If you look in my travel bag, you will see pants, shirts, and socks; all the normal things a person would bring to a hotel. But, inside my bag is something else most people don’t usually consider when traveling—I always have a good flashlight and I never leave home without it.
Why a Flashlight?
First off, I’m a biologist who works for the government. I do a great deal of traveling—which still doesn’t explain the flashlight. Contrary to popular belief, there are monsters under the bed. I use my flashlight to look along the bed, paying close attention to the hard edge of the box springs. The inner corner of the nightstand is next, followed by the headboard and even a search behind the pictures on the wall. The monster I seek likes to hide in dark areas. It comes out at night to suck the blood of its victims and disappears after gorging itself. If vampires come to mind, you’re not far off. These bloodsuckers are small six-legged insects called bedbugs.
All That…for Bedbugs?
The idea that something could be feasting upon me while sleeping freaks me out. I don’t know about you but I don’t like sharing my room with something that wants to have me for dinner. What’s more, these bugs are worse than the creepy guy at the bar who wants all of your contact information; bedbugs actually want to come home with you, and they will hitch a ride with you any way they can. But don’t worry; there are ways to reduce the risk of unwanted traveling companions. I’ve already mentioned the flashlight, but here are few more ideas:
Don’t set your luggage on the bed. Bedbugs are photophobic, meaning that they tend to hide from light. The average suitcase provides numerous hiding places ready for transport. Use the luggage rack provided by the hotel, only if it has metal legs. The metal surface is too slick for bedbugs to climb.
If the luggage rack is wood, don’t use it. Bedbugs can easily climb wooden surfaces. If the motel only provides a wooden luggage rack, store your bags inside the tub. It sounds strange, but porcelain is another surface that bedbugs can’t climb. Just make sure to move your luggage before you take a shower.
Read hotel/motel reviews. Bedbug bites are itchy, look like red welts, and make people angry. Guest reviews can tell you a lot. Numerous bedbug reports, means it might be a good idea to avoid the hotel.
Check for blood. It sounds gross, but it’s a good habit. When you wake up, check the sheets and pillowcases for blood spots. As bedbugs feed, they defecate. If you find bloody spots in your bed, you know that you have been bitten and the risk for transport increases dramatically.
Bag up used clothing. Whatever clothing you used to sleep or lounge in store in a large Ziploc bag. Make sure the seal is unbroken. When you return home, transfer used clothing directly into the washer. Hot water and detergent make a quick end to any bedbugs that thought to find refuge within your clothes.
Don’t let your house become infested. A single female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. In a few months, one bedbug can turn into thousands of hungry mouths just waiting for you to turn out the lights. Taking the preventative steps will cost only a few minutes of your time. Keep your travels worry free and make sure you look under the bed for bloodsucking monsters.