The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that bed bug infestations are on the rise and many travelers transport these pests without evening knowing it. There are ways you can prevent bringing bed bugs home with you from your next hotel stay to avoid an infestation in your home.

Although these insects don't commonly transmit diseases, they are a public health concern, and bite irritations can lead to infection. It's difficult to get rid of bed bugs once they enter your home, so take preventative measures to prevent the bugs from getting into your luggage and clothes at a hotel.

Place your Luggage in the Bathroom

The bathroom is the least likely space to harbor bed bugs. Put your luggage in the bathroom while you examine the area, and leave it in the bathroom throughout the trip if there is space. Avoid placing luggage on upholstered chairs or luggage holders since this is where previous guests probably placed their items.

Bring a plastic bedding storage bag or clothes bag to contain the luggage during your stay. Instead of throwing dirty clothes on the floor, put them in a sealable bag.

Investigate the Bed

The bed is where you can usually find these nocturnal insects lingering and hiding, and you should use a flashlight to investigate the area thoroughly. The bug looks small, circular, and brown, and resembles a tick. Investigate the following areas:

  • Look under the mattress and box frame.
  • Pull down and look under the sheets.
  • Examine around the headboard.
  • Check closely in the crack between the mattress and a headboard.
  • Keep an eye out for small pink dots from blood, or black peppered markings, these are indications of bed bugs.

Most bedbugs are found within 15 feet of the bed. Look behind dressers, nightstands, pictures and other items in the space. If you find bedbugs, you should notify the hotel of the problem immediately, and you'll want to find another location for your stay. If the hotel offers to relocate you, ask to be at least two floors away from your original room and do another investigation.

Prevention at Home

Not only are hotels high-risk areas for exposure to these pests, but trains and planes, where your luggage is transported with other luggage, is also a risk. In case you did manage to pick up some hitchhiking bed bugs on your trip, you want to take some precautionary measures as soon as you get home, like:

  • Place all clothes from the trip in the washing machine with hot water and then dry on the highest heat. Don't let the clothes linger on the floor for days or sit on carpeting or in a suit case.
  • Don't bring your suitcases or travel bags into the home, and send them to the dry cleaners to be treated.

If the temperature outside is below freezing, you can leave the luggage and clothes outside for 72 hours, and this should kill any bedbugs in the luggage.

It's best to be safe rather than having to get professional help for a bed bug infestation. Call the hotel in advance and ask if they have any bed bug issues in the past before you book your stay and take flashlight with you to make sure.