It's always been there. The seemingly dark threat of bedbugs lurking in your hotel room, under your sheets and nestled into the fibers of the carpet. Of course much of this is a result of media hype but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep a watchful eye out for these critters when you travel.
What exactly are these tiny human parasites though and why should they concern you? What has the media and others so worked up about these specific insects instead of more traditional spiders or anything else? It most likely stems from the fact that they are so easily transmitted from one location to another.
A bedbug can work in a team with others or even by itself to cause a number of health effects that range from skin rashes, psychological effects or allergic symptoms. For thousands of years these creatures have persisted and even grown stronger by some accounts as we commonly target things we can see like ants and the above mentioned spiders instead of the things we can't.
Dozens of methods have been developed and tested to help you avoid falling victim to these nearly invisible insects but yet there is no one single solution to deal with the seemingly growing infestation. Some have attributed it to an uptick in foreign travel as people bring them home after vacation, others have blamed it on the purchase of second-hand furniture.
You should always inspect your hotel room when you arrive. Look closely at things like bedding, the seams of mattresses, headboards, the edges of carpets and even curtains and blinds. What are you looking for? It sounds gross but things like blood stains, live insects, caste skins and even eggs.
Never put your luggage or your clothes directly onto the bed. In fact this is how many infestations are transmitted from one location to another. Instead, use the luggage stand that almost every hotel provides and preferably one that is metal. Studies have shown that bedbugs cannot easily crawl onto metal surfaces but be mindful to keep that rack away from walls and wooden furniture.
If you really want to get paranoid then you can pack all of the items inside your suitcase into smaller plastic bags which can prevent bedbugs who find their way into your luggage from getting on your clothes and by transport into your home. You could even carry a huge plastic sheet to enclose your entire luggage while you sleep if no metal luggage rack exists in the room.
Consider that almost every reputable hotel has probably implemented some type of bedbug checking program. After all, they have no desire to see their hotel on CNN or any other network being labeled as the source of the latest infestation.
There are of course a number of commercial solutions that these hotels can employ to ward off bedbugs and probably the most common is a simple pest control professional like you would use at home. New companies are popping up all the time though to take advantage of the media related hype.
Take for example, Advanced K9 Detectives, a company located in Berkeley, CA. By all accounts they are the first company in the United States to offer certified bedbug locating dogs and cover major cities like New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington, DC. It may sound a little silly at first but this method has been proven to work and it is often marginally cheaper than other solutions.
Not only that but it can be a huge time saver as well. Traditional exterminations can takes hours just to inspect one location while dogs can use smell to detect the bedbugs in crevasses much more quickly. In fact a huge number of hotels are using the service and you might not even know it.
Either way, when it comes to avoiding these unsightly insects on the road you should always practice the simple steps outlined above. Many times by taking 5 minutes to check the areas we mentioned above or even asking the hotel what precautions they have taken, you can rest easier at night and avoid playing your part in the continuing spread of bedbugs.
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