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Travelers Guide To Bed Bugs

It is no fun dealing with bed bugs on vacation, but it is even worse bringing those tormenting bugs back home with you. So, we've put together this guide to help you better understand this pest threat, and keep you protected everywhere you go.


Most bed bug guides focus on motels and hotels, but bed bugs aren't exclusive to these places. They can be found in resorts, cabins, cruise liners and other places where people go on vacation. They can be picked up at a friend or relative's house. Kids can get them when they sleep over at a friend's house. They have been found in taxis, buses, planes, trains, and even boats. Rather than simply focusing on travelers staying in motels and hotels, we've made this guide all-encompassing. If you travel outside of your home, even to go to work, this guide can help you keep bed bugs from coming back home with you.

What Bed Bugs Look Like

You may already know that bed bugs are rust-colored, oval, and about the size of an apple seed. What you may not know is that bed bugs don't always look like that. If a bed bug has had a recent blood meal, they may look less flat and more bloated. They will also take on a pill shape. And, immature nymphs don't look like adult bed bugs. When a bed bug first hatches, it is white and mostly transparent. As it develops, it will become more tan and less transparent--though never fully opaque.

Why is it important to know what a bed bug looks like? If you find a tiny insect feeding on your arm and you don't properly identify it as a bed bug, you could accidentally bring an infestation home with you. And, since immature nymphs are more likely to feed on you in the daytime, it is important to understand that they don't have the same appearance as the bed bug images you see on the news.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

No matter where you are, it is important to know what places bed bugs prefer to hide. Some of these locations can be found in many places. Others are more specific. Look in the locations that are appropriate for where you will be traveling and what you will be traveling in.

  • Beds. This is the most obvious hiding place for bed bugs, and a good place to start. If your travels include sleeping in a bed, it is important to search the bedding, sheets, mattresses, and box springs for the bed bug signs listed below.

  • Upholstered furniture. This can be a couch in a public venue, a chair in a hotel room, a seat in a movie theater, or the back seat of a taxi. Bed bugs can feed on us even when we're fully awake. Upholstered chairs and couches found in dark places have a higher risk of infestation.

  • Carpet edges. It is always a good idea to check along carpet edges, especially around the area of the bed.

  • Electronics. Bed bugs have been found infesting everything from computers to alarm clocks. Items that sit near beds, couches, and upholstered chairs are the most susceptible.

  • Seams and stitching. This is a more specific hiding place. If bed bugs try to hide in your luggage, duffle bag, sleeping bag, or some other portable item, it is important to check the seams and stitching first.

  • Outlets and wall voids. Sometimes bed bugs tuck themselves away in walls.

Bed Bug Signs

When searching for bed bugs it is important to look for the following signs:

  • Black fecal patches, streaks, and droppings. Bed bugs leave their feces in areas of infestation, and on items as they travel.

  • Blood stains. If bed bugs are infesting, there will usually be brown blood stains.

  • Insect skins. As bed bugs develop they shed their skins. These will be stuck to areas of infestation and littered along travel routes.

  • Scent. Bed bugs excrete smells to communicate with each other. If you smell something that reminds you of a dirty locker room towel, bed bugs may be present.

  • Bites. Get to know what bed bug bites look like. These are red welts that often appear in patterns of three bites in a row, with an associated rash. Recognizing bites on other people may give you the heads up that a bed bug threat is present.

No matter where you travel, always be on the lookout for signs of bed bugs, and the bugs themselves. If an infestation finds its way into your home, call a professional for immediate assistance.

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