We’re knee-deep in the dog days of summer, and most Kansas Citians are using this time when kids and teachers are on summer break to go on a much-needed vacation! One thing you don’t want to have to worry about, but should be conscious of, are bed bugs. They’re often named hitchhiker bugs because they get excited and want to latch on to join you on your travels. Bedbugs don’t discriminate, they can be found in 1-star hotels AND the cleanest, shiniest 5-star luxury hotels all over the world. They are also more prevalent in the summer. Let’s talk about how to avoid bed bugs when traveling.
We work very hard during our busiest season of the year (summer), so most of us take time off to travel during the slower and dreadfully cold Kansas City winter months. Here’s a photo of us on our last team vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico a few years ago. This was a few months before Covid cases started appearing in the city. We were lucky to sneak in one last trip before the craziness!
One of the biggest perks of working at Gunter is our annual vacation! Every five years, assuming we meet company goals, we go on a team trip together. The hotel may not have realized it, but they scored a free bed bug inspection! Over 25 rooms were inspected by our employees when we entered. We of course mean no disrespect to the hotel, it was an amazingly clean and beautiful all-inclusive resort! This is just something we do as people in the pest control industry every time we travel. You could say it’s one of our quirks.
3 Tips on how to avoid bed bugs when you travel
1. Inspect Your Hotel Room Or Vacation Rental Immediately Upon Entry
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – always inspect your hotel room or rental unit no matter how luxurious it is. A lot of hotels and Airbnbs use an outside cleaning service to tidy up. These services are great, but they’re not professionally trained to spot pest infestations. The best way to avoid bed bugs while traveling is to always conduct your own inspection and take necessary precautions to avoid picking up any unwanted hitchhikers. Accidents happen and it’s always better to be on the safe side.
Here are areas to inspect and tips to consider:
- Seal up your suitcase. This may seem extreme, but we recommend placing your suitcase in a plastic bag for your trip. We recommend ultra-large ziplock bags (usually used to seal and store bedding and other large items). Do this first, immediately upon entering the room, just in case any bedbugs are spotted. Although chances are very slim that you’ll spot bedbugs, it’s always better to better to be safe than sorry! The safest place to store your suitcase is in the middle of a tile floor – so the bathroom would be a good spot.
- Pack a small travel-sized flashlight to help look in dark areas like behind picture frames and behind the headboard. If your smartphone has a built-in flashlight, this should work well!
- Inspect dresser drawers in the dark areas where the dresser meets the wall.
- Pull back the sheets on the bed, and inspect the mattress – especially in the corners, the bed springs, and behind the headboard. Look for pepper-like stains and shed bed-bug skins.
- Use your flashlight to inspect for bed bugs in wall sockets, behind any baseboard openings, behind picture frames, etc. They’ll hide anywhere they can.
- Inspect chairs and couches and any other upholstered furniture. Look under cushions and in cracks.
- Bed bugs hide in areas closest to human environments to be near a food supply. Make sure to check your shoes before placing them back in your sealed luggage.
2. Inspect Your Clothes And Shoes
Another tip to help you avoid bed bugs while traveling is to inspect your clothing. Make sure to do this before returning to your hotel room or vacation rental. Also, carefully inspect all clothing and shoes before re-packing them in your sealed suitcase.
Bed bugs can be found on public transportation like subways, busses and trams, taxis, offices, and retail stores. They’re basically found in every place where humans gather. Of course, we aren’t saying this to freak you out, we just want to make sure you have all the facts and can squash the problem before it causes more serious issues.
3. Inspect Your Belongings Before Re-Entering Your Home
We recommend opening your bags in a garage area, front porch, or driveway before re-entering your home. If you can, throw your clothes in a hot water cycle right away. Bed bugs are VERY tricky to spot, and once your luggage and travel belongings have made it into your home, they may hitchhike somewhere secretive and cause big turmoil.