or stains anywhere — but I know mild cases can quickly turn into serious cases.

So now I’m at the stage of treatment, exterminator coming out once/week. As much as I HATE getting into bed each night, I know sleeping anywhere else in my house will make the lazy SOB’s come looking for me, further infesting my home, so I suck it up and sleep in my bed. I have noticed less bites since the exterminator came a few days ago, but I am aware this could be a long process.

So. I have a few questions since I am a BB newbie:

1) Any suggestions or experience you can share as to “how to survive/keep your sanity” during the treatment phase, physically and psychologically? (like, do I talk to the bugs and by telling myself I am befriending them I will sleep better despite the bites? lol). Seriously, the mental pressure of all this is worse than the physical.

2) Does ANYONE have or know of someone who has a success story of a mild case being treated timely, and the BB going away for good? (I’m looking for SOME hope anywhere I can get it!)

3) I went out and bought the vinyl/zipper bags for my mattress and spring mattress. I’m worried though that instead of just trapping what might have already been on the mattresses & keeping new one’s out, that they could find a crevice along the seems, or if there is a tiny rip somewhere — and that I might be actually making the matter worse by providing them another hiding place – inside the bag! Should I take them off & look inside – or get rid of them – ???

Any & All of your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
-bugged out in PA

64 Overbugged July 27, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Dear bugged out in PA

I’ve experienced bedbugs twice and I can totally relate to your concerns and anxieties and even the frieked-out supernatural and consipracy theories! You are so not alone!

With regard to the anxieties, I was actually lucky enough to have been prescribed a medication called Atarax which works wonders. I cannot say enough good things about it.

It’s actually an antihistamine which my doctor prescribed to help reduce the itchiness and inflammation of the bites. But happily, one unexpected side-effect of Atarax is that it really soothes anxiety as well.

And to top it all off, it acts as a sleeping aid if you have trouble falling asleep (I wonder why anyone dealing with bebugs might have *that* problem ;)).

And, I experienced no side effects whatsoever with it. If I took an atarax at night to get to sleep, the following morning, I was able to wake up no problem, and my brain was completely lucid (i.e., none of that brain fog you hear about being associated with many sleeping pills).

I normally do not touch prescription medicine (with the exception, say, of antibiotics if they are really really necessary). But this one, I consider a godsend during that difficult period while waiting for the infestation to die off.

Given how perfectly it addresses the bebdug sufferer’s issues, I wonder if its manufacturers will eventually clue in to this and market it specifically at that population! :)

Given my aversion to drugs, I ended up taking it only occasionally, when things got really difficult (like occasions when, knowing that if I got into bed I’d be totally unable to fall asleep knowing bedbugs were waiting for me to do just that; or, finally sinking into an exhausted slumber for 30 seconds only to awaken violently to look for the bedbugs I feared might be already crawling on me–I’m sure others can relate!) but even just having it on hand made me feel a little less hopeless during the ordeal…

As the pesticide treatment plan progresses, the bites will lessen and lessen until one day there are no more… you can hang in there until then.

One final word of advice–an appeal really–is TAKE CARE OF YOUR LIVER, AND YOUR ALL-AROUND HEALTH WHILE YOU ARE GOING THROUGH THIS.

Due to the introduction of pesticides in your environment, a bedbug ordeal puts a tremendous strain on your liver and your immune system, among other things. To make matters worse, smokers and drinkers are, understandably, going to smoke and drink a little (or a lot) more than usual during this time.

As well, all this anxiety and stress really hits the immune system hard, too.

Not to mention that pesticides increase cancer risk. Yikes.

And don’t believe the lies that the insecticides are “safe.” Alas, it just ain’t true (the exception being diatomaceous earth). Yet we bedbug sufferers simply have no choice but to bombard our living and sleeping environment with poison. Very dangerous.

So take all precautions you can to boost your liver health and general health during this time.

Basic protocol to follow–at the very minimum: LOTS & LOTS of Vit C daily, and liver support in the form of milkthistle or a multi-ingredient compound.

Hope this helps.

Overbugged

65 hopelessnomo July 27, 2007 at 8:10 pm

Hi bugged out in PA and Overbugged,

Thanks for the tips Overbugged. Bugged out has started a thread in the forums if anyone else wants to give advice or support.

66 vacationer September 2, 2007 at 3:15 am

Well, I’ve read enough. I’m not staying in motels any more. I’ll sleep in my car.
If I can’t do that, or camp, or stay at a friend’s, I won’t go. The kind of hotel I can afford is not the kind that would make any effective efforts to eliminate bedbugs, should they ever get them, which seems statistically inevitable given the number of people that pass through.
Count me out!

-v.

