How to avoid bed bugs while travelling
The little biters are back, here's how to dodge them
They're about the size of an apple seed, come out at night and feast on your blood. The bed bug is marching to a hotel room near you. Some travellers have even been bitten on cruise ships and long-haul flights. Why are they back? Some experts think it's due to the fact that we're travelling more, temperatures, in general, are warmer and the harsher chemicals that kept them at bay have now been banned. Follow Cheapflights' advice to avoiding the little critters.
Before you travel, check out your accommodation on hotel ratings websites. Smaller, budget, hotels are more likely to host bedbugs it's true, but guests at four and five-stars have woken up with red, itchy bumps too.
Get the right luggage. Bed bugs love crevices and creases, all the better for them to burrow down and wait for night to fall. Choose a hard-sided piece of luggage. Smooth surfaces mean fewer opportunities for bed bugs to burrow down.
When you arrive, put your luggage in the bath, and inspect the room. Pay attention to the mattress and headboard of the bed and if there's a sofa in your room, check that too. You're looking for tiny black dots (bed bug faeces) and little cast-off skins. You might also catch a hard-to-define smell, some say it's sickly-sweet, when you walk in the room. If you find them, tell the concierge immediately, find an alternative hotel and ensure you get all the details so you can get a refund on your room.
For the flight, you could buy your own seat covers - or use a travel sheet - and have your luggage wrapped in plastic (lots of airports offer baggage-wrapping services). Bringing your own pillow and blanket is another option. Lay them down on the seat and make sure you have a sealed bag to put them in at the end of the flight. They're a couple of the items you will be loading straight into your washing machine when you return home. Try not to put your clothes in the overhead bin where they may be close to fellow passengers' coats and jackets. Stuffing them into your hard-sided piece of carry-on luggage for the duration of your flight is a better idea.
If you have come into contact with bedbugs on your stay, don't bring your suitcase into your house. If they're lurking in the seams and folds of your backpack, you'll face an expensive time getting rid of them. Store it in a large bin liner until you can get it - and its contents - washed and dried in very hot water or dry cleaned.
If you haven't - or think you haven't - unpack straight into a washing machine. And start a hot wash. It's a good idea to place your dirty laundry in a sealed plastic bag so that anything that may be on the clothes, stays on the clothes.
Updated April 2013