6 Tricks for Preventing Bedbugs on Vacation

The last thing you want when you return from a trip is to deal with a major infestation.

If you’re finally heading out on a much-needed vacation, be cautious when opening the hotel door—you don’t want to end up with an extra souvenir in your bag on the way home. Travelers need to be cautious about bed bugs when staying in a hotel room, and the American Academy of Dermatology consulted with board-certified dermatologist Theodore Rosen, M.D., to find out where bedbugs lurk, and how to eliminate them for good.

Like lice, a bedbug infestation does not mean you have an unclean home. Often a case of bedbugs is an unfortunate case of bad luck. “People associate bedbugs with filth, but a bedbug infestation doesn’t mean you’re dirty,” Rosen said in a statement. “Anyone can get bedbugs, no matter how clean or careful they are.” Below, Rosen’s tips for safe (and hopefully bug-free) travels.


Check the room—especially the corners.

Photo by JSmith/Getty Images

According to Rosen, bedbugs tend to settle in corners and other areas at a 90-degree angle (think: inside of drawers). He also suggests travelers check areas within three feet of the bed, like the mattress, box spring, bedframe, and inside the nightstand. What should people look for? The bugs are tiny, but signs they’re present include small bloodstains, tiny seed-sized eggs, and the transparent shells or exoskeletons.


Be smart when you unpack.

Rosen suggests that people store luggage far away from the bed, and place suitcases on dresser surfaces instead of the floor. He also suggests hanging clothes in the closet instead of folding them in the drawers, since bedbugs may infest a drawer. Plus: Don’t even sit on the bed, or place anything on the bed, until you’re sure it’s bug-free.


Alert management immediately.

If you’ve seen (or suspect you’ve seen) bedbugs in the room, move all of your luggage and belongings out of the room immediately and request another. Make sure the new room is not adjacent to your old room, or on the floors immediately above or below.


Once you’ve returned home, start washing.

If you’re nervous that bedbugs came home with you, or want to be extra-safe, wash and dry your clothes immediately on the hottest settings, says Rosen. Additionally, vacuum and steam the inside of your luggage. Pest control leader Orkin suggests putting all dryer-safe clothing, luggage, and other belongings in the machine for at least 15 minutes.


If you have bedbugs, call a professional.

The best way to completely eliminate the bugs from your home is through exterminators, who use traps, insecticides, and other methods to kill the pests.


Treat bug bites with a topical corticosteroid.

If you wake up in the morning with bites—they’ll usually be itchy, red, swollen clusters—you can treat the itchiness with a cream from your doctor or dermatologist. On the positive side, you won’t catch a disease from the bugs.

“The worst effects of a bedbug infestation are usually psychological rather than physical,” Rosen said. “People don’t like having something that bites them in their home.”

Read more of our tips on how to degerm any hotel room.