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Bed Bugs: Save Time and Money and Avoid a Home Infestation

By (view all posts by SavingsIQ)
at 8:55AM Monday December 19, 2011
under Newsworthy

The holiday season is in full swing and many of you are traveling during this busy time. In the hustle and bustle of making plans and booking flights and hotels, you may overlook one small issue.

Bed bugs.

These small parasites can be found anywhere