Bed Bug Travel Tips
A reader sent in this question:
"My friend said he got bedbugs from ahotel. I go on a lot of trips for work, what can I do to keep from getting them when I'm staying somewhere."
If you're going on a trip, you are at risk of bringing back bed bugs with you on a trip of their own. Bed bugs are often transmitted when people go stay at a hotel (or at a friend's home) where there's an infestation. They can come back with you in your clothes or in your luggage (which is often near the bed, and looks to them like a great new hiding place). It's always a good idea to take some basic precautions against bringing any back with you.
The first thing you should do is go this web site: http://bedbugregistry.com/ It's a site that keeps track of all reported bed bug infestations in hotels around North America. Check your hotel before you stay, and you'll have a good idea whether they've recently had any problems. That's not a silver bullet, however - the guy who stayed in your hotel room just before you could have brought a few in, and all it takes is one to infest your own place.
A second precaution is to do a quick inspection around the bed. Check the mattress, especially in the seams or in the tags. Also check in the headboard and in any furniture near the bed (drawers in the nightstand, for example). These are common hiding places. You're looking either for the bugs themselves, for little red spots, or for brown pieces of the bugs (casings) that they shed off themselves.
You can also make your luggage a less savory target. Put it up on top of something, rather than on the floor. You can also get extra-large ziploc bags and keep your clothes in there - that makes it much less likely they'll find a place to hide.
Finally, do a quick inspection of your clothes in your luggage before you leave.
When you get home, take your luggage straight to the washing machine and run all your clothes through it (the heat and detergent will kill them off). If you actually found evidence of bed bugs during your stay, or find out the hotel had them, don't even bring your luggage in the house. Leave it in the car and get your clothes laundered or dry cleaned professionally, outside of your home. If your luggage isn't expensive, just throw it away - it's not worth it. If it is expensive, your best bet is either to try to find a professional who can handle it or to use bed bug sprays on it. Personally, I would contact exterminators and see if any of them can do anything about it. Many of them are frequently doing fumigations, and they might be able to do something about your luggage on those lines, too.
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