It can happen to anyone at any time – sudden, red, itchy, and painful red spots suddenly pop up all over your body – bed bugs bites! What are the chances of bringing bedbugs home from hotel or resort vacations? How do you spot them? And what do you do when you discover your home is now infested?
Grab your travel bug spray and pack your bags!
How likely are you to get bed bugs from a hotel?
Unfortunately, the chances of bringing bed bugs home from hotel and resort vacations are pretty high. Bed bugs love both five-star resorts and low-rent motels, and everything in between. They will latch onto anything and everything they can during their hitchhiking around the world.
How easily do bed bugs transfer?
Bed bugs are very invasive. They can be living in hotels, summer rentals, condos, cruises – if there is any guest turnover, bed bugs can be found.
The insects will show up at any time of the year, but peak travel times (such as Winter break, Summer break, and even Spring break) are when they found the most.
They are so many that 74% of pest-control pros say they’ve seen bed bugs at motels and hotels within the year!
What to do about bed bugs in hotel rooms
Before you get settled into your hotel room, it’s important to do a full inspection. (See our section below for an in-depth inspection checklist!)
If you think you’ve found one, you should immediately put it in a plastic bag or a clear glass from the room. It’s important that you put this to the side, to prove the insects were in your room.
Next, take photos. Get some up-close shots, and also a few bit further away.
If you have been bitten, take pictures of the streaks or welts. You may need to visit the hospital or urgent care in severe cases – keep those records and bring them with you.
Bring the evidence you have collected to the hotel’s front desk, property management, or the host of your rental. Do not leave your belongings in the room. In some cases, you will need to alert the local health department.
How to know if you brought bed bugs home
Bed bugs are pretty easy to kill, so if you think you’ve brought the invasive little insects home, don’t panic. Take some precautions, such as cleaning all of your belongings that traveled with you.
If you still have concerns, contact a professional pest inspection company.
What do bedbugs look like?
Initially, bed bugs might look like small, dark stains in the folds and seams of furniture and mattresses.
When they have infested to a large degree, then you may even see pearly white eggs or castaway shells.
Adult, fully-grown bed bugs measure about ¼ inch in length. They will have a reddish-brown coloring. If you see a bug flying or jumping, that is not a bed bug – bed bugs only crawl. The EPA notes that bed bugs look similar to an apple seed and have six legs.
Baby and young bed bugs may be an off-white or creamy color.
Other signs of an infestation include dark but tiny bloodstains, insect shells or skins, and small droppings.
How do you know if you have been bitten by bedbugs?
The signs of being bitten by a bed bug will vary from person to person, but most people will see similar symptoms.
Many travelers report that small bites all over their body – especially on arms and feet – were the first signs to pop up. Often, the bites will be found in small clusters. Normally, they will show up on skin that was exposed to the bed while you slept.
Next, you may notice small, dark spots on your sheets depending on where they bite you. Since they are caused by blood, they may not be regular in shape.
It is possible that you will see the shells of the bugs in your bed from where you crushed them while sleeping.
While some people only develop small red bumps, most people will experience minor swelling and irritation around the spots.
People who are hypersensitive to the bites will develop welts and large red streaks.
Other symptoms include:
- Localized burning around the bumps
- Itchy bumps with clear centers
- Bumps or welts arranged in a zigzag
- Small scabs or even blood splotches
How do I avoid bringing bed bugs home from a hotel?
One of the best ways to ensure you do not tempt the bedbugs to get into your belongings is to put your used clothing into a plastic bag that can be sealed once you are finished with them. Humans naturally produce oil that moves from our skin onto the clothes we wear – and bed bugs love the smell.
If you are concerned about transferring bed bugs from a hotel to your home, make sure that anything you took with you on vacation does not enter your home. Unpack suitcases outside or in your garage. Immediately put any clothing and other items that can be washed by the washing machine into the wash. Vacuum your suitcase, and dispose of the contents in a sealable bag.
Any shoes that cannot be put through the wash should be inspected and thoroughly cleaned before being put away.
Bedbug travel spray options
It might not be the first item on your packing list, but bed bug spray shouldn’t be the last.
No matter if you’re staying at a cute rental, AirBnB, luxury resort, or cheap hotel, bed bug spray can make a big difference when protecting your family.
Spray your luggage before you pack and again before you unpack once you get to the room. After you’ve inspected your room, spray down the mattress, headboard, and luggage rack.
How to inspect for bedbugs in a hotel room
Your room inspection should begin as soon as you enter.
Do not leave soft clothing or suitcases on the bed or a surface that has a cloth covering. Place your belongings on a table or in the bathroom.
Next, pull out a small flashlight, or turn on the flashlight feature on your smartphone.
The first place you inspect should be the bed – this is the most likely place for bedbugs to hide in a hotel room. Spots to examine around the bed include:
- Under the comforter
- In-between or under the sheets
- Under the mattress protector/pad
- At the corners and/or seams of the mattress
- Between the mattress and box spring or box frame
- Within the seams of the pillows
- Under the bed skirt
- Where the mattress and headboard meet
Once you have checked the bed, it’s time to move on to the valet or luggage rack area. Look carefully, and pay extra attention to the nooks and crannies.
Before you complete your inspection, make sure to look at all of the furniture in your hotel room. Pay special attention to the cushion, especially at the seams and folds.
If you are willing to conduct a more in-depth inspection, you should also inspect:
- Between the headboard and wall
- The sides, back, and inside the drawers of nightstands and tables next to the bed
- Behind any pictures or photos that are framed on the wall
- Behind any posted placards
How to get rid of bedbugs
When bedbugs have taken over your home, an important thing to know is that they are very hard to get rid of. Bed bugs breed quickly and hide in hard-to-spot places.
There is no quick-fix to get rid of bed bugs – but you are not alone.
The DIY method
Treating bed bugs is complex but not impossible to do yourself.
To begin, take stock of where you’re at now. Think about:
- How many bugs are in my home right now?
- How many rooms are infected?
- Is there clutter and hiding places for them?
- Did they come from my neighbors or me?
- Will my neighbors or landlords participate and share the costs of removal?
It can take weeks – sometimes even months! – to remove a bed bug infestation.
Once you’re ready, you will need to:
- Find out the type of bug and extent.
- Create a strategy to tackle the problem
- Isolate and contain the infestation
- Kill the bugs
- Prevent them from coming back
There will be different methods you can use, depending on your location. Some areas have laws that restrict what chemicals you can use to kill bed bugs.
You can attempt a heat treatment, which may involve something as simple as a clothes dryer to high-end heat chambers.
Cold treatments are also useful, but steam cleaners are often the most practical DIY method.
Depending on the laws of your locale, you may be able to use pesticides that were made for bedbugs to kill the insects.
Bug bombs such as foggers should be used with care, as they often easily catch fire. Also, some are not designed to kill bed bugs.
Desiccants are chemicals that create sudden dry environments, which are very effective at killing bed bugs.
Hire a Professional
The most effective method to completely wipe out bedbugs is to hire a pest control professional.
Get them involved as soon as possible to assess the situation and contain the infestation.
Be prepared for the cost and time commitment – often, the company will need to return to your home many times to wipe out the bugs completely.