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How to avoid bed bugs when traveling
Healthy Travel

How to Avoid Bed Bugs when Traveling

Are you planning a trip and thinking about how to avoid bed bugs when traveling? Keep reading for the best tips and learn more.  

Bed bugs are pesky little creatures and travelers certainly run the risk of experiencing them firsthand. Bed bugs can pop up in many places, they can range from low-end, cheap hostels to ruining professional athletes’ sleep on a road trip.

Bed bugs can ruin a vacation. Even worse, they can travel home with you. Let’s dive into where they come from, how to know if you have them and how to avoid bed bugs when traveling.


Where do bed bugs come from?

While the historical origin of bed bugs is unknown, it’s important to understand where they come from if you wish to learn how to avoid bed bugs when traveling. Bed bugs are a nuisance, they bite us, usually in a straight line along our veins, and usually target the upper body, as they’re attracted to our breath.

They spread easily as all you need to do is lie on a mattress with bed bugs and they can get on your clothes and move around with you, spreading wherever you go. They can be quite difficult to get rid of.


How do you know if you have bed bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny little insects and can be hard to see at first. Here is a list of ways to spot bed bugs


Itchy skin

itchy skin

If you have a bed bug issue, then you will immediately start to feel some itchiness on your skin. Bed bugs do bite and while the bites are so tiny they really won’t hurt you, they do cause skin irritation


Red spots or bumps on the skin

Bites from bed bugs can form into red marks or even larger bumps on your skin. This is your body’s natural response to the bites as it tries to heal. Everyone has a different reaction to bed bug bites, itching it a lot may make the reaction worse.


Location & types of bites

Bed bugs typically bite in a straight line along our veins and mostly target our upper body. It’s rare for them to feast on your leg. Bites on your leg may indicate mosquito bites but you still want to be cautious.


Stains on the mattress

If you inspect the mattress or pillows at your hotel and see small brown or red stains on them it’s a sign that there have been or are bed bugs on your mattress.


Insect casings on bed or furniture

You may find small remnants of bed bugs that have died or shed their casing. If you see small, hard shells on your bed then do not sleep there


Tips on how to avoid bedbugs when traveling

Hotel reviews

an image of a person arranging the towel

Hotel reviews are a great way to avoid bedbugs while traveling. Previous guests will no doubt post about a bad experience if the hotel has bed bugs.  If the owners respond, acknowledge they had a problem, and outline the steps taken, then you may be clear to stay there. Bad managers will try to cover it up and probably do nothing about the problem.


Check out the Bed Bug Registry

The bed bug registry is a website that shows places with known bed bug infestations. While not every hotel will be on here it’s a good way to put yourself at ease before you check in to know your hotel is not on the list.


For hostels, check the sleeping bag policy

If you are a budget traveler, staying in a hostel, make sure they don’t allow sleeping bags. Sleeping bags are a very easy way to transfer bed bugs. The bedding should be properly cleaned after each use. Interested in solo travel? Read more about what solo travel teaches you.


Check for bed bugs immediately

an image of bed bugs on the skin

As soon as you get to your room, follow the bed bug checking procedures. Inspect the mattress for stains, and inspect the seams of the mattress and furniture. Stains on a mattress will be the first sign.


Don’t put your luggage on the bed or furniture

Avoid placing your luggage on the bed or furniture at any point during your stay. That’s the easiest way for bed bugs to get into your things and torment you after you leave. Place your luggage in the middle of the bathroom while inspecting the room. After that try to place it on the metal luggage racks. Avoid using a hotel dresser and try to hang your clothes as an alternative. Packing light when you travel? Read more about some packing tips for airport security.


Change rooms

If you suspect there are bed bugs, immediately inform hotel management. Either ask for a new room or check out of the hotel and find a new place to stay.


How to get rid of bed bugs naturally


When traveling, if you experience bed bugs, you will want to take the following steps to ensure you are bedbug-free so you can continue your travels worry-free.


Wash your clothes immediately

If you encounter bed bugs while you travel, immediately find a way of washing your clothes, either at the hotel or at a local laundromat. Ask for a hot wash as heat kills bed bugs.


Dryer with high heat

a woman drying her clean clothes

Dry your clean clothes in a dryer at a high heat setting as the heat will kill the bed bugs.


Put your clothes in a freezer overnight

Freezing bed bugs (and their eggs) is another way to kill them. If you have access to a freezer place everything in there so you can continue on your journey bed bug-free.



Steam is a good way to kill bed bugs if you have experienced them when traveling. Not sure how many folks travel with steamers but if you find yourself in possession of one, it will do the trick.


Rubbing Alcohol

Pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and spray the little critters. Alcohol kills bed bugs. You can also try this travel bed bug spray.


Ziploc your dirty clothes

Any clothing that you have already worn should be placed in airtight bags and washed as soon as possible.