You might not be aware of this, but bed bugs are making a resurgence and creating an epidemic in many of our big cities in the USA, Europe and Australia! Stubborn little critters, they are as feisty as crabs in college dorms, as pervasive as hair lice in elementary schools, and as eternal as cockroaches in NYC. I am convinced that if humanity goes totally insane and decides to blow itself up – the only creatures left on earth will be bugs.
That said, as wise travelers we need to be aware so we can identify possible issues while traveling. Just be because you are staying in a 5 star hotel that is no guarantee that you will be free of bed bugs. Having the ability to identify potential risks will make the difference between a wonderful vacation and feeling like a flea-bitten dog!
One of the more effective methods of avoidance is by looking. A great habit to get into is leaving your luggage outside the door or your room and going in for an inspection.
By taking up the sheets, you can get a good idea if your mattress is infested by looking for the following signs: squished bed bugs on the mattress, tiny areas of dried blood, an odd kind of sweet smell, and little piles of brownish-red bug poop.
Bed bugs are nocturnal so you may not see them during the day, but you might catch them wedged into the mattress creases sleeping. They are normally brownish as adults, oval in shape and flat. They can be 1/8 up to 1/4 of an inch in length – and they are patient, waiting for a nice warm body to lie down so they can have dinner. Those bed bug bites are pretty itchy, but they are not carriers of disease.
All in all a few bites are harmless enough, the problem is once you open your suitcase in your room you potentially become a transport system for bed bugs into your own home. That is how they have managed to infest NYC, being found in movie theaters, hotels, and even darkened restaurants and clubs. We’re like a free airline ticket anywhere!
As always, prevention is the best medicine – so it is up to you to do your best to check your surroundings. This is nothing to be embarrassed about – most bell-hops are aware of this and know that people are asking for a couple of minutes to check the room. Vacations should be delightful – and this is one way to make sure you don’t take your vacation home with you!