One of the most common ways for your home to become infested with bed bugs is for you to bring them home with you from a vacation. If you spend even one night, or one hour in an infested room, you are liable to have bed bug hitchhikers in your clothing or your suitcases when you come home.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) issued a set of guidelines in June of 2010 to help vacationers defend themselves from these unwanted vacation souvenirs. The guidelines are in regard to three fundamental safeguards: how to check a hotel room for bed bugs, how to protect your luggage from infestation, and what to do when you get home.
Two things you will want to have packed with you in an easily accessible location, are a small flashlight and some large trash bags.
Check your room as soon as you arrive for bed bugs. Stow your luggage safely until you have decided to keep the room. The first place to look for evidence of bed bugs is on the mattress itself. Peel back the sheets and mattress cover so you can inspect the mattress seams and corners. You are looking for blood spots, cast off insect skins, and actual bed bugs, which are small brown insects, ranging in size from that of sesame seeds to lentils.
Next, use your flashlight to inspect behind the headboard and under the bed, especially in the pleats of any bed skirt that might be on the bed.
After inspecting the beds, look at any other “soft goods” in the room. This would be decorative pillows, comfy chairs, or even desk chairs with fabric seats. Again, you are looking in all the nooks and crannies of the fabric for blood spots, skins or bugs.
If you find evidence that the room is infested, call the hotel desk to have your room changed. Do not take any room next door to the infested room. Check the next room the same way as the first one. If everything passes inspection, you are prepared to unpack your luggage and stay in the room.
Keep your luggage from picking up bed bugs. Do not put anything on the bed, the carpet, or any other fabric surface until you have checked the room. Put your luggage on tiled flooring in the bathroom (or even in the bathtub) until you have checked the room. If you have decided to stay in the room – continue to keep your luggage off fabric surfaces until you have unpacked. Use the folding luggage supporter or the bathroom counters to hold you luggage as you unpack. Hang your clothing up directly. Do not put any clothing on the bed or upholstered furniture. When you have unpacked your luggage, store it in one of the plastic bags you brought along.
Finally — keep your laundry and your luggage from infecting your home. Put any laundry that has touched a fabric surfaces in the room in fresh plastic bags when you pack for home. Wash all your laundry in hot water once you get home. Unpack away from fabric surfaces in your home. Remember that bed bugs can live a year or more without a blood meal, so store your luggage away from the living areas of your home between trips.