Many businesses require their employees engage in at least some travel as part of their job. A concern to many would be bringing bed bugs home following such a trip. Are there things you can do to reduce or even eliminate bed bug problems when traveling? Yes, and most are common sense solutions.

Going on the Offense

If you have a say in where you will be staying on a business trip – or if you are making plans for a trip with your family – you may be able to pinpoint accommodations that are better suited to your needs. Research the motel, hotel, inn or suite online. Many sites provide reviews from previous guests. This can help you learn if negative comments about bed bugs are common with the location you are considering. The consumer review sites that carry the best information will be third party sites that have nothing to gain or lose from allowing guests to post their comments uncensored.

Room Inspection

Bed bug bites can be a problem in guest accommodations simply because the tiny bugs are easily transported from one location to the next via luggage and they keep biting to supply food for their offspring that will, in turn, bite. When you check into your room you should inspect headboards, pictures and other hiding places to identify the evidence of bedbugs. Some guests will use a flashlight and magnifier to help locate signs indicating a presence of a bed bug infestation. Cornell University suggests, “The inspection should focus around the bed. Start with the headboard, which is usually held on the wall with brackets—lift up 1 – 2 inches, then lean the top away from the wall to gain access to the back. If you’re traveling alone, someone on staff should help. After checking the headboard, check sheets and pillows for blood spots. Next, pull back the sheets. Check the piping of the mattress and box spring. Finally, look in and under the drawer of the bedside table. If all these places are clear, enjoy the night.”

If you do find evidence of bed bugs you are within your rights as a guest to ask for and expect another room that passes a similar bed bug examination. In fact, motel staff members are generally willing to help you perform a bed bug inspection of your room to ensure your comfort and satisfaction.

Luggage and Bed Bugs

Cloth sided luggage is very popular with consumers, but hard sided suitcases are superior at keeping bed bugs out. You should not place your luggage on the floor or even on the bed. Your cases should be placed on luggage racks. You should check the racks from all angles to ensure no bed bugs are present. Do not leave your suitcases open after retrieving what you need. Your luggage may be the way bed bugs escape to repopulate other areas.

Did You Pack Correctly?

The contents of your luggage are often a great hiding place for bed bugs. The use of sealable plastic bags can help stop bed bugs from infiltrating your belongings. When you are finished with a piece of clothing this too should be placed in a sealed plastic bag. By taking these precautions you are better able to enjoy your night’s stay. You also ensure a contained environment for your personal belongings. Some travelers leave their luggage in their vehicle and only retrieve what they need – when they need it.

The Hotel’s Responsibility

Because bed bugs often travel into a motel from guest’s luggage it is important to recognize it is not the intent of the hotel to foster an atmosphere for bed bug acceptance. The bugs come in without the knowledge or consent of motel management. They want to get rid of bed bugs as much as you never want to see bed bugs. The problem is they are not always aware of infestations. You can pass along information to the front desk in a kind way that allows them to recognize where issues might be found. In many cases these gentle reminders result in professional extermination so future guests can avoid problems in the future. Most accommodations want your experience to be exemplary so they will do whatever they can to ensure your comfort. By taking you seriously they can avoid negative publicity and make it possible for you to feel comfortable coming back again.

When You Get Home

It has been suggested that washing your traveling clothes at a Laundromat may make the best sense for ensuring that any stray bed bugs are removed from your clothing before bringing those belongings back into your home. Even if you are used to washing your clothing in cold temperatures make sure the dryer heat will be high enough to kill any stragglers that might have made it through the rinse cycle.

Your luggage should also be treated just in case a bed bug infestation has occurred. You can use a product like Kleen-free to eliminate the existence of bed bugs in and on your luggage.

Be sure to dispose of the sealable bags used on your trip by depositing them in an outside trash receptacle. Do not throw them away indoors.

This series of prevention techniques may seem like overkill for a trip, but the alternative is a potential infestation in your home that is neither welcome not helpful. Bed bugs bites are irritating and frustrating. Taking the time to eradicate bed bugs from your home can be costly. By taking a few steps to ensure a better night’s sleep when you’re away from home you can be more confident engaging life once you return from your trip.

Trip Advisor recently posted a list of the Ten Dirtiest Hotels in the US:

(I’m really surprised that New York doesn’t have all ten)

1. Heritage Marina Hotel, San Francisco, California
2. Days Inn Eureka/Six Flags, Eureka, Missouri
3. Tropicana Resort Hotel, Virginia Beach, Virginia
4. Super 8 Virginia Beach/At the Ocean, Virginia Beach, Virginia
5. Quality Inn, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
6. New York Inn, New York City, New York
7. Parisian Hotel & Suites, Miami Beach, Florida
8. Capistrano Seaside Inn, Capistrano Beach, California
9. Desert Lodge, Palm Springs, California
10. Continental Oceanfront Hotel South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida