We’ve said it before but it bears repeating – bed bugs are champion hitchhikers. It’s the single most common way bed bugs spread from place to place. Unsuspecting travelers often accidentally transport these pests from location to location in unchecked suitcases and packages. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling across country or across town.
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of year for travel, and there’s a good chance you’re either planning to visit friends and family or have friends and family coming to visit you. The fact of the matter is, if there are bed bugs anywhere along your route they could easily end up coming back home with you.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s talk about some simple travel tips that can help you avoid bringing any bed bugs home with you for the holidays.
Consider What to Bring with You
Bed bugs are preferential pests. They like to infest some spaces and items more than others. When searching for suitable spots to hide they gravitate towards dark confined spaces. They want warmth, moisture and, above all, safety.
When bed bugs hide in beds and bedding, for example, they use their flat bodies to squirm into the tight hidden recesses of the mattress and bed linen. They use the hook-like claws on their legs to cling onto sheets and blankets.
Before you leave for your holiday travels take some time to lay out everything you plan to take with you. Does any of it look like it would tempt a bed bug? Remember sheets, pillows, and towels are all attractive hiding spots for bed bugs. If you think some of the items might be especially attractive to a bed bug consider leaving it behind. After all, packing light for a trip is always good advice.
Inspect Everything Before You Pack
Naturally, there are going to be some things you’ll need to pack regardless of how tempting they may look to a lonely bed bug. Clothes, toiletries, and your actual luggage are must haves for any trip. So, before you pack up to leave take some time to inspect everything carefully.
Start with your luggage. Suitcases are prime hiding spots for bed bugs. They offer plenty of cracks and crannies for these pests to hide in, so you’ll want to look closely. Open up each piece of luggage and shake it out. Scrape out the nooks and crannies and look closely at the folds. Patience is key. Take your time.
Next, lay out everything you mean to pack. Inspect every item of clothing carefully. Shake them out and brush them down before packing them into your suitcases. You’ll want to repeat these steps when you pack to return home as well.
Rely on Good Anti-Bed Bug Practices
Wherever you go this holiday season, and whatever you choose to take with you, it’s important to rely on good anti-bed bug practices. These are simple common sense things you can do to protect yourself and your belongings from bed bugs when you travel.
First, pay attention to where you keep your luggage and other items. While inspecting your bags after bed bugs have squirmed their way in may flush them out, the best way to prevent an infestation is to stop those pests from getting into your stuff in the first place.
Keep your suitcases and carry-alls elevated and off the ground. This is especially important if your bags don’t close completely. Bed bugs may be good at hitchhiking but they’re not strong climbers. They are less likely to climb into luggage that is kept elevated than they are to crawl into bags that are left on the ground.
Second, keep loose clothes in airtight traveling bags. This will protect your clothes (clean and dirty) from any bed bugs looking for a handy hiding place.
Give ‘em the (Heat) Treatment
Bed bugs are always looking for warm cozy places to hide. Which is ironic in a way as heat is their worst enemy. Bed bugs can’t survive temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. High temperatures will even kill bed bug eggs. While industrial heat treatments are probably out of the question there is something simple you can do to help prevent holiday infestations.
When you arrive at your destination (or when you get home from your trip) pop any clothes or linens you have packed into the dryer. Run it on the highest setting for at least 20 to 30 minutes. This should kill any stray bed bugs (or bed bug eggs) you may have accidentally picked up during your travels. Of course, you should take care what you put in the dryer. You don’t want to put anything through the cycle that can’t take the heat.
If you’re traveling this holiday season follow these simple tips to help avoid picking up, and bringing home, and unwanted guests. The preventative measures you take now can help you avoid a bed bug infestation in the future.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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