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If you’ve been planning to travel for the longest time, the last thing you want is to get infested with bedbugs.

These dreadful parasitic insects are tiny and brownish in color. They exclusively feed on blood and are especially drawn to human blood. Since they prefer feeding during the night, they notoriously cause sleepless nights among residents.

Failing to take appropriate measures puts you at a higher risk of carrying bed bugs back home. Rather than incurring the high cost to letting bed bugs hitchhike home with you, take suitable steps to steer clear of these parasites during and after your travel.

5 Tips For Avoiding Bed Bugs While Traveling

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Inspect Your Room Carefully

Before unpacking your luggage and jumping onto the hotel bed, check your room carefully to avoid this unsightly creepy crawlies. Check if they are using bed bug proof mattress covers.

Look out for tiny brown bugs that are similar to small cockroaches. When you squish them, they emit a pungent smell and appear reddish.

Inspect the corners of your bed and the edges of your mattress before settling in. you can also examine the curtains and carpets for bed bugs. If you find them, request for another room or check into a different hotel.

Place Your Luggage on an Elevated Surface

After inspecting your room carefully to ensure it is safe, avoid keeping your bags on the floor. Placing your luggage directly on the ground allows bed bugs travelling from other rooms to access your luggage more easily.

Remember, these ghastly bugs could be brought in by other travelers visiting the hotel. One good idea you could implement is placing your bags atop a dresser or upon a luggage rack.

Check Your Car Seats for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are hardy creatures that thrive in the toughest conditions. They can live in the seat of your rental car, cab, train or aircraft. So before heading out, inspect your seat.

If you spot small, black dots trailing along the surface of your seat, request for a different seat. These dots are primarily feces left behind by bedbugs. Rent a different vehicle or move to a different position if travelling by train.

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Wash Your Clothes Before Leaving

When it’s finally time to check out from your hotel room, take a few minutes to wash your clothes. Sure, you’ll probably wash them when you get home, but you could risk carrying some unfriendly bugs home with you.

Bedbugs are highly attracted to suitcases, clothes and dark areas, so it’s easy to take them with you. Soak your clothes in a basin of hot water and use a high heat dryer afterwards. This will kill any bedbugs that manage to cling onto your clothes.

Wrap Your Bags in Airtight Plastics

Since bedbugs love hiding in dark, porous materials, they’ll quickly habituate your luggage and start multiplying there. Here’s a solution: try wrapping your bags with plastic covers when travelling.

Suitcases belonging to other travelers may harbor bed bugs, so it’s important to cover your luggage before getting to the airport. Make prior arrangements to buy sealable plastic bags that can effectively shield your luggage.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. The very idea of bed bugs creeps me out to the core.

    • You and me both! Luckily they’re generally not an issue, but they do exist, so it’s good to get into the habit of checking for them just in case :)

  2. If we’re being honest, generally, bed bugs are more of a nuisance pest than a serious health threat. There is no evidence to indicate that they transmit any infectious disease.

    But these are great tips. Because I’m sure they make many people’s skin crawl.

    • Very true Ailene. Still not keen on having any type of insect feed on my blood lol, but it’s a great point to keep in mind that there are very minimal actual health risks.

  3. What do bed bugs actually look like?

    • They’re a wingless bug with small, flat, oval-shaped bodies, usually around 4–6mm in length. Adults are brown, but they become more of a reddish color after feeding. If you run a quick google image search you’ll be able to identify them no problem down the line :)

  4. I heard that hotels with bed bugs in one room have to shut down their whole floor, and burn all of the linen the bugs were found in. No idea if that’s true, but it makes me feel better thinking it!

    • Not sure on that one, but I agree, it does instill confidence knowing that there are strict procedures in place to deal with any infestations.

  5. Here’s another tip: Spray your suitcase with bug spray / insectocide … this should kill or repel bed bugs that crawl onto your luggage while you’re actually traveling. I actually travel with bug spray in case I need it once I get to a hotel. Call me paranoid but I’ve encountered way too many cockroaches in my day. Haven’t run into bed bugs fortunately.

    • Thanks for the tip Lance – that’s a fabulous idea! Yikes which hotels are you staying at for cockroaches lol I might avoid those!!! :S

  6. We had an infestation at home after we bought second hand furniture. Will never buy a second hand mattress ever again.

    • Yikes – good to know! Yes, mattresses are one thing we’re happy to buy brand new – there’s a certain level of confidence in unwrapping sealed plastic :D

  7. Thanks for this Megan! Your posts are very helpful.

    • You’re welcome Emile :) Happy travels!

  8. Oh my goodness…now I have to worry about other traveller’s baggage infesting my bag with bed bugs while in the luggage compartment of the plane.You just made my day Megan!

    • Sorry!!! It’s not a super common occurrence, but does happen, so I like to just be in the habit of checking and taking preventative measures anyway :)

  9. The idea of bedbugs terrifies me and right now, we’re in the process of booking our accommodations for a summer vacation. So, I’m a tad more paranoid than usual, lol. Thank you for the tips…they make me feel a little better.

    • I’m glad I could make you feel better about it lol I think I’ve actually caused paranoia for some people in publishing this lol! Fortunately they’re really not that common of an occurrence, but it does happen from time to time, so I like to know I’m prepared with what to do in the back of my mind :)

      Hope you have a fabulous trip!

  10. Great. Now I’m completely freaked out about bed bugs. Ha ha! ;-)

    • Sorry!!! Lol it’s not a super common occurrence (thankfully!!), but does happen, so I like to just be in the habit of checking and taking preventative measures anyway :)

  11. Not certain about washing all of my clothes in my hotel room sink! I don’t usually stay in any hotels with a clothes dryer on offer for guests. Maybe if one is likely to come in contact them you should travel with a thick garbage bag, bag up everything put that in your suitcase and wash it as soon as you hit home? When I get home from a trip the clothes get sorted right away to be washed or cleaned. Nothing goes back to my closet from a trip. I also wash the bottoms of all of my shoes, and wipe down my purses and bags.

    • Yes granted I usually keep the hotel sink for emergencies! Traveling with a thick garbage bag is a great idea – we usually travel with plastic bags anyway to place wet or dirty clothes if we need to. And as you’ve said, wash as soon as you get home :) My first stop on entering the house is usually to up turn the suitcase while holding it above the washing machine :D

      Cleaning the bottoms of your shoes and wiping down your purses and bags is a fabulous idea, I’m going to try and start doing that more regularly too :)

    • You’re correct Michelle. Apart from fumigation, and stomping on them, the only thing that kills them is heat/ suffocation. Put all effected items in a garbage bag and put the garbage bag in the sun. I have worked in hostels AND have also been bitten in SE Asia. Washing clothing in the sink will do nothing to stop the spread of them or kill any eggs.

    • Wow! Info from a pro! Thank you so much.

  12. Thank you for another helpful post! Bed bugs are really irritating and as I have skin problem I always make sure my sleeping area is neat and clean.

    • You’re welcome Pooja, I’m glad that it was helpful for you :) Definitely something to be extra cautious about if you have a tendency to break out and react badly to insects.

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