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How to spot — and prevent — bedbugs while you travel

TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels

They’re creepy, crawly, night-time feasters. Yep, bed bugs. Even if you’ve never encountered these pesky, skin-nibbling insects, just the thought of them will likely make your skin crawl.

Bed bug pro Adam Greenberg shares the tricks of the trade for fending off bed bugs.

When traveling, you’re particularly susceptible. Whether you’re staying in high-end hotels, dirt-cheap roadside motels or crammed in hostels, doesn’t much matter — bed bugs don’t give a hoot about star ratings.

Adam Greenberg, bed bug expert and president of USBedBugs.com, reveals everything you need to know about reducing nasty encounters with bedbugs on the road and, more importantly, prevent them from hitching a ride home with you in your suitcase.

CST: In recent years, bed bug warnings have skyrocketed — why the sudden upsurge?

Adam: While bed bugs were gone from the U.S. for about 30 years, they still existed in pockets around the world. As the U.S. has really cut back on its use of strong pesticides like DDT, the environment exists for many insects to return. Bed bugs were first spotted in small numbers here in the late ’90s and have been growing in numbers ever since.

CST: When it comes to the accommodation style of our global travel community, it can range from five-star-style one day to gritty-backpacking hostel the next. Does the type of accommodation impact the bedbug risk, or are all of them equally at risk of infestation?

Adam: Bed bugs do not discriminate and can be found wherever people are sleeping, whether that is a five-star resort or a youth hostel. Hotels that have a higher turnover of guests are a higher risk of bed bugs because every guest is a potential source coming into the facility.

Hotels that have average stays of a week or two have fewer people coming in and therefore less chance of bed bugs. Of course, it only takes one person to bring bed bugs in so all travelers need to be vigilant wherever they stay. I have found that the fancier hotels have more at stake with regard to their reputation and better funding so they tend to be more proactive at bringing in exterminators and canines to sniff out bed bugs.

Photo Credit: iStock

CST: For backpackers, rooms are often shared dorm-style. Any suggestions for decreasing the risk of bedbugs in these cramped situations?

Adam: Either bed bugs are already in the room or they aren’t. Make sure everyone checks the edges of their mattress for signs of bed bugs before settling in. Youre looking for black spotting that looks like mold around the edges of the mattress, perhaps on or around the mattress tag or even behind the headboard.

CST: What tips in general can you offer to travelers who want to reduce the risk of bedbug bites and — worse — preventing the critters from hopping in their luggage and coming back home with them?

Adam: To reduce the risk of bed bug bites, make sure you inspect the bed area before settling in. If the bed bugs have been there for more than a few weeks already, you will be able to spot signs of bed bugs and ask for a different room.

Covering arms and legs with clothing will cut down on the bug bites for a short while. Bites are a minor inconvenience compared to the traumatic experience of bringing bed bugs home with you.

It is critical that travelers keep all their belongings off the floor, away from the bed and out of the drawers — all places where bed bugs are hiding. I strongly recommend using plastic bags to keep your suitcases and clothes secure. Excellent options include contractor grade, heavy-duty garbage bags, ZipLoc Big Bags and BugZip Travel Protectors that zipper around your whole backpack or suitcase so you don’t have to unpack.”

CST: What should a traveler do if they realize the hotel or hostel they’ve been staying at is infested?

Adam: Make sure you have all your belongings bagged and laundered. The heat from the dryer is really all that is needed to kill bed bugs so anything that can go in the dryer will get debugged. When you come home, do not bring your luggage into the house. You can use a good steamer to kill bed bugs or a portable heater called the PackTite to heat up larger items.

CST: Any ways of ensuring they don’t hitch a ride home with you?

Adam: If you think you’ve been exposed to bed bugs you will also need to be vigilant at home for signs of bed bugs. It could take one to four weeks before you start seeing bites at home so to catch them early you will need the help of some home monitors. There are a couple that are priced around $20 per bed called the ClimbUp Interceptors or the BB Alert Passive Monitor, both of which require you to inspect them with a flashlight once a week to see if they have caught bed bugs in or around your bed.

CST: Why are bed bugs so feared? Do they pose health risks? Or are they just an unsightly, irritating presence that becomes costly to kill?

Adam: Bed bugs can pose significant health risks in a few ways. First, the constant scratching of bites increases the risk of secondary infections like staph or MRSA. Second, people have  trouble sleeping when they feel bed bugs are in their bedroom, which can even impact their ability to safely drive or work.

Actually, more than 50 per cent of people do not react to bed bug bites and would have no way of knowing they are getting bitten. Those people usually don’t discover they’ve been living with bed bugs for about two months. By that time there will be so many bed bugs embedded in the walls and spread around their home that it could take thousands of dollars to get rid of them. The emotional stress of never really knowing if you have gotten rid of every single bug is very traumatic and a real problem.

RELATED READING:

Dog has nose for sniffing out bedbugs
Bedbugs in Canada
Pest notes: Government of Canada
Adam Greenberg on WBNS TV

Copyright @ 2012 Chic Savvy Travels


Date Added: March 19, 2012 | Comments (0)

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