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Tips to Spot and Stay Safe from Bed Bugs When Backpacking

Whether you are a jet setter living in and out of a suitcase or a savvy globe trotter with an undying wanderlust, one thing is certain – you are going to stay at many difference places! While the prospect is definitely exciting, it comes with the risk of bed bugs and encountering them can be a nightmare. So, it is important that you know everything about bed bugs and how do bed bugs bite before you wake up one morning with tracks of red bites all over your body.

What are Bed Bugs and How to Spot Them?

Bed bugs are parasites that primarily reside in beds, books, carpets and furniture and live off human or animal blood. A common misconception surrounding bed bugs is that they are only found in unhygienic hotels and hostels but the fact is; they do not discriminate between budget properties and luxury hotels. They can easily survive in hot and cold temperatures, go without food for an entire year and secrete a pheromone that attracts more bed bugs. And that’s not all – you can find them everywhere, from homes to office buildings to movie halls.

Adult bugs are about 0.5 cm long, making them easily visible to the naked eye but before reaching the size of an apple seed, they typically undergo five growth stages. As an egg, bed bugs are white and so, they can escape detection. That is why you should look for telltale signs like droppings that are pale in color. Bed bugs also leave dark colored spots from blood digestion, pale colored remains when they shed their outer skin, or tiny egg shells that are pale yellow in color. So, if you come across of these warning signs inform the hotel immediately so they can call professional bed bug exterminators and flush out the infestation as soon as possible.

Warning Signs You’re Sleeping with Bed Bugs

Despite their name, bed bugs don’t nestle only in beds. They lounge into travel bags, overcoats, cushions, mattress seams, headboards and bedside chairs.

bed bugs can be found on bags and chairs too
  • Bed bugs are nocturnal creatures that become active at night. Obvious spots to locate them include the bed frame, skirting boards, curtain rails, and cracks in the door frames.
  • Bed bugs secrete pheromones to attract other bed bugs. This substance stinks, is black and gooey and can be found on the bed sheets.
  • They can range from super tiny to fairly large so you need to be on the lookout for a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Bed bugs don’t prefer too much heat so if you suspect an infestation, try blowing a hair dryer and it will force them out of their den.
  • Look for blood stains on the bed if you feel you’ve been bitten by bed bugs

Things to Do When You Find Bed Bugs in Hotels

When You Arrive at the Hotel – Ask for Mattress Covers

You can ask your hostel or hotel to encase your mattress in a protective covering that is impenetrable. While this may not guarantee complete protection, it greatly lessens the chances of being bitten by bed bugs.

ask for protective bed and pillow covers

While You are Staying – Elevate Your Luggage

Do not place your luggage on the bed to avoid an infestation. Place it on a tiled floor in the bathroom or on a rack. As a preventive measure, put all your clothes and other items in a sealed plastic bag and avoid placing your belongings on the bed unless you are 100% sure that it is devoid of bed bugs.

When You are Packing to Check Out – Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Back Home

At the end of your tour, wash all your clothes and pack them in vacuum sealed storage covers. Don’t open these bags until you get home to avoid giving bed bugs a window of opportunity to raid your home. Open them only once you get in front of your washing machine. Any item that cannot be washed like devices, books, or toiletries should be sealed in Ziploc bags.

wash clothes once you get home

When You Get Back Home – Treat Your Luggage Before You Bring it Inside

When you are home, take all the items that could not be washed and steam clean them with a dispenser that does not dole out water. You also have the option of using your deep freezer for freezing non-electronic things like your books, sunglasses, and flip-flops because bed bugs cannot survive in freezing cold temperatures.


Finding bed bugs and getting rid of them can be draining but the peace of mind it gives is no match to the hassles of battling with a full-blown invasion in your home. If you are not sure and find even one bed bug make sure to opt for residential pest control service. Professional pest control experts will inspect your house and help you get rid of bed bugs.

So the next time you take a trip, follow these steps and stay safe!

Guest post written by: Raymond Web
When people find their homes and offices infested with pests, it is not uncommon for them to panic. Raymond Web has taken the task to educate people on pest prevention and control strategies helping them keep their surroundings healthy, safe and pest-free. Being the digital marketing manager for Take Care Termite and Pest Control, in Tracy, CA, he has an in-depth understanding of people and their pain points due to pests, which he uses in his content to educate.