How to Prevent Bed Bugs (Traveler Guide)


You can minimize the risk of a bed bug infestation in your own home. However, there is no one hundred percent protection, as there are many ways that bed bugs can spread. Due to their size, they can arrive unnoticed in second hand furniture, in your own or in another person’s luggage or by visitors in the apartment.

The likelihood of this is not very great. But it does not hurt to equip yourself with knowledge about the well-adapted insects and to further minimize the chances of bed bugs in your home. So you can prevent bed bugs rather than having to try and try to get rid of bed bugs again.

Prevent Bed Bugs while Traveling

Once bed bugs have found their way in your luggage, they are difficult to recognize and can easily be brought home. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to try to prevent bed bugs in your luggage with a few simple actions.

Anyone who thinks that you can only catch bed bugs in cheap hotels is wrong. Any previous guest could have put bed bugs in a room without the owners having recognized the little insects.

Prior to Travel

There are already a few products and means that can be considered before traveling. Some clothing repellents contain the ingredient Permethrin, which can be used as a defense against bed bugs and with which the backpack can be sprayed. Despite possibly developed resistance, the backpack should not be a tempting hide-away for a few weeks. In some countries, soldiers wear uniforms treated with permethrin to protect them from insects and parasites when they travel to tropical countries.

The same principle is also used for some sleeping bags with insect repellent fabric such as the COCOON TravelSheets made of silk, cotton or CoolMax fibers. The permethrin is integrated into the tissue during the manufacture process and should be harmless to people in low concentrations. However, permethrin is not totally undisputed. A critical assessment of impregnated clothing with permethrin is available here.

You can also prevent bed bugs when you use a closable protective cover for your backpack, in which you place your backpack overnight and close it with a zipper. In result, bed bugs can not get into your luggage through this physical barrier.

It is also helpful to stow your items and clothes in transparent plastic bags. This makes it easier to examine your own luggage. Also, potential hiding places for bed bugs are further reduced.

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During Your Travels

Preventing bed bugs during your journey can be done by following a few small steps. In particular, any acquired knowledge about  appearance, behavior and hiding places of bed bugs can be used effectively. At first, however, it is possible to ask the receptionist at check-in whether there have been any problems with bed bugs lately. Usually you will not (deliberately) be placed in an acutely endangered room. But in case you are placed in a room with bed bugs, it may be useful to have previously asked.

Once in the room, you can search it for any possible bed bug signs. You should definitely take a closer look at the mattress, bed frame and all furniture at the head of the bed. For these actions a small flashlight or a smartphone with flashlight function is very useful. But be careful when searching and avoid touching suspicious spots. If you find any suspicious signs, leave the room immediately and report it to the reception. Change to a different room should go without saying.

If everything is alright, you can still sleep in a sleeping bag with an integrated insect protection. Place your luggage in a protective bag cover and close it so no bed bugs can access your luggage.

Before departure, you can also thoroughly examine your luggage again. So that all uninvited guests like bed bugs do not travel home, or to know how careful you have to be at home when unpacking.

After Your Travels

If you have any fears of having brought bed bugs, there are several possibilities for your next actions. The safest thing is not to go into the house with your luggage, but to hand it directly to a pest controller for examination. Alternatively, you can unpack your luggage in the bathtub to prevent that bed bugs escape all over the place as much as possible. It is best to wash your clothes at more than °C 50 / 122 °F  and put them in the dryer.

Pack all non-washable items in a large bag and either heat it or treat it with diatomaceous earth. In principle, many different methods and means come into question. You find more tips about products and methods in the article on how to get rid of bed bugs.

In any case, it is important to be very careful and thorough so that bed bugs do not escape or bed bug eggs are missed and left untreated. In addition, you should closely observe the apartment for a few weeks and to check typical bed bug hiding places. If you do this, you can solve a possible bed bug problem quickly because you notice it early on.

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Prevent bed bugs when buying used items

Also be cautious when buying used items. Especially used mattresses or furniture can be infected. Even if it sounds a bit disturbing, but I’ve already read that bed bugs can hide in books, toys and even technical equipment. Therefore, there is really only one piece of advice: Thoroughly examine used objects of all kinds in advance and, if suspected, refrain from purchasing or treat them accordingly.

Bed bug alert! Photo: markcarper / Depositphotos

In this context, of course, don’t bring any used furniture from the street or from bulky garbage to your home. At least not, if untreated. After all, you do not know why the former owner wanted to get rid of it. Maybe it was because of bed bugs.

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Featured Image: Yarygin / Depositphotos

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