The Worst Souvenir Ever: Finding Bed Bugs in Hotels

Every year, in New York City alone, there are over 10,000 reports of bed bugs in apartments, hotels, and public spaces.

That doesn’t even touch the number of encounters that don’t get reported. If you’re traveling anywhere in the world, finding bed bugs can be one of your worst nightmares.

While some people are more allergic to their bites than others, they can latch onto your luggage to hitch a ride either way.

Bringing them back home with you across planes or trains could also allow them to lay eggs on unsuspecting passengers’ luggage. You could have your vacation ruined while also spreading the misery to someone else.

If you’re worried about the prospect of bed bugs during your next vacation, there’s no need to fret. By following these 7 tips, you can avoid finding bed bugs in your next hotel or hostel stay.

1. Start Your Search To Begin Finding Bed Bugs

When you check in, tip the bellhop, smile, say thank you, and immediately toss your luggage into the bathtub. The one way you’ll end up with an untraceable case of bed bugs is if they check into the Hotel Samsonite. They can’t get a grip while in the bathtub, so that’s the place your luggage is safest from them.

They can’t hide out in many places in the bathroom either, so let that be the central headquarters of your search operation. If you find something, you can just grab your luggage out of the tub and hightail it out of there. You won’t have risked catching any hangers-on while you’re on your hunt.

2. Start Tearing the Place Apart

You can’t be shy about your search. Those little critters waiting for you sure won’t be shy. Pull the bed from the wall and start checking the headboard and any crevices where they might hide.

You want to look for actual bugs, little black streaks that indicate their waste, and even 1mm long white eggs they leave behind.

Pull off all of the covers and start looking around every edge of the boxspring and the mattress. For a platform bed, be sure to check to see if there are any bed bugs hiding under there. Finding bed bugs under your bed is all that you need to get your things and find another room or another hotel.

Be meticulous in your inspection. Look at the seams and edges of every mattress, box spring, or bed frame. These little corners are where bed bugs like to hide from anyone who might try to evict them.

The joints of your frame might not be easily visible to the naked eye. Bring a flashlight or use the flashlight feature on your phone to look around all the corners.

3. Your Sheets Tell Tales

Be sure to look at your sheets when you wake up in the morning. If you were bitten by the little bloodsuckers, you’ll have little dried blood spots that look like rust. While you might have no reaction at all, look for redness and swelling.

Some people don’t get itchy at all following a bug bite, so checking might not be the most reliable way to find bug bites.

Bed bugs will usually bite in a group of three bites. Look for three nearby bites to know if you might be finding bed bugs in your room. Fleas have a similar activity so don’t use this as your only evidence.

The presence of stains on your sheets is one of the strongest signs that you might be dealing with a bedbug infestation.

4. Plush Furniture Is A Great Habitat

If you’re staying in an Airbnb or a hotel, you might end up finding bed bugs in other furniture. Bed bugs have a misleading name because of the fact that they’re found in so many places.

Check any sofa cushions, the edges of furniture, and seams along any piece of fabric furniture. Look at pillows with a scrutinizing eye. The last thing you need to find on your vacation is an infestation of bed bugs on the couch you’re taking a midday nap on.

5. Even Closets And Floorboards

Bed bugs can be found in places other than soft fabric-covered areas. They can make their home in any crevice at all that gives them an advantage to biting on passers-by.

Bed bugs can hide in closets, which could lead you to have to pull out and boil or freeze your clothes.

Bed bugs love to hang out in the corners and seams of doors. They can make a home in floor molding or in the deepest corners of your closet.

Imagine any place you might find a spider web in a space. That’s where you could find a bed bug infestation if you look hard enough. Take your flashlight and scan carefully before you get too comfortable.

6. Underneath Your Summer Reading

You could even find bed bugs on or around a nightstand if you look enough. In hotels and hostels where sheets are often changed and cleaned, a nightstand is a great place for them to hide out safely.

Check any drawers for the presence of bed bugs. They could hide in the back of a drawer or above the edge of a drawer. Thankfully, they tend to leave all of that waste behind when they’ve been somewhere, so you can find them quickly.

7. Avoid Luggage Stands

If you want to avoid finding bed bugs in your own luggage, avoid random luggage racks. That’s where potentially the last guest could have imported their bed bugs from. They could have hung around waiting for the next trip out of town on your luggage.

Finding Bed Bugs Isn’t The End Of The World

While it can freak you out and cause stress, finding bed bugs in your hotel isn’t the end of the world. Call management and see if you can get a refund. In exchange for not immediately posting on Yelp, they might offer you a ride to a rival hotel. Take them up on this and check just as rigorously at the next place.

If you ended up bringing some home from your hotel, check out our perspective on dealing with bed bugs.

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Dave Galvagni