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Posted on Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Dave!"I'm never leaving my house again."
          —Everybody who has ever seen a bed bug in their hotel ever.

Back when I was traveling poor and sleeping in hostels (on good days) or train stations (on not-so-good days), I fully expected that I'd eventually wake up to find a spider on my face... or cockroaches in my shoes... or rats in my luggage... or some other infestation nightmare. I took every precaution I could but, when you're lodging on the cheap, there are inevitabilities that you learn to accept.

But I was ridiculously lucky.

With the exception of a minor ant problem once, I don't have any such horror stories to tell.

And once I was making a bit more money and started staying in nice hotels, I never thought I would. Even once a resurgence of bed bugs was being reported. "Surely that won't apply to me and my four-star hotel!" I'd say to myself.

Except I was living in a dream world and it was only a matter of time before everything came crashing down.

So when, at long last, I finally awoke to find two bed bugs crawling on my comforter, I was anything but shocked. My astounding run of luck had come to an end and nothing more. It was a horrifying wake-up call, and I tried to be grateful I wasn't bitten, but it's not like freaking out about it will do any good.

And that's when you start combing the internet to find out what to do.

Only to find out that any hotel can get infested with bed bugs regardless of how much money you pay. Even worse, no hotel is really immune from being infested because there's simply no way to avoid the problem when you've got a steady stream of people passing through your doors... any one of which could be bringing unwanted guests with them.

So this is my new reality...

  • Packing everything in plastic zipper bags within my suitcase.
  • Bagging my electronics before putting them in my backpack.
  • Immediately inspecting my room, tearing apart the bed looking for signs of bed bugs.
  • Spraying a human-safe death potion around the mattress.
  • Never setting my suitcase (or anything else) on a bed... instead using a table or luggage stand (which has been carefully inspected).
  • Putting all dirty clothes into a sealable bag.
  • When arriving home, pulling out my toiletries in their sealed bags... then double-bagging my entire suitcase before putting it in my trunk. Ditto for my backpack, once my gear has been removed.
  • When getting back to my house, immediately hopping in the shower, bagging all my dirty clothes, and taking a hot shower.
  • Putting my bagged dirty clothes and double-bagged suitcase into a thermal oven overnight.
  • Removing all my clothes, washing them in hot water, then drying them until thuroughly dried.
  • Re-bagging my suitcase, backpack, and toiletries pack, then putting them back in the thermal oven for another round.
  • Filling all cracks and crevices in my entire home with diatomaceous earth.
  • Wrapping my mattress, box spring, and pillows in encasements.
  • Making sure everything I store away is in air-tight containers or bags.
  • Regularly inspecting/cleaning everything I own.
  • Assuming my stuff is infested every time I return from a trip.

The good news is that I found no evidence of bedbugs after baking all my stuff. But I regret nothing. Not the $350 I spent in bed bug defense. Not the extra time and effort it took to be cautious. Not the paranoia in going above and beyond in making sure I'm not unleashing an infestation in my home.

Because the alternative... having to get rid of bed bugs when they're so notoriously difficult to get rid of... is so much worse.

Better safe than sorry and all that.

And if you do any traveling? Better protect yourself. It's only a matter of time.

Categories: Travel 2014Click To It: Permalink


  1. Geoffrey says:

    Well thanks for that, as I prepare for my trip to OH.

  2. Wow, that sucks that you found bed bugs. But this entire article has actually been super handy and informative. Bookmarked in the event this ever happens to me I’ll know what to do.

  3. Colleen says:

    You can also take a few other precautions that we take when traveling:

    Keep your suitcase in the bathtub in the hotel room. Bedbugs don’t like smooth surfaces and the bathtub is usually the farthest location from carpet/bedding.
    Check out before booking your hotel. It isn’t fool proof, but you can avoid those hotels with multiple reports.
    A good dose of alcohol. Does nothing for bedbugs, but can help with being totally creeped out.

  4. Lynne says:

    Was waiting for this one. Good summary of everything I found out when it happened to me.

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