How To Look For Bed Bugs In Hotels & Hostels

Ok, this might not be the most glamorous blog post that I have ever written, but it’s a necessary one. Bed bugs in hotels or hostels can be a traveler’s worst nightmare. But no need for panic. The experience can be avoided.

The first thing you need to know about bed bugs is that you can find them in any hotel or hostel. Don’t think that only the ‘shady’ ones have them. My first and only encounter (and thank God for that) with bed bugs was in a reputable hotel, in the heart of Paris.

The second thing that you need to know about them is that these little ‘biters’ are highly resistant and getting rid of them is not an easy task.

Once you have found them or even worse once you’ve been bitten, you must immediately take some measures. It gets even worse if you are bitten and you discover that you are allergic to their bites. I wasn’t, but my friend was. The areas where she was bitten got swollen and the bite marks were still on her body weeks after the encounter.

Another friend got contaminated in Italy and because bed bugs travel around with you (yes, they love to travel too), unknowingly, she took them home. Two weeks and 1000£ for an exterminator later, she finally got rid of them.

Not to sound paranoid but remember: bed bugs travel with people and most people don’t even know that they have them, so they end up in hotels and other places as well.

So, do your homework and look for bed bugs before you get cozy in your new hotel room.

Here is how to look for bed bugs in hotels and hostels:

  1. Know how a bedbug looks: they are oval, small but they can grow up to 5cm , so visible to the naked eye. They have no wings, 6 legs and they are flat. The ‘baby’ bed bugs leave around shells as they mature. The shells are brown, somehow transparent.
  2. Leave your suitcase OUT of your room when checking for bed bugs or put it in the shower/bathtub.
  3. Check everything in the bed. Rip it apart. Look at the mattresses. Look at the box spring. If the bed has a headboard that slids off, take it off and look at it, see if any nasty crawlers call it their home.
  4. Check the lamps, check the bulbs, check the carpet.
  5. They don’t nest, they just scatter around so look for rusty spots on sheets, courtains, walls.

How to spot them:

how to look for bed bugs

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Here is what to do if you do get bitten and ‘contaminated’:

  1. If you’ve been bitten, go to the pharmacy. They usually have creams for this and some meds that alleviate the itching. Keep in mind that the creams are not always effective, so you will probably have to live with the bites for a while.
  2. What’s very annoying about the little biters is that they are highly resistant.
    But if they contaminated your clothes and luggage, whatever you do, don’t bring them home. You will be royally screwed for months.
    Here are a few options to get rid of them:
    a) wash all your clothes in super hot water and dry them really hot to kill everything. Dry everything twice – once on normal and once, for at least 30 minutes at the highest temperature setting.
    b) use Diatomaceous Earth (powder) on your luggage and clothes – it will dehydrate them.
    c) if you can’t do any of that and you don’t want to throw away your things, wrap them in plastic before bringing them home. Once you get home, keep them outside for as long as you can and inspect each and every one of them before bringing them in.
    d) be very careful about using bug spray and other chemical agents as it will cause them to run, hide and spread.

Did you ever have a ‘close encounter’ with bed bugs?

Share your experience!

how to look for bed bugs

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    • Michele Peterson
    • October 21, 2016
    Reply

    I got bitten to pieces by bed bugs while volunteering in Honduras and had no idea what was going on. The bites lasted for weeks and even left scars. Fortunately I figured it out after a few weeks of torment but wish I’d read an article like yours first. I always look when I arrive at a hotel now.

  1. Reply

    Such a useful post! I got bitten by bedbugs once when I was travelling in the metro…imagine my plight 🙁
    Bedbugs are issues in many budget accommodations …which is such a pity. It just makes so much sense to check for them before you take the room!

      • Maria
      • November 11, 2016
      Reply

      Yes, I have hears stories from people that picked them up while traveling by train. Sometimes it feels like you can never be too careful!

    • Munchkin Treks
    • November 10, 2016
    Reply

    This is useful information. I wish I had read something like this when I was backpacking around Europe in my 20s and staying at hostels. I will spend more time looking for bed bugs in hotels in the future!

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