Bed Bug Awareness: A Checklist for Travelers Before, During, and After Trips

January 22, 2024
Natalie Thorburn

Travelers today face a myriad of challenges, but one that often goes unnoticed is the risk of bed bug infestations.

Photo by Craig Adderley:

These tiny pests have seen a resurgence in recent years, not just in homes but also in high-end hotels and other accommodation types.

About 20% of people globally have experienced bed bug infestations in various settings, including hotels. This resurgence can be attributed to factors like increased travel and the bugs' growing resistance to pesticides​​.

Before Your Trip

Researching Your Accommodation

  • Checking Reviews: Before booking your stay, it's prudent to read reviews of the accommodation for any mentions of bed bugs. Online platforms and travel forums are great places to find such information.
  • Bed Bug Registry Websites: Utilize online bed bug registries and databases that track reports of bed bugs in hotels and other lodgings.

Packing Tips

  • Protective Covers: Consider packing protective covers for your luggage to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride.
  • Sealable Plastic Bags: Bring sealable plastic bags for clothing and other items, as they can safeguard against bed bugs.

During Your Stay

Checking Your Room

  • Inspect the Bed: Carefully inspect the bed, especially the mattress seams, headboards, and bed frames for signs of bed bugs like small dark spots or live insects.
  • Examine Furniture: Check other furniture and areas near the bed, such as nightstands and sofas.

Preventive Measures

  • Elevate Luggage: Keep your luggage on a luggage rack or a hard surface, away from the bed or walls.
  • Avoid Clutter: Keep your belongings organized and off the floor to reduce hiding spots for bed bugs.

If You Find Bed Bugs

  • Notify Management: Immediately inform the hotel management and request a room change or consider finding another accommodation.
  • Isolate Belongings: Keep your belongings isolated to prevent the spread of bed bugs to your home.

After Your Trip

Post-Travel Precautions

  • Inspect Luggage: Before entering your home, inspect your luggage outdoors.
  • Wash Clothes Immediately: Wash all your travel clothes in hot water and dry them at a high temperature to kill any potential bed bugs.

Signs of Bed Bug Infestations at Home

Identifying a bed bug infestation in your home requires a keen eye and awareness of their common signs, otherwise you can really have health related problems. Here are detailed pointers to help you spot an infestation:

Look for Bites

Bed bug bites typically appear on skin that is exposed during sleep. They often occur in a line or small cluster.

Unlike mosquito bites that are randomly spaced, bed bug bites are more organized, often appearing in a zigzag pattern or a straight line.

These bites can cause red, itchy welts. The severity of the itchiness can vary from person to person, and some individuals may not react to the bites at all.

It’s important to note that bed bug bites resemble bites from other insects, so their presence alone is not a definitive sign of a bed bug infestation.

Inspect Bedding

Regularly check your bedding for any telltale signs of bed bugs. This includes the mattress, bed frame, and even box springs.

Look for tiny blood stains on sheets or pillowcases, which can occur when a bed bug is crushed after feeding.

Dark or rusty spots of bed bug excrement can also be found on sheets, mattresses, bedclothes, and walls.

Bed bugs also shed their skins, or exoskeletons, as they grow, so look for these translucent, empty shells.

Unpleasant Odors

A strong, musty odor can be a sign of a severe bed bug infestation. This scent is released from their scent glands.

Spotting Live Bed Bugs

Adult bed bugs are small, about the size of an apple seed, and have flat, oval-shaped bodies.

After feeding, they swell and turn a reddish color.

Juvenile bed bugs, or nymphs, are smaller and can be difficult to spot due to their size and paler color.

Other Signs

Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow in color, can be found in places where bed bugs hide.

You might also find fecal spots, which are small, dark, and look like marker dots, on bed frames, mattresses, and other furniture.

Check the seams of chairs and couches, drawer joints, electrical receptacles, and appliances for signs of bed bugs.

Preventive Measures at Home

  • Regular Cleaning: Frequent vacuuming can help remove bed bugs and their eggs. Pay special attention to carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and bed frames.
  • Clutter Reduction: Minimize clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
  • Encasements: Use protective covers on mattresses and box springs to encase any bed bugs and prevent them from feeding.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you spot multiple signs of an infestation, consider contacting a professional pest control service. They can provide a more thorough inspection and treatment options.

Bed bug infestations can be distressing, but early detection and prompt action can help manage and resolve the issue effectively. Regular inspections and cleanliness are key to preventing bed bugs from settling into your home.

Finding Top Rated Pest Control Companies

  • Online Resources: Utilize online directories and consumer review sites to find highly-rated pest control services near you.
  • Check Credentials: Ensure the pest control company is licensed and has good reviews or testimonials.
  • Recent Trends: Be aware of the latest bed bug treatment methods and technologies while choosing a pest control company.


Staying vigilant about bed bugs during travel is crucial. By taking preventive measures before, during, and after your trip, and knowing how to spot and respond to bed bug infestations, you can significantly reduce the risk of bringing these unwanted guests home.

In case of an infestation, seeking professional pest control services promptly is key. Bed bugs are a common problem and not necessarily a sign of uncleanliness, so staying informed and prepared is the best defense​​​​.


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