Traveling? How to Quickly Check Your Hotel Room for Bed Bugs

By Chris Williams on August 30, 2010.

Q. We’re getting ready to take a vacation. How do we make sure our rooms don’t have bed bugs?

A. The risk that your hotel room is infested depends on where you’re staying. Most reputable hotels work hard to keep their rooms bed bug free. But you can never be 100% sure. The people who checked out just before you checked in could have left some “friends” behind. So even if you’re staying in the best hotel, you need to take some precautions. Check online before you leave home to see if your hotel has a history of complaints. Search on “bed bugs hotels” and you will find many websites that provide listings of problem hotels.

When you first check into your room, place your bags in the middle of the floor away from the beds, or in the bathroom. Now, check around the bed for bed bugs, shed skins, or the small, dark brown spots of excreted blood and “poop” that bed bugs leave behind. Here’s how. Pull back the covers from the head of the bed, then peel back the bottom sheet to uncover the mattress about 3 feet from the headboard. Check in and around the rolled seams in the mattress and boxspring. Next, inspect for bugs and spotting around the outside perimeter edge of the headboard, looking at the narrow space between the headboard and the wall. Use a flashlight if you have one.

Such a “bed check” will usually find bed bugs if the room is heavily infested. It’s much more difficult to find bed bugs in light infestations. You may want to expand your inspection to bedside furniture, baseboards near the bed, the dust ruffle, etc., especially if the place you are staying in isn’t strictly “top-of-the-line.”

If you find any evidence of bed bugs, insist on a new room or move to another hotel. Do NOT stay in that room. Bed bugs are good hitchhikers. If you stay in an infested room, the bugs might crawl into your suitcase and possessions, and hide there until you return home. Not a pleasant thought!

Photo credit: MoToMo / Foter / CC BY-SA

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