The Ultimate Guide to Prevent Bed Bugs While Traveling

Traveling is a part of all of our lives, either daily, weekly, or yearly. People travel for many different reasons, including:

  1. Yearly Family Vacations
  2. Work Trips and Conferences
  3. Traveling Abroad for Education
  4. Employment

Unfortunately, traveling is a great way to bring  unwanted guests back home, namely, bed bugs. Unless we have had experience with bed bugs before, or know someone who has, it is not at all on our minds. For those of us who have been there, it is forever in the background….

Enjoy your vacation free of bed bugs! This guide provides you with simple tools and resources that can keep you safe from bringing anything unwanted home with you…

Download Printable Document Here, or by clicking on the picture below. 


Table of Contents

1. Planning Your Vacation

Your vacation is planned. Itinerary is set. Reservations are made. Let’s walk through what you can do to both enjoy your vacation, as well as be prepared for any bed bugs you may find. 

2. Enjoying Your Vacation

You have just finished the long car or plane ride. Exhausted, but excited for what is to come. Let’s walk through the hotel room inspection together. 

 3. After Your Vacation

 You have just came home from your wonderful vacation. Let’s walk through what precautions you should take as you unpack and settle into your home. 

Planning Your Vacation

The Behavior of Bed Bugs 

Bed Bugs love moving from place to place unnoticed. They will do anything they can to prevent you from seeing them! The way they travel to your home will be inside of your suitcases, luggage, jackets, and clothes.

Did You Know? Bed bugs can be anywhere from 1mm (the size of a penhead) to 7mm long (the size of an apple seed)

My Advice

1. Pack as Little as Necessary

– Share suitcases

– Only bring the clothes, toys, etc., that you absolutely need

– Bring backpacks and suitcases that can be easily inspected

2. Stay in a Reputable Hotel

– Use a website such as this bed bug reporting site to see any reported bed bug sightings on the hotel you are staying in. 

– Call the hotel, ask for management, and ask these questions:

1. Do you treat bed bugs in house, or hire a professional company? If in house, stay somewhere else

2. Which type of treatment do you use? Heat is the industry standard for hotel treatments, using an electric heater, while chemicals and fungicides are often used as a preventative. 

3. Do they have dog inspections and/or bed bug detection traps? The most proactive hotels will have a year dog inspection in place to find every bed bug in their hotel. 

Bringing the Correct Products for Bed Bug Safely

If you have had bed bugs before, then these products will be familiar to you. Here a few items you can bring with you to further protect bed bugs from getting into your belongings. 

1. Bed Bug Travel Spray

– There are many travel sized bed bug sprays that are used specifically when traveling. Many use safe ingredients such as essential oils used to help deter bed bugs from your belongings. 

– Note: While these sprays will be ineffective for killing bed bugs, they will suffice to deter them away. 

– Remember: bed bug products can be dangerous if not used properly. Always read the label and follow the instructions given. 

2. Suitcase Protectors

– There are zip-up bags specifically used for keeping bed bugs out of your belongings while traveling. You can use these suitcase protectors whenever suitcases or bags are not in use. 

– Industrial grade trash bags will probably work just as well if taken care of and can save you money. 

3. Biodegradable Trash Bags

– These can be found in many stores, such as Wal-Mart and Amazon, and are perfect to put your dirty clothes in during your vacation. 

– The purpose of these biodegradable trash bags is so your clothes can be put straight into the laundry when returning from your vacation, bag and all. 

Enjoying Your Vacation

 Inspecting Your Hotel Room

Before you settle into your hotel room, I would recommend a thorough, 15-30 minute inspection. Here is how you do it. 

Note: The basic idea of the inspection is to begin with the bed, and work your way out from there!

1. Before the Hotel Room Inspection, Leave Luggage Either:

– Inside of vehicle

– In the lobby / outside of hotel room

– Inside the hotel room bath tub

This will make sure your luggage is safe until the inspection is over. Remember, bed bugs invented the game hide and seek, and they win a lot! Give them the respect they deserve, and do not short yourself on a thorough inspection.

2. How to Inspect the Bed Properly

– Slowly remove bedding and pillows off the bed, and as you do, look for bed bugs trying to move to safety

– Bed bugs love the cracks and crevices of the beds and box springs, so make sure to use your flashlight and inspect around each one

– Lift the mattress off and place against the wall so the box spring can in inspected. Look for any small white oval-shaped eggs as well as blood stains

– Do not forget about the headboard! Look on both sides if applicable 

3. What to Inspect After the Bed

– Check underneath, on the sides, and above the nightstand. Lift up the night lamp and look underneath. Open the drawers

– Look in the cracks and underneath the chair. Open the recliner if applicable

– Check the trim around the hotel room, paying especially close attention to behind the bed

– Take down any pictures hanging and inspect behind them

Relax and take a deep breath, your inspection is finally over! You may now bring your belongings into the hotel room and get settled in. My recommendation would be to leave your items on a counter table, or in the bath tub for the duration of your stay. 

Note: If for any reason you are suspicious of bed bug activity, call and request a new room immediately!

Note: If you find bed bugs and choose a different hotel room, ask the property manager what rooms were last treated for bed bugs. You will want to be far away from those rooms

Note: As you enjoy your vacation, remember to use your spray, biodegradable trash bags, and suitcase protectors!

After Your Vacation

You have pulled into the driveway and are ready to go inside! Here is what should be inside your car:

1. All of your dirty clothes are in biodegradable trash bags

2. Your suitcases may still have clothes unworn

3. Electronics, toys, books, food, gifts, etc.

With that in mind, here is my advice for bringing everything inside free of bed bugs.

My Advice

 1. Every article of clothing needs to be ran through the dryer. Turn the setting to ‘High Heat’ and run for 90 minutes

2. Items that cannot be dried need to be visually and thoroughly inspected. Examples would be toys, electronics, shoes, purses. Each item can be wiped down with rubbing alcohol and a rag before bringing inside. 

3. Suitcases and backpacks should either

a. be ran through the dryer if applicable 

b. wiped down with rubbing alcohol

c. sprayed down with your traveling bed bug spray

Note: If you think your untreated luggage and belongings are safe in the garage, think again! Bed bugs can move up to 5 ft per minute. They can go from one side of the house to the other very quickly. 

Final Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to read through this guide. It is the same steps I take whenever I travel, and I feel comfortable and safe with them. It is what I recommend  to each of clients, especially to those who travel for a living. 

I find that bed bugs can be prevented as along as we are educated and know they are in many places we frequently visit. Nursing homes, family and friend’s homes, work, restaurants, movie theaters, and so on….

If you have comments or questions, email [email protected], or fill out a form on our website, and I would be happy to help in any way that I can.

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