There’s nothing quite like arriving at your hotel, dumping your suitcase (and yourself) on the bed, and immediately feeling like you’re on vacation. Don’t you agree that it’s completely natural and acceptable? As it turns out, though, there’s something seriously off about that equation, at least according to the experts. In particular, the point where you throw your bag on the bed.
To your surprise, the bed isn’t the most convenient place to store your bags during a hotel visit. Also, on the ground. Or even crammed into a closet on a suitcase rack. The savviest travelers, however, know to keep their bags in the hotel’s bathroom, or even better, in the bathtub.
The Benefits of Leaving Your Suitcase in the Hotel Tub
The explanation is less complicated than you may imagine; nonetheless, it still has the potential to give you the creeps: bed bugs. These microscopic creatures feed on human blood while concealing themselves in soft furnishings like mattresses and sofas. (It sounds like a scene from a horror film, doesn’t it?) And if they’re in the room, they won’t think twice about making the short hop from the bed to your suitcase, and then onto your clothes.
According to National Pest Management Association staff entomologist Dr. Brittany Campbell, “travelers should avoid placing their luggage on upholstered surfaces and the bed when they arrive at their destination,” because bed bugs are most commonly found on mattresses, box springs, and in the crevices of furniture and inside upholstery (NPMA).
Campbell suggests keeping your bags in the bathroom while traveling because they are much less likely to be infested there. Luggage can be stored in the bathroom either temporarily while a full inspection of the room is made for bed bugs, or permanently. (If you forget your luggage in the tub and get in the shower, remember to retrieve it first. Possible Negative Outcomes)
Where’s the Problem with a Luggage Rack?
According to Campbell, there is nothing inherently improper with utilizing a baggage rack for luggage, since it is preferable to setting your suitcase on a bed or chair, but only if you have first given it a full inspection.
Campbell advises against utilizing racks with hollow legs due to the presence of bed bugs in such spaces. For extra safety, you can keep your luggage inside plastic garbage bags for the length of the journey. When not in use, keep your bags sealed in plastic to keep the bed bugs out.
Why Should You Be Concerned About Hotel Bed Bugs?
In case you’re scratching your head at the prospect of bed bugs lurking in your hotel room, you’re not alone. That’s because, as the NPMA’s 2018 Bugs Without Borders report found, the vast majority of bed bug infestations happen in people’s homes. However, the study also uncovered this bit of trivia: Sixty-eight percent of people who were treated for bed bugs reported having been in a hotel or motel at the time they were bitten. The explanation for this is obvious: bedbugs enjoy road trips. (As much as you, if not more so.)
Bed bugs may spread to just about any indoor environment where people congregate, according to Campbell. And, yeah, they’ll fit well in your trusty suitcase for the trip back home.
She explains that people should check their belongings as soon as they enter any new place, including home share rentals, because “bed bugs are extremely skilled hitchhikers due to their capacity to thrive in transient environments,” such as personal luggage or below the seats of cars, buses, and trains. No matter where you sleep, bed bugs are a major problem that you shouldn’t bring back.
The most important thing to remember? It’s always preferable to play it cautious, even if you’re staying at a luxury resort. You may put your mind at ease and avoid a lot of unnecessary tension if you do a bed insect check first thing in the morning.
How to Examine a Hotel Room for Bed Bugs?
If you’re staying at a hotel and suspect you could have a bed bug infestation, there are techniques to check for them immediately. In fact, as you enter your room, Campbell has a mental checklist you may go through.
Pull the sheets back
First, remove the sheets to examine the mattress and box springs closely, paying specific attention to the four corners. You should search for any stains that resemble ink or shed bed bug skins. (Fun fact: bed bugs have to eat blood five times before they reach maturity.)
Examine the rest of the room
Next, you should look around the entire room. Investigate the areas behind and inside of furniture such as headboards, dressers, couch and chair cushions, and under desks and chairs. It’s best to check every possible avenue of inquiry. In the event that you find any suspicious indicators of bed bugs during your search, according to Campbell, you should contact the hotel immediately and request a room change.
If this happens, start the room inspection process over again.
According to Campbell, “bed bugs can migrate and spread via housekeeping carts and even through wall plugs,” so it’s important to make sure your new room isn’t right next to the infested one or directly above or below it.
What to Do If Bed Bugs Are Found in Your Suitcase
Inspect your suitcase outside your home if you have any reason to believe the little creatures have made themselves at home there, whether you think they entered during your hotel stay or not. Wash and dry all of your items on hot cycles, including the ones that haven’t been worn, and give them a quick vacuum before putting them away in a closet or over your garage.
Then, don’t waste any time and contact an established pest treatment company. They’ll be able to deal with any pests that may have made their way into your home and eliminate the issue before it gets out of hand.