The Simple Trick For Keeping Bedbugs Out Of Your Luggage

Few things will hit the brakes on your trip like a bedbug infestation — more so now that they're on the rise across the U.S. And, whether you're backpacking or traveling for work, this seemingly small issue can instantly dampen your journey. After all, no one wants to find out they've been the main course of these blood-thirsty suckers overnight.

However, there are a few things you can do to prevent these pesky little creatures from camping out in your luggage. And, according to seasoned experts, keeping your suitcase in the bathroom could be your one-way ticket to peace of mind when you first set foot inside a new hotel room.

As unwelcomed travelers, bedbugs have perfected the art of stealth and resilience. Able to survive for up to a year without feeding, their favorite places to live are warm and cozy environments — like the fibers of your luggage and the crevices of a mattress or couch — which usually makes these places prime real estate locations for bedbugs. The bathroom, however, is a safe zone. Why? Well, it is typically bedbug-free due to its less-inhabited nature and lack of fabric surfaces. This generally means that bedbugs are unable to thrive there and would much rather move along quickly as they find somewhere else to feast.

Spotting bedbugs in your hotel room

Once you've checked in and safely stowed your suitcase inside the shower or tub, it's time to slip on your detective hat and start checking the room for these unwelcome intruders. Whatever you do, don't let the comfort of the room and the perfectly fluffed pillows lull you into complacency — proactivity is key when you're trying to avoid bedbug encounters.

First, start with a quick inspection to ensure that bedbugs aren't getting a free stay. Examine the bed, mattress, and pillows thoroughly before moving on to the headboard, and keep your eyes peeled for small brown spots — a clear sign of bedbug activity — as well as cast-off shells, which are remnants of their molting process. A great tip is to use your phone's flashlight to help illuminate the darker spaces and make it easier to spot the signs.

Then, shift your attention to other pieces of furniture like chairs, couches, nightstands, and luggage stands, where more bedbugs could be hiding after a previous guest's stay. Lastly, examine the curtains, carpets, wallpaper, and any other fabrics in the room as well. Dedicating a few minutes to making sure your room is bedbug-free will make the difference between a restful stay and an itchy situation you'd much rather avoid.

What to do if you find bedbugs

Let's say you've taken the time to check through the room, and — surprise! You find bedbugs in your hotel room. First, call the front desk, inform them immediately about the bedbugs in your room, and request a room change. Then, remove any clothing that might be contaminated and ask the staff to wash it separately on high heat, at a minimum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for an hour and a half. This should kill any stowaway bugs and eggs for good. Once inside your new and (hopefully) bedbug-free room, keep your belongings isolated, perform another check, and, if possible, seal your luggage in plastic bags when you're not using it.

Prevention is key once you're back home, especially knowing that bedbugs travel more than any frequent flyer out there. And with extermination costs sitting well over $3,000, it's better to be safe than sorry. Instead of taking your suitcase inside, drop everything — even your "clean clothes" — into the washing machine at high heat. Additionally, you can also vacuum your suitcase and leave it outside.

Still have a feeling they might have crawled their way into your home? At this point, your best bet is to call professional pest control. Although it might set you back a pretty penny, it's important to remember that bedbugs are tough as nails, so half measures won't suffice. Because let's face it: No one wants to take bedbugs home as unwanted souvenirs — let alone keep them.