I recently came across an article given to me by my exterminator company. It was discussing BED BUGS! UGH! It went on to say that BED BUGS can hitch a ride on your luggage or bags during travel. They suggested emptying your suitcase in the garage when you got back home, then putting everything in the laundry and wash things on the HOT Cycle and drying in a HOT Dryer.
My first inkling was to toss the article away. But curiosity got to me so I decided to look up BED BUGS on the Internet. Here is what I discovered.
You should be an assertive detective. No, it doesn’t feel polite to go up to the desk and say you think your room might have bed bugs. But wouldn’t you rather do that than get bitten or, worse, bring them home? The bed bug situation, unfortunately, forces us to set squeamishness aside and talk about gross stuff. So, as soon as you get in your room (before opening your suitcase, even to take out your toothbrush!) inspect like crazy. Don’t just take the sheets off the bed, strip it down to the mattress. Look for the telltale black spots and darkish stains around the edges of the mattress.
You’re unlikely to see the bugs themselves, which are a clear color and tiny, the size of sesame seeds. But you can see their “leavings,” a disgusting combination of their shells and bits of blood from their human dinner. Check upholstered chairs, too. If you see anything at all, ask for another room, preferably on another floor. If you see anything suspicious in that room, try a completely different wing or, if possible, another hotel. This is really the primary bed bug prevention strategy available: check, look again, and leave if you see anything.
Travel Prepared. The last thing you want to do is arrive and start worrying about bed bugs. Take the worry out of travel by bringing protective supplies, including plastic bags to store your clothes in (those air-lock travel bags do double-duty by making extra room in your suitcase, as well as keeping bugs out.) Don’t be tempted to hang your clothes in hotel closets or leave them strewn over chairs, unless you’re 100-percent certain the room’s bug free; bed bugs are now known to favor upholstered furniture and yes, they can climb walls. Put your suitcase on a luggage rack and pull it out from the wall.
If you’re going to New York, Ohio, or anywhere else where bed bugs are known to be, well, practically everywhere, you can also bring a household remedy reputed to keep them at bay. (No guarantees here.) These include Vaseline, which some recommend using to coat the legs and rails of the bed so the bugs can’t climb up, and an herbal spray, Rest Easy, that promises to repel bed bugs. I travel with it and spray it around the edges of my suitcase and all over the luggage rack, just in case. Or you can take the extreme measure being recommended by some and bathe the bed rails, headboard, and the edges of the mattresses in a mixture of rubbing alcohol and floor cleaner. (Seriously, people recommend this but it smells so vile you’re probably better off staying home.) When I come home from a trip, I wash everything I’ve brought with me and dry it in a hot dryer and leave my suitcase stored in a plastic garbage bag for two weeks, also with “just in case” in mind.
There’s a lot more to say about bed bugs, but I’ve probably disgusted you enough for one day. Have you ever found bed bugs in your room or luggage? What did you do?
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