67 handcuffed September 9, 2007 at 2:12 am

I noticed bedbugs 0 picked up from a hotel before I knew anything about them – in January and have been fighting the problem ever since. It took until May to even get the landlady to send in an exterminator, while I kept them at bay with Diatomaceous Earth and by wrapping my futon in extra-strength plastic. In addition to having to take everything to the laundromat, the exterminators required that EVERYTHING in my 5-room apartment (except for the kitchen and bathroom), my 100s of books and Cds, VHS tapes, etc, be taken off shelves and out of drawers, even if there was no activity. My living room now looks like a huge garbage dump, I can’t find anything. When they finally came, they took about 40 minutes haphazardly spraying around the baseboards, moldings, the mattresses and the futon frame, a process which was repeated 3 weeks later. For 2 months we had peace, but now they are back, and seemingly coming from somewhere around my desk and computer equipment. I am not getting bitten in bed, but caught 3 craeling either on my desk or the carpet underneath in full light late in the evening. My bedroom is also my home office, full of furniture, an old carpet, lots of crevices in the everywhere. How am I EVER going to get rid of them?

68 nobugsonme September 9, 2007 at 2:43 am

handcuffed,

I assume you’re in a multi-unit building? If so, did the PCO carefully inspect every unit on top, under yours, and on every side? If activity ceased and then started again, there’s a good chance they are coming from your neighbors.

There’s also a chance they were reintroduced IF you kept your stuff sealed a while and then returned it after treatment.

You need the PCO to come back, and return at 10-14 day intervals until they’re gone. And you really need all neighbors inspected. Even if they do not KNOW they have bed bugs, they may have bed bugs.

69 handcuffed September 9, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Yes, I am in a multi-unit building, and the adjoining apartments were not inspected. I had left for 2 months in the summer, and everything is still bagged. My roommate was here though, unpacked some things. She is not getting bitten though in her room, she claims. I don’t quite trust her to really have thoroughly cleaned and inspected everything, washed everything. She is moving out October 1st. I keep imploring her to be thorough, so she doesn’t take the problem with her and spread it. Once she is gone I will have her room sprayed again, throw out the mattress (which is encased, but just to be sure), the dresser, probably should also polyurethane the wooden floor which is full if cracks? Besides the bugs I am left with a big financial problem – which roommate wants to move into a place which had bedbugs? I will leave most of my stuff sealed for at least the next year, so the problem will be very obvious. Moving stuff into storage presents a big problem as well, since I live in a 5th floor walk-up and there is lots of heavy stuff like books. Moving to another place is not really a possibility with the sky-high rents in NYC. All of this because a pretty nice hotel in Gaithersburg didn’t take care. After I was bitten there I washed everything before even returning home, sprayed the suitcase with insecticide, washed things again here, but obviously that wasn’t enough. We proably never had many, at the height of it maybe 5 bites a week, but even 1 bug is too many and I just want to be rid of this problem. My life has been an absolute nightmare since January.

70 handcuffed September 9, 2007 at 3:07 pm

And one more question, unrelated to the issue above – besides tripadviser and such, is there one site where people can report bedbug problems in hotels, with date, so one can instantly check whether a particular place is affected? I think this would be of tremendous value to the travlling community, and maybe even force hotel staffs to be more vigilant. How easily they can travel between rooms in vacuum cleaners, for instance. Are there products out there to prevent thaty, like pesticide treated cleaner bags?

Any pressure on priceline to make sure their accomodations pass inspection? I have a feeling that some of the “deals” you get there are because people are cancelling reservations in infected places and am very afraid to use their services now.

71 nobugsonme September 10, 2007 at 12:29 am

bedbugregistry.com takes reports of North American hotels and such.

I would not use priceline simply because I like to screen hotels on tripadvisor.com before booking.

No, nothing is being done, yet. We’re in early stages of seeing anyone who does not have (and has not had) bed bugs giving a hoot about them, but I do believe that is shifting.

Also, “inspection” isn’t going to offer any security where hotels are concerned, unless they are being inspected after each guest leaves, and probably using a bed bug dog in addition to a human. Humans trying to spot a small infestation is very difficult.

72 nobugsonme January 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

Updated with David Saunders’ idea.

73 buggy March 5, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Thank you for the excellent tips. I forwarded this page to my parents. They seem to think if a motel is “nice” or they “always stay there” that they don’t have to worry.

74 Mop April 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

My apartment had beg bugs last summer and I was a wreck. I became obsessed and would not even sit on a chair anywhere public. I felt like the victim of something horrible that no one can ever relate to, unless they experience a similar ordeal. The bugs did not come from a hotel, but from a neighbor in the building.

I eventually moved myself out, destroyed my clothes in hot wash, and threw away some things. It was just me, I did not bring any furniture since I was not the apartment owner to begin with.

I have since gone to 2 hotels since being bed bug free. The first was bad, it was summer and I was being bit by SOMETHING either in the room or outside and naturally, feared bed bugs. Nothing came home with me. Yes I did check the bedding, but the room was old and dark and hard to see so I still had worries.

The time after it was a very clean hotel. I felt safer than before, but still checked. I check the seams of the beds, the actual sheets, look around the drawers at little spaces. I don’t go crazy but I do look.

Now I am going to a hotel, my third since the bugs, and though it’s always on my mind I am NOT the crazy person I was after experiencing a bed bug problem. I will check the bedding, check cracks, check whatever I can but I realize now that excessive paranoia is pointless. If I see no evidence of bugs in my room, why am I going to destroy my clothing with heat when most of my stuff is cold wash only? Why am I going to purchase bug spray, hard luggage, clothes I can throw away?

This is excessive worry. I understand the paranoia, because I have been there and I know the mental and physical anguish, but I think it’s excessive, and paranoia completely. Don’t let them destroy you. Use common sense about the cleanliness of the room, and check. If nothing is found, just try to relax and enjoy your trip. I understand bed bug sufferers won’t be able to do this, but if you don’t suffer from this because you have had a previous proble, don’t get yourself all worked up.

75 nobugsonme April 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Mop,

Thanks for your comments!

Your experience is similar to my own. I have stayed in many hotels and searched the room and taken some precautions, but I still enjoy travel.

76 Jenna May 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm

We possibly encountered bed bugs at a resort, my husband did not beleive it and brought the luggage in. The children were waking up with bites so I isolated the beds, now we have no more bites in the morning but get bitten during the day or evening while laying on the carpet or sofa. The bites are sometimes so close together that they appear to be a spider bite, but I’m sure they are not since we’ve had several of these bites. Does this sound like bed bugs?

77 Tracy May 29, 2009 at 6:26 pm

we just arrived in a rental home total stay is for two weeks. I woke up with little red spots all over me. I went to the dr who said bed bugs were prevalent here. we still have a week to go. what do I do now to help prevent more bites or taking them home. I bought a sovenier shirt for my nephew. should I toss it?

78 nobugsonme May 31, 2009 at 1:03 am

HI Tracy,

I really hope this response reaches you in time to help.

To be on the safe side, everything you brought with you to the rental home should be treated to ensure bed bugs are not brought into your home. You should also take precautions to avoid infesting your car!

You will see several relevant FAQs in our travel section about how to avoid taking bed bugs home with you.

The general advice would be this:

Anything you remove from the rental home should be sealed in clear bags. Thick contractor garbage bags tied in an airtight manner, or XL ZIplocs if you have access to them, can be used.

Take all washable items home in sealed bags and either wash and then dry on hot (until bone dry). OR simply dry dry items on hot. That takes much less time, if items do not need washing. However, give some thought to thick items. Comforters, pillows, stuffed animals and the like provide a lot of insulation for any bed bugs or eggs secreted within. It is hard to know how long to heat them in a dryer. If you travel with these items potentially infested, to wash/treat at home, then they are sealed to prevent bed bugs getting in the car. Some people might use a Packtite (see below) or even discard such items to be safe.

Non-washable items are tricky. You can carefully inspect them visually, if you spend some time learning about bed bugs and their signs, but keep in mind, bed bugs hide easily. They can hide in a seam or crack the width of a credit card — so hiding in the seam of a suitcase or duffel is not a problem. Visual inspections are more reliable for items you can inspect thoroughly. You might want to inspect and/or treat at the other end, preferably before you take items inside (if you have a yard or other space outside).

It may be possible to run cloth suitcases, duffels, and such through a dryer on hot, but they should travel bagged to avoid infesting the car.

Some people use a Packtite to decontaminate entire suitcases of washables and non-washables and/or to treat non-washables (in batches). It costs about $295 but can be used to decontaminate most items (if they fit) and can be be re-used as a preventive after future trips. You basically put items inside, plug it in, and heat it just hot enough to bake bed bugs, but not hot enough to damage most items. Again, take extra precautions when heating thick items, which will take a long time. Use the temperature censor to monitor internal temps, preferably inside the thick item. (You can learn more about Packtite here.)

People who are leaving the house to get in a car or other vehicle should be wearing freshly laundered clothing (don’t dress and sit down or stand around). Even shoes should be run through the dryer if possible. Purses and other items are suspect.

The size and location of the infestation may have an impact on whether or how many of your items were infested. Be especially suspect of items stored near or on beds or sofas/upholstered chairs/other seating. Bed bugs can infest dressers, or crawl into bags left on the floor.

All of this may sound drastic, but it is well worth the effort not to take bed bugs home. Please come to the forums if you have more questions or need support!

