How to Avoid Bed Bugs when Traveling

Co-authored by wikiHow Staff

In this Article:Booking Your TripDuring Your Hotel StayReturning HomeCommunity Q&A6 References

Imagine finally finding time to take a much needed vacation. Then, when you return home relaxed and feeling rejuvenated, you discover you now have a bed bug problem! It is no surprise that traveling is one of the easiest ways to bring the unwelcome pests into your home. While traveling, there are several precautions you should take to keep this nightmare from happening.

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Investigate hotels. Prior to booking a hotel, research multiple options and read reviews/customer comments. There are dozens of sites that offer hotel feedback so take advantage of these resources.

  • Keep in mind that negative comments may simply be an unhappy guest who just wants to ruin the hotel’s reputation. However, if you see several comments around the same topic like bed bugs, consider it a legitimate concern.

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Call the hotel directly. Don’t hesitate to ask if they have ever had any issues in the past and what preventative measures they take to prevent bed bugs. If they can’t answer your questions, scratch them from your list of hotel options.


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Consider other options. If you’re traveling to a location where you know someone, think about staying with them instead of a traditional hotel. Crashing with a friend or family member will alleviate some stress and may be more enjoyable.

  • Enjoy the outdoors Head to the nearest camp ground and sleep under the stars or in a cozy tent. Many camps are extremely clean, and offer hot showers for very reasonable rates.


During Your Hotel Stay

  1. Inspect the mattresses. If you can’t get around a hotel stay and are concerned about the itchy critters, inspect the your room for any signs of bed bugs. You shouldn’t need any special tools to do this. Remove the sheet and mattress pad to inspect the four corners of the mattress and box spring.

    • Bugs are brown with a long, oval shaped body. Most are tiny, about the size of an apple seed but they can be larger, about the size of a nickel. You should also look for black fecal matter and a musty smell.[1]

Inspect the furniture. All furniture around the bed will need to be checked. This includes the headboard, nightstands and any pictures on the wall. These bugs can hide behind all of these items.[2]  
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Keep luggage off the floor. During your stay, use the provided luggage racks after they’ve been inspected for bugs of course. Bugs can hide in the small crevices and climb right into your bag.

  • Place the luggage rack away from any furniture. If the closet is large enough, keep it in there.

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Hang your clothes. Folding them and placing in drawers is an unnecessary risk. By hanging them, you significantly reduce your chances of having one or a few crawl into a shirt collar.

  • Before wearing any garment, shake it out as an extra precaution.


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Take a large plastic bag. Store your dirty clothes in a bag as bed bugs can smell and are attracted to the chemical that we leave behind on our clothing.

  • If you forget, ask the hotel to supply something like an extra trash bag.

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Alert the hotel. If you suspect your room has a bed bug problem, let the staff know immediately. Ask to be moved to another room as soon as possible.

  • Do not move to an adjacent room. Request a move to another floor.

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Inspect your luggage. Before entering your home, check the outside of your bags for any bed bug evidence like small eggs, a faint smell, etc. If you suspect you brought a few home with you, leave the bags in the garage or backyard. Do not take them inside.

  • If your luggage is a dark color it may be difficult to see. Use a lint roller, covering the entire bag, seams and zippers.[3]


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Unpack and wash. While you typically may unpack and throw your clothes onto the floor or into a hamper, this could spread any bugs you brought back with you. Instead, unpack and place your items directly into a washing machine or in a sealed bag until they can be laundered.

  • Don’t hang dry your clothes either. Tossing items into a scorching hot dryer will kill the bugs.
  • Even items that weren’t worn should be washed. Bugs could have crawled throughout the bag. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Shoes can be wiped down with a cloth and some hot water. Leave them outside in the sunlight if possible for a couple of hours too.

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Clean bags. After unpacking, vacuum all pieces of luggage inside and out. Immediately remove the collected debris, seal it, and place it outside. You can also place suitcases in sealed plastic bags, and store them away from your bedroom, such as in the basement or garage.

  • Never store suitcases under your bed.

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Look for bites. If you are itching or have red bumps on your legs, you may have a case of bed bugs. It may take you a while to discover what the problem is, and by that time, you could have a full outbreak.[4] Confirm your suspicions by visiting a doctor. They will have solutions for clearing any sores.

  • Contact a professional to discuss the extermination options available to you. They may recommend chemical or steam treatments.[5]
  • Research pesticides but be clear on their use. While some are great for indoors, others can only be used outside.[6]  




  • If you happen to notice that white powder is present within drawers, the closet, or around floorboards, it is likely that the room has already been treated for bed bugs.
  • Don’t avoid travel for the fear of bed bugs.



  • Bed bugs can reproduce quickly so don’t procrastinate with treating a problem.

via How to Avoid Bed Bugs when Traveling: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

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