Bed bugs, small as an apple seed but sharp-toothed as a vampire, have been in the news lately. Covering one hotel guest in London in small, angry welts, some travellers have encountered them on long-haul flights and on cruise ships too. We thought the bed bug had been consigned to the history book so why are we hearing more about them these days? (Our featured image is by matt semel.)

We’re travelling more for one thing, taking more flights and staying in different types of accommodation around the world. Some experts believe that warmer global temperatures are having a positive effect on bed bug populations. Finally, those very harsh chemicals, such as DDT, that used to keep bed bug populations down are no longer used.



How to avoid the little critters? Follow these steps:

Read up!

Look up your accommodation on hotel ratings websites and sites such as and

It’s true that you have more chance of meeting bed bugs in small, budget hotels and hostels but they don’t discriminate. Guests at four and five-star establishments have woken up with red, itchy bites too.

Buy the right type of luggage

Bed bugs love to burrow down in soft luggage full of crevices and creases. Deny them a soft place to sleep by buying a hard-sided suitcase. Smooth, hard surfaces make for fewer places for bed bugs to set up home.

Check out your room

When you arrive at your accommodation, place your luggage in the bath, and take a few minutes to check out the room. Sniff the air. There’s a certain smell in a room that’s infested with bed bugs, some describe it as “sickly-sweet”.

Inspect the mattress and headboard…

… of the bed and the sofa too, if there’s one in your room. What you’re looking for are tiny black dots (faeces) and cast-off skins. Remember, they’re as small as an apple seed.

If you find anything, tell staff immediately, find alternative accommodation and ensure you get all the details (take photos if you can) so you can claim a refund on your room.

On the plane…

Use a travel sheet – or buy your own seat covers – and use a luggage-wrapping service (lots of airports do this) and it will help you arrive bite-free.

Bringing your own pillow and blanket is another option. Lay them across your seat and make sure you have a sealable bag to put them in at the end of the flight. They’re some of the items you will be loading straight into your washing machine when you return home.

Avoid the overhead bin

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.

Leave your suitcase outside

If you’re worried that you have encountered bed bugs on your travels, don’t bring your suitcase into your house immediately.

If the bugs are lurking in your luggage, you’ll face an expensive time getting rid of them. Store your bags in a large bin liner until you can get them – and their contents – washed and dried in very hot water. Dry cleaning will also get rid of bed bugs.

Put on a hot wash

If you haven’t – or think you haven’t – come into contact with bugs unpack your bag straight into the washing machine. And start a hot wash. It’s always a good idea to pack sealable plastic bags for dirty laundry as anything that may be on the clothes, stays on the clothes.

About the author

Oonagh ShielContent Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!

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