79 jeremy July 9, 2009 at 9:40 pm

i travel prepared after getting bitten multiple times, once in nyc and again london. i pack a couple of large bugzip bags for my belongings, i take an allersac for sleeping and i carry a small container of food grade diatomaceous earth if i am staying more than one night. i sprinkle it around the bed feet and on the baseboards in back of the headboard. sounds paranoid but it only takes 15 minutes and makes me feel better.

80 arlanda August 19, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Anyone try this yet? Instead of sleeping on regular bed, use a standalone hammock with both ends of rope and shaft coated with sticky tapes (bed bug are unable to jump or fly). Do this over a period of several months to deprive them of their food source.

Report back if any of you are successful with this method or not.

81 nobugsonme August 20, 2009 at 1:10 am

jeremy,

BugZips may help protect your luggage in a hotel room.

However, I am not familiar with the allersac. I am not sure how this 100% cotton travel sheet “shields you from bed bugs” as the authors of this website claim: http://www.allersac.com/

I am not aware of any bedding which will prevent bed bugs from crawling inside and biting you. They can crawl inside a t-shirt, so why not inside a travel sheet-sac?

Also, food grade Diatomaceous Earth can be used to kill bed bugs. However, we’re told it takes them up to 10 days to die. It might be more useful to take precautions with your luggage and other items brought from your travels, and to carefully apply DE to crevices in your home, in case you ever bring one in (from anywhere — they can be found in your city or town too). If you do use DE, be sure and take the necessary safety precautions, and apply appropriately and sparingly for best results — our DE FAQ is a good place to start your research.

I also recommend everyone learns to search a hotel room for bed bugs, per the information in the post above. An ounce of inspection is worth a pound of cure!

82 nobugsonme August 20, 2009 at 1:16 am

arlanda,

You describe a way of “isolating” a hammock, much like other forms of bed isolation. (Techniques for “isolating” — or simply “protecting” — a regular bed can be found here.)

You may not realize this, but if bed bugs are deprived of the food source sleeping in a bed, they will move on to other areas of the home. You probably sit in a sofa, easy chair, or dining room or computer chair — bed bugs can crawl up on any of these surfaces and bite you. If you were to isolate every bed and chair in your home, bed bugs may attempt to crawl up your leg and bite you as you sit on the toilet, or stand in the kitchen. It would be hard to deprive them of all feeding opportunities.

The methods in this FAQ include ways to keep bed bugs from biting you while also catching samples of any that attempt to do so, with inexpensive ClimbUp Interceptor bed bug traps. This, along with bed bug treatment, will help you get rid of the problem and maintain your sanity.

83 jeremy September 3, 2009 at 10:17 am

My bedbug hotel protection comparo:

I have been bitten before so I know what it feels like.

I started a new job for a small hardware importer. i was paired up with a co worker to pitch a company in NYC. because we are small our budgets are small. we were booked into a mid level hotel in Brooklyn.

My co worker is a real mach kinda guy, beer and football, still whistles at women, very embarrassing to be around.
we shared a suite, he gave me the bed because of my age and bad back, he took the pull out. we arrived very late because of flight delays. after unpacking i start my bedbug routine, checking the mattress, headboard, laying down an allersac, spraying the perimeter of the bed area with eco bug spray , pulling the bed away from the headboard, and placing bedbug cups under the bed legs. i found a couple of spots on the mattress but no actual bedbugs so i figured the room had been treated and no bedbugs were present. he starts laughing, calling me “protectaboy”. ” are you afraid of a coupla bugs ” he taunts.

We try to get a some beer/ food but everything is closed so we raid the mini bar for a drink then hit the sack. at 4am i hear him swearing .

I get up and meet him in the bathroom, he’s scratching an wiping himself down with a towel and i can see bites all over his back and legs, even 2 bebugs still on his back, a couple on his cheek,they were small red marks. i couldn’t help but laugh, he was really freaking out, we both got dressed threw our stuff into our bags a went to the front desk. for the next hour he argued with the night manager who couldn’t place us in another room as the hotel was full.
The manager told us the whole hotel had been treated the previous month and there were no bedbugs there. “what do ya think these are” my partner is screaming and pointing to the ever growing welts on his cheek while threatening to undress to show her the rest of his bitten body.

By now it’s 6am, we have a meeting at 10am, we need to shower and shave so we leave most of our stuff at the front desk and go back to the room to shower.

By the time we leave the regular manager is on duty, he looks at my partner’s face and starts to apologize, credits my card for the night and tells us to contact the corporate office for further actions.

We make the meeting, make the sale ( even with my partner looking like he did ) and change our flight so we don’t have to stay another night
The whole way home i kept calling him “biteboy”, his face now had 3 large red marks which some kid on the plane kept staring at, hysterical really, as long as it wasn’t me.

Whether the allersac, bedbug cups, eco spray and pulling the bed away from the headboard worked, or they forgot to treat the pullout, i don’t know , but i won’t hesitate to do the same again.

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