Travel Tips: What to Do if You Get Bitten by Bedbugs while on Vacation

What do bedbug bites look like?It is the last night of an amazing vacation, and the family has had a marvelous time. As you get out of the shower and glance into the mirror, you notice some strange little red bumps near your waistline and a few more trickling across your ankle. With horror, you recall all of the newspaper reports about hotels infested with bedbugs and immediately check the corners of the sheets for the tell-tale reddish brown stains that might indicate their presence. Unfortunately, you find evidence of these tiny insects and need to know what to do next. First, do not panic. Then, consider some or all of the following suggestions:

Before Leaving the Hotel

The management of any establishment is concerned with the cleanliness of the rooms that are offered to guests. The evidence of bedbugs should be reported immediately so that steps can be taken to eradicate them from this room. Management will also want to check other areas of the hotel for the presence of these blood sucking critters. Just to ensure that no other guest is inconvenienced, it is also a great idea to report an infestation to the local health department, who can then check back to see that some action has been taken. To keep from transporting any of these unwanted guests back into your own home, the following actions may help:

• Place any clothing that you are not wearing into plastic garment bags before placing them back into the suitcase.

• Put another garbage bag around the suitcase itself and secure tightly.

• Lay the clothes you will be wearing on the bathroom counter and run the hair dryer as close as you can get to the fabric without ruining it in a slow motion over the entire surface. Heat is effective in killing these tiny predators.

• Wear canvas shoes if you have them with you so that they can be washed when you get home.

After Getting Back Home

Do not enter the house without first unpacking the luggage. Then take the following precautionary measures:

• Take the plastic bags full of clothing straight to the washer, leaving the suitcases in the garage or some outside storage area.

• Run the clothing through the highest heat cycle on the dryer for at least 30 minutes; if some materials cannot withstand this heat, put them back into the plastic bags, secure, and head for the cleaners.

• Put any leather shoes in the freezer overnight to kill any interlopers that might have caught a ride.

• Check the corners of mattresses, the edges of the upholstery, and the hems of curtains religiously for the next two weeks to catch early signs of an infestation of bedbugs.

If, despite all of your efforts, bedbugs manage to invade your home territory, it is wise to call a certified professional to help eliminate their presence. Bedbugs are hardy insects and can circumvent most amateur efforts to get rid of them. Thankfully, bites usually only cause severe itching which can be controlled with calamine lotion, and are a nuisance rather than a health concern.

Guest author Karen Barnes writes for, which has a lot of useful information, including bedbug rash pictures to help you identify whether you’ve been bitten by these pests.

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