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Don't let the bed bugs come home

A magifying glass showing a bedbug on a pillow

Good night, sleep tight. We all know the rest of the rhyme. When I was little, my dad used to say that almost every night before I went to bed. What used to be a silly poem to me is now a serious fear when traveling. If you've encountered bed bugs while traveling, like my family has, you become paranoid of the little creatures and will do anything to avoid bringing them home.

According to a survey from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), one out of five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or in a hotel. Bedbugs are not only encountered at home, though, they have been found in hotels, public transportation, offices, and even clothing stores. So far, our home is in the clear. But with bedbug infestations on the rise, how do you have a relaxing vacation knowing you could bring home these pests that are so hard to get rid of? The NPMA has some informative articles on bed bug identification and prevention.

If you've encountered bed bugs while traveling, like my family has, you become paranoid of the little creatures and will do anything to avoid bringing them home.

Here are some tips to avoid bed bugs while traveling:

  • Know what to look for

    If you've never seen them, check out for some detailed (and gross!) pictures of what bed bugs look like and what to look for.
  • Pack like a pro

    Seal items and clothing in plastic bags before traveling. Remember to bring extra bags for dirty laundry. Also bring a large bag to seal up your suitcase when you get to your destination. The bag will ensure bed bugs can't take residence in your luggage while you're away.
  • Research before you go

    On websites like, you can enter a hotel name and location and the site will search through a user-submitted database to see if there are any bedbug reports on file for that hotel.
  • Inspect your room.

    Before you get too comfy where you are staying, check the bed, pull back the linens, and inspect the mattresses, box springs and in cracks of the headboard. If you spot any bed bugs, or signs of bed bugs, like dots of blood or brown dots, change rooms far from the room you found them in, or change establishments.
  • Be meticulous when you unpack.

    Unpack your belongings and sort them before you go in your home. Take all your clothing and/or bedding and immediately wash and dry them. The heat from the dryer, for 20 minutes or more, will get rid of any bed bugs that may have hitched a ride on your clothes. Thoroughly check and wipe down your luggage carrier, toiletries, shoes and other belongings before bringing them into your house.

Awareness of the issue, a good inspection, taking the time to pack and unpack properly, and being prepared ahead of time is time worth spending in order to put your mind at ease when you travel. Taking a few precautions can prevent these tiny little bloodsuckers from entering your home.

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