Travel Tips–Hotel’s Unwanted Guests

I recently went online to research hotels for an upcoming trip to Chicago. I found a hotel in a great location with a price that seemed too good to be true. So before I booked my reservation I visited some websites that provided user reviews of that particular hotel. I was shocked to read that many guests had experienced bug problems in their hotel rooms. While I understand that a report about one hotel does not mean the issue wasn’t isolated to one room, or that hotel management hasn’t since exterminated, but it still raised concerns for me. Frankly, it gave me the “willies” and motivated me to research tips on what travelers can do to make sure they are not sharing a hotel room with a family of bugs.

1. Before jumping into bed, do a spot check. Peel back the sheets and check the mattress, running your fingers along the upper and lower seams. Make sure to check the mattress tag; bed bugs often hide there.

2. Experts recommend removing and examining the headboard if possible. Check for tiny black spots (excrement) that are smaller than poppy seeds. You may also see translucent light brown skins or, in the case of an infestation— live bugs.

3. If you see powder in the drawers of a nightstand or on the headboard, it is likely that the room has already been treated for bed bugs by an exterminator.

4. Keep suitcases off the floor. Elevate them on a luggage stand.

5. When you pack to leave, inspect your luggage carefully. Check every item before putting it into your suitcase, look for bugs–dead or alive. Once you are home, wash your clothes in hot water and detergent follow by drying on low heat for at least 20 minutes. (The method is recommended for killing all bed bugs.) Also, consider sealing personal items inside plastic storage bags. It helps prevent bed bugs from being carried out of the hotel and home with you.

6. If you detect bed bugs, request another room, making sure to inform hotel management about the bug problem.

7. Finally, moving to a different room doesn’t guarantee that you are out of the woods. You should repeat the thorough inspection of any new or different room you are offered.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.