Be sure to inspect for bedbugs when you arrive to a hotel. Photo: J Shim 

If you’ve ever experienced bedbugs, as I unfortunately have, you know that they’re not only difficult and costly to eradicate, but can cause great discomfort — both physically and mentally. Bedbug infestations often peak in the summer, coinciding with the rise in travel. Here are some tips to avoid bringing home unwanted souvenirs:

Know what they look like. Learn to recognize bed bugs in all their life stages (eggs, newly hatched, and adult) and by their markings (blood stains, shed skins and droppings). The EPA has great resources.

Inspect your lodging. Bed Bugs don’t discriminate between five-star hotels and inexpensive Airbnbs. Examine beds and box springs by pulling up the sheets at the corners and sides. Check mattress tufts and seams for bed bugs and their markings. Check behind headboards and open the drawers of the nightstands and look inside. If you do find signs of bedbugs, demand another room or find new accommodations. Take photos as evidence in case you need to file a claim.

Keep your luggage safe. Store it off the floor on a dresser, or better yet, a luggage rack; bed bugs can’t climb up metal easily. If your trip is short, consider leaving your clothing inside your suitcase, and keep it closed when not in use. 

Post-trip. When unpacking, shake out clothing in a bathtub or shower and examine your luggage carefully, checking the seams, pockets and straps. If you suspect you have bed bugs, wash your clothing in hot water and dry it on the highest heat setting.

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