There is nothing that ruins a vacation quite like discovering your hotel room is infested with insects. With a terrible bed bug infestation making headlines at the Astor Hotel in New York City, travelers everywhere are feeling concerned about avoiding an unpleasant experience with these annoying pests.
Since bed bugs do not carry diseases, they do not pose a serious threat to the people they bite. Still, they are incredibly annoying. The bites left behind are itchy and red and they are incredibly difficult to eradicate once they have made their home in a hotel room, apartment or house.
Bed bugs don’t discriminate. They make themselves comfortable in the cleanest, most expensive hotels just as easily as they can in a dive motel. Knowing what to look for and what precautions you can take is the only way to gain peace of mind when traveling from hotel to hotel. SheKnows spoke with Dr. Michael Manyak, who has specialized in expedition medicine for over 25 years. Dr. Manyak is also the author of Lizard Bites and Street Riots, a guide that provides the most pertinent health and security information travelers need to know before setting off for their next adventure. Here are the most important tips Dr. Manyak shared for hotel guests to check for bed bugs:
Use the luggage rack
Bed bugs can travel on luggage and other belongings and make their home at their next stop. Because of this, Dr. Manyak recommends using the luggage rack when you check into a hotel instead of leaving your bags on the floor or the bed. Putting distance between the bed bugs and your stuff is the best way to avoid bringing them into your home.
Know the signs
A bed bug infestation isn’t always easily detected or obvious, especially to travelers who have never experienced them before. When it comes to checking for signs of bed bugs, the first place to look is the mattress in your hotel room. Bed bugs leave behind small, red and brown spots on the mattress when they move around the bed.
Check their hiding spots
Bed bugs love to hide during the day, and are most comfortable in small, dark places. Check the folds of your mattress before settling into your hotel room, along with cracks in furniture or even the baseboards along the wall.
Learn to identify the bug
Even though many travelers notice the signs, like the red and brown spots left behind or bites on their body, before they notice the bugs themselves, it is helpful to know what you are looking for when you check into a hotel. The specific species found most often in hotels, because they prefer human blood, have bodies that are very small, flat and oval-shaped. Adult bed bugs are brown, but may have a reddish color if they have recently eaten. Bed bugs do have wings, but they never fully develop so these insects do not fly.
Know what to do if you find bed bugs in your hotel
If you are unfortunate enough to discover bed bugs in your hotel room, your best bet is to get out. You can ask the staff to move hotel rooms, but it may be best to leave the hotel altogether, according to Dr. Manyak. Make sure you carefully check your belongings for bed bugs so they don’t hitch a ride with you to your next location. If you really want to play it safe, wash your clothes in hot water and dry on hot heat to kill the bugs or any eggs they may have left behind.
While the hope is that you’d spot them before climbing into bed, if you wake up with small, red bites that itch, your hotel room may have bed bugs. If you are bitten by a bed bug, Dr. Manyak says there is no need to worry or rush to the doctor. Bed bug bites are not harmful to your health. Instead, he advises that you avoid scratching the bites since this could lead to a secondary bacterial infections.