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How-to Check Hotel Rooms For Bed Bugs

Things That Go Bite In The Night

I’ve been to the exterminator not once, but twice within that past year with a critter zipped-tight in a sandwich bag, stuffed in another sandwich bag, wrapped in plastic bag, and then gingerly put into my tote bag. Am I a little neurotic? Maybe. Ok, yes I am. But after waking up to bugs crawling on my arm while staying a four star hotel, I’m a little buggie about bed bugs. While bed bugs inflict more mental anguish than physical harm, getting rid of these pesky buggers can be expensive and exhausting.

bed bugsWhen staying in a hotel (or other lodging buildings) it helps to thoroughly check your room before settling in. First, know what a bed bug looks like -ahem, if you haven’t noticed the picture to the right, do so now.  Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed.  Every place has their own local bugs you may not be familiar with, so don’t panic at every strange looking bug you see wandering in your room. Bed bugs like hiding in corners, underneath furniture, or on the ceiling. 

  • Leave your bags in the bathroom or in the entry hall. In the event you do find bed bugs, you’ll want to high-tail it out of there without putting your luggage at risk of picking up a bed bug.
  • Look at the bed sheets for an evidence of stains. Bed bugs not only leave bloodstains behind but also black excrement.
  • Lift up the mattress pad and examine the lip of the mattress. Bed bugs like to cozy into nooks and crannies and this is also where you’ll find those icky stains mentioned above.
  • Check behind pictures, nightstands, headboard, and the bed frame for bugs or fecal stains.

If you don’t find any evidence of bugs, go a head and unpack. Put your bags on the luggage stand away from the wall or furniture. You may also want to purchase a luggage protection product (read my review of BugZip here). Just because you don’t find evidence of bed bugs, doesn’t mean there aren’t any in the room. If you wake up with welts or bloodstains on the pillow and mattress, lodge a complaint with the hotel. In my experience, hotels don’t want the publicity of a bed bug invasion, so raising a bit of a stink (politely) about getting your belongings cleaned, or providing some form of compensation is well worth it to them. When you return home after a bug scare, empty your luggage in the bathtub, shake your clothes out and wash them in hot water. Thoroughly vacuum your luggage. Change your bedding frequently in the coming weeks and remember to sleep tight.


Shanna Quinn is a Galavanting contributing editor and based in Chicago, IL. She likes lattes, going barefoot, when public transit is on time (not that it happens…ever) and of course traveling! You can follow Shanna on twitter!

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Reader Comments (4)

Sometimes, like when showing up late at night after a hellishly long bus ride or if the room/bed in question is the only one available, you just have to thrill seek it and stay. I carry a thin, silk sleeping bag liner with me for use in hostels - might not completely protect me from bedbugs but it sure does offer peace of mind against other bed nastiness.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWill

I like your hotels post dude want more information………….

August 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHotel Travels

Thanks for the tips! I am traveling soon and these will definatly come in handy.

August 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

thank you for this information I hope to find that I am happy to have shared other

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