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Traveling? Don't bring bedbugs home

Bloodsuckers that travel to your home via your luggage or clothes can end up costing you plenty. Here's how to keep them at bay.

By Karen Datko Jul 6, 2010 4:47PM

Yet another thing to worry about when you're planning a trip: Do the hotels on your itinerary have bedbugs, requiring a  change of reservation? And, if you don't know for sure, what can you do to keep the tiny bloodsuckers -- the size of an apple seed -- from hitching a ride home with you? Ridding your house of bedbugs is costly.

 

It's common knowledge that New York City is engaged in an epic battle with bedbugs -- stores have been closed because of infestation -- but how many people realize how widespread they are? A map at The Bedbug Registry will give you an indication.

 

Plus, a New York City flier (.pdf file) warns, "No hotel is immune from a bedbug infestation." Travelers can unknowingly bring them from home.

Stacey Bradford, who writes about family finances at CBS MoneyWatch, offers detailed instructions on how to keep any bedbugs in the room from infiltrating your stuff. Bradford consulted with entomologist Louis Sorkin, a bedbug specialist.

 

Here are some brief tips:

  • TripAdvisor, The Bedbug Registry and Bedbugger.com can let you know if other travelers have complained. (Bedbugger.com also tells how to say "bedbug" in 30 languages.)
  • Look for bedbugs, blood spots, eggs and waste in the seams of the mattress and at the base of other furniture. If you find them, the hotel should at least offer you a different room.
  • DO NOT let your bags touch the bed or the floor. Keep them in the bathtub. And leave your clothing in the suitcase.
  • Store dirty laundry in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Wash your clothes as soon as you get home. Heat kills these pests, Bradford said, so a hot dryer setting is best if possible. Dry cleaning also works.

What to do if bedbugs travel home with you? (You'll know from the itchy red spots caused by the nocturnal bites when they feed on your blood. Luckily the bites don't spread disease.) A bedbug infestation is not for do-it-yourselfers. Only an experienced professional should handle this job. It's pricey -- $500 a room is not unusual -- and insurance won't pick up the tab.

We wish we could say we were making this up, but it's serious, and bedbugs aren't the only threat. A friend of ours once got scabies from a hotel room.

In fact, an old ABC News article about hotel room cleanliness (or lack thereof -- the content of the story is gross) is still worth a read. Long story short: Remove the bedspread and use sanitizing wipes on commonly handled objects. And, we'd add, don't walk barefoot in your room.

 

Have you ever dealt with a bedbug infestation? If so, feel free to share your experience.

 

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