This Genius Packing Tip Can Help Prevent You From Bringing Home Bedbugs While Traveling

As a seasoned traveler, you've probably already chosen your suitcase essentials, such as packing cubes and a leak-proof toiletry bag. But if you want to avoid a bedbug infestation, make sure to add plastic bags to your list of must-haves. Bedbugs are nothing new, but as reported by BBC, the increase in post-pandemic travel, possibly combined with climate change, has triggered a spike in the pesky critters. Now, tourists are spotting bedbugs in travel hubs like Paris and London, from their hotel rooms to the city metro.

While no one wants to get bit on vacation, the biggest concern when it comes to bedbugs is the possibility of bringing them home with you. Thankfully, you can avert much of this risk by packing your items thoughtfully. In a viral tweet, podcast host Brittany Luse suggests keeping laundry in plastic bags until you get home. She explains in the post that she uses hotel laundry bags or plastic garbage bags to store any clothes worn during her trip that bedbugs might find attractive.

The tip gets a stamp of approval from experts: The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also recommends packing clothing in resealable plastic bags to prevent the spread of the creepy-crawlies while traveling.

Caring for clothing after your trip

The plastic bag hack prevents bedbug infestations in two ways. First, the bloodsuckers' favorite mode of transportation is fabric items, so storing garments — whether clean or dirty — in a sealed plastic bag keeps bugs out, giving them fewer places to hide in your luggage. The other reason why it's a good idea to keep clothes wrapped in plastic is because it might help contain and kill any bedbugs you pick up while sightseeing. The United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests placing infested items in a sealed plastic bag so they can be treated separately from other items. For clothes that can't be treated, leave them in the bag for a full year to ensure the bugs have been suffocated.

So, what's the best way to treat and care for clothes after traveling? Heat is one of the most reliable methods for preventing the spread of bedbugs. If you packed your garments in black plastic bags, leaving them in a hot, sunny car could be enough to kill any bugs crawling around inside. However, a better option is to wash and dry the items using a high-temperature setting.

Finally, remember that clothing isn't the only place bedbugs like to hide — soft fabric luggage can be attractive to the critters, too. To further protect yourself, only use hardside luggage when packing your travel necessities.