One of the more common ways people encounter bed bugs is when they’re staying in hotels or motels while on traveling on holiday or for work. Hotels, motels, and even high end resorts have long been hot spots for bed bug activity. Unsuspecting travelers often pick up stray bed bugs while passing through these locations, only to find themselves bringing those bed bugs home when they return from their travels.
Before we go any further it’s worth taking a moment to remind ourselves that bed bugs make no distinctions regarding the buildings they infest. Five-star resorts, high-priced national hotel chains, and budget roadside motels are all vulnerable to bed bug infestations. Price and exclusivity are not a factor. Wherever people go bed bugs will follow.
With summer holidays beginning to ramp up it seems like a good time to talk a little about how to protect yourself from bed bugs while traveling. More importantly, we want to talk about what you should do if you do find bed bugs in your hotel room.
Be On the Alert from the Start
Avoiding bed bugs begins with you. It is important to be alert to the possibility of bed bug infestations even before you check into your room. In fact, you should start thinking about it before you book your reservations.
The Bed Bug Registry is a national database that allows users to search for reports of bed bug activity at hotels, motels and resorts throughout the country. Simply enter the name of a hotel or motel and the registry will direct to the business’ known bed bug history. The tool is free to use and, while not totally foolproof, does help travelers to minimize the risk of booking into a hotel with a history of bed bug infestations.
Checking Out Your Rooms
When you first enter your room avoid setting your luggage down at the foot of the bed. Before you do anything else you want to put your suitcases in the bathtub. Bed bugs are less likely to be hiding in the bathroom and the tiling will make it easier to spot any that may be lurking around. Bed bugs also find it difficult to climb up the smooth sides of bathtubs. So that’s the safest place for your belongings at the moment.
Next, you want to examine the room for any signs of bed bug activity. Check the beds and bed linen, as well as any upholstered chairs. Be sure to also check along the baseboards, drapes, and in and around in cracks or crevices in the wall.
Take the time to make a thorough investigation. The time you take now will definitely pay off later.
What to Do If You Find Signs of Bed Bugs
If you find evidence of bed bugs in your room the first thing you should do is take out your phone and snap some pictures. These may come in handy later when you notify hotel staff and management about the situation. They may also be needed if you need to contact corporate headquarters to apply for a refund.
Next, let’s look at your luggage. If you’ve kept it in the bathtub you should be alright. However, if you haven’t taken that precaution you will want to examine your bags as well as your belongings. Be sure everything is clean and free of pests before you take any further measures like deciding where you’re going to be spending the night.
Changing Rooms vs Changing Hotels
If you’ve found bed bugs in your room you’ll want to contact the front desk immediately. Explain the situation and make it clear that you have no intention of spending the night in an infested room. In most cases management will offer to move you to another room in the hotel. In that case you will want to request a room as far away the infested room as possible. Rooms directly next to, or above and below, your room may be infested as well. You should also insist on inspecting the new room before you agree to accept being relocated.
If management fails to offer you a different room you should firmly demand a refund and make arrangements to move to a different hotel or motel. Don’t be timid. You’re only standing up for your rights as a paying customer.
If you decide to accept an offer of a new room in the same hotel request a supply of garbage bags from hotel management. On the off chance you have picked up a stray bed bug or two you will want to avoid taking them home with you.
To minimize your chances of bringing any bed bugs home with you you’ll want to wrap your luggage in plastic bags. When you return home open unpack your luggage carefully. If possible unpack and examine your belongings outside of your home. Don’t take anything inside unless you’re sure it’s free of any hitchhiking pests. Discard the plastic bags and thoroughly wash your laundry and luggage before putting them away.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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