Tips from a Traveling Germaphobe - Bed Bugs
While travel is exciting, it can also produce some anxiety for germaphobes. Germs are something we all must live with, and this pesky reality shouldn’t make anyone miss out on a great travel experience. Here are a few tips to combat germ anxiety…and germs themselves…when traveling. This week we bring to you the wonder of bed bugs.
If you want to “sleep tight,” do not let any bed bugs bite! An entire article can easily be devoted to bed bugs alone. If you are not familiar with them, I’m about to pop your blissfully unaware bubble. BED BUGS ARE A NIGHTMARE. Bed bugs should be on the mind of every conscious traveler.
In a nutshell, bedbugs are tiny bugs that feed on human blood, usually at night. Unfortunately, they like to dwell in hotels and in other high traffic settings (even airplanes and airport shuttles because they hitch rides in luggage). Note, they are a product of volumes of people, and not necessarily found in “dirty” areas. They can live in the cleanest and nicest of hotels.
Bed bugs can result in itchy bites, rashes and other unpleasantries. They typically come out at night, and travelers see evidence of them (bites) a day or even a few days later. Some people don’t react to the bites, so it is important to pay attention for them because, even if you don’t react to their bites, you don’t want these travel hitchhikers coming home with you as an unwelcome souvenir. Your loved ones may react to the bites, and you can quickly have a home infestation of them if you bring them back with you.
Bed bugs can live in and around mattresses, bed frames or any other places with crevices-like light switch plates, drawers, baseboards, and other areas. They are difficult to find because they typically only venture out at night.
There are a few tips to avoid bed bug problems. Check your hotel bed area for tiny bugs (as small as an apple seed) or signs of the bugs. Signs can include tiny black/reddish/brown dots (blood excrements from the bugs). Pull the sheet back and inspect the crevices of the mattress using your room key or a credit card. If you find anything, alert the front desk and ask to change rooms.
Regardless of whether you see any outward signs of bedbugs, DO NOT place your luggage or other items on the floor or on the bed. Use the luggage racks provided. You may also place them on the dresser, a table, or other slippery/sleek surface. (On another note, do you know where the bottom of your suitcase has been? Get it off the bed!) If the hotel has a tub separate from the shower, place your luggage inside the tub. (As a germaphobe, were you really going to use the hotel tub anyway?) The key takeaway is don’t place your luggage in areas where it is easy for a bed bug to crawl into, at the foot of the bed, on the floor or on a sofa.
Travel with bed bug strips. You can purchase bed bug traps online or at any major hardware store. Place some in your suitcase and around your suitcase or personal items. Bed bug infestations are stressful and costly (and very difficult) to eliminate. Better to be safe than sorry… bed bugs are nothing to be cavalier about.
Ask anyone who has ever dealt with bed bugs… once bitten, twice shy!
By The Traveling Germaphobe ~ Series No. 4
I hope these tips help you travel as bed bug free as possible and stay tuned for our next installment, restaurants. Stay healthy and sanitize often!