How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Traveling

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Hotels, motels, Airbnb, public transportation, and hostels. These are but a few places where you can encounter bed bugs during your trip.

These elusive pests can turn your dream vacation into a horrific ordeal and even hitchhike to your home through your belongings.

So, while traveling can be an exciting and enriching experience, it also comes with its share of challenges and concerns with falling prey to being a real possibility.

Therefore, before setting out to your next destination, it would be best to learn how to avoid bed bugs when you travel.

Join me as we discover the secrets to a comfortable, bed-bug-free trip.

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When Traveling

how to avoid bed bugs when traveling

1. Research Accommodations

Your chances for a bed bug-free trip start with carefully researching potential accommodations. Take time to choose a reputable and bed bug-free place. The following should help you pick the most conducive lodging.

  • Read reviews from previous guests on websites and apps like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Check for mentions of bed bugs or cleanliness issues. Isolated complaints might not indicate a widespread problem, but be wary of multiple complaints.
  • Search for recent reports of bed bug infestations at your chosen accommodation.
  • A low numerical cleanliness rating can be a red flag for potential bed bug issues.
  • Contact the hotel or hostel’s front desk or management to inquire about their bed bug prevention and treatment protocols. Ask about their proactive measures and what they do to address any potential infestations.
  • Online travel forums and social media groups also help.

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2. Account For Bed-Bug Prevention When Packing

Your luggage is often a bed bug’s go-to place to invade and hitch rides, so besides choosing the best place to stay, packing is also crucial.

Use hard-shell luggage rather than soft-sided bags. Hard-sided luggage contains fewer folds, nooks, crannies, and seams, hence less likely to harbor bed bugs.

In addition, carry resealable plastic bags to keep your clothes and belongings separated and protected from potential bed bug exposure. Set aside large resealable plastic bags for storing used clothes separate from clean ones.

Moreover, set aside some resealable bags for your electronic devices, chargers, and accessories.

Also, consider creating a barrier between your clothes and the interior of your suitcase with luggage liners.

If you can, pack a portable garment steamer to steam your clothes, thus killing any bed bugs that may have found their way into your luggage.


Keep in mind that the fewer belongings you bring, the fewer potential hiding places for bed bugs, so pack light and smart.

In addition, when putting away your luggage at your accommodation, avoid placing your luggage directly on the bed, floor, or upholstered furniture. Instead, use a luggage rack or a hard but smooth surface. This ensures bed bugs cannot access any hiding spots in your bags.

Moreover, don’t keep your luggage in closets and dressers.

3. Inspect Your Room

Once you get to your accommodation and check-in, thoroughly inspect your room. This step is essential even if you did your due diligence when researching accommodation.

Leave your belongings outside the door or inside the bathroom before commencing inspection. Use a flashlight to examine potential hiding spots, especially in dark corners and crevices.

During inspection, watch out for dead or live bed bugs, bed bug skin and eggs, bed bug stains, and any evidence of bed bug treatment.

Inspect the bed’s headboard, box spring, bed frame, mattress, bedding, upholstered furniture, luggage rack, closet, carpets, baseboards, and bathroom.

Consider using a sleep sheet or sleeping bag liner on the bed to create an additional barrier between you and the bedding.


Be extra cautious when staying in shared accommodations like hostels or using communal spaces like public transportation to avoid bed bugs. This is because these areas are prime bed bug breeding grounds due to the high turnover of guests.

What To Do Upon Arriving Back Home

Your steps into preventing a bed bug infestation don’t end once you check out and travel home. Before bringing your luggage into your home, thoroughly inspect it for bed bugs, focusing on seams, zippers, and corners.

Illuminate the dark areas with a flashlight. If possible, unpack your luggage outside your home to prevent bed bugs from entering your living space.

After that, wash all your travel clothes and personal items using hot water, then dry them with the dryer set on high heat.

Additionally, use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean the interior and exterior of your luggage, including the seams, pockets, and crevices with a vacuum cleaner.

Furthermore, carefully inspect, clean, and treat your items, such as shoes, bags, and souvenirs.

After cleaning and checking your luggage, keep it inside an airtight plastic bag or within luggage designed to be bed bug-proof to prevent any potential stowaways from escaping.

Placing bed bug interceptors, also known as bed bug traps, under the legs of your bed and any upholstered furniture will help capture any bed bugs that may have traveled home with you.

Also, monitor your home for signs of bed bugs over the next few weeks. Early detection will help you act promptly and prevent a full-blown infestation.

Steps To Take If You Find Bed Bugs in Your Accommodation When Traveling

While unfortunate, finding bed bugs in your place of accommodation during your trip is a possibility. If this happens, take immediate action to address the issue and minimize the impact on your trip. Take these steps:

  • Place your luggage and personal items in a safe location away from the infested area, preferably in the bathroom or another room.
  • Refrain from sitting or lying on any furniture in the room, including the bed and chairs, because bed bugs can quickly attach themselves to your clothing.
  • Capture clear photographs or videos of the bed bugs, their eggs, and any indications of an infestation. This documentation will prove invaluable in case you need to substantiate the problem with management, for your travel insurance, or to bolster any potential claims.


  • Contact the hotel, hostel, or accommodation management once you discover the bed bugs. Use the phone or visit the front desk in person. Politely and calmly inform them of the issue, showing them the evidence you’ve documented.
  • Request a new, bed bug-free room or ask to be moved to a different accommodation if available. Make sure the new room has been thoroughly inspected for bed bugs before moving in. Also, examine the new place yourself just to be sure.
  • You can also change accommodations altogether. If you decide to leave, request a refund for unused nights or services.


  • Wash and dry your clothes and personal items on the highest heat settings, if possible, or use a laundromat with high-temperature dryers to kill any potential bed bugs that may have attached themselves.
  • After laundering, inspect your luggage, clothing, and personal items for any remaining bed bugs or eggs. Conduct a meticulous inspection to confirm that you haven’t inadvertently brought bed bugs along with you.
Final Remarks

Prevention and early detection and prevention are invaluable in avoiding the discomfort and inconvenience of dealing with bed bugs while traveling. So, extensively researching accommodations, packing with bed bug prevention in mind, inspecting your room, and keeping your luggage secure. Being proactive goes a long way in ensuring you enjoy a peaceful trip.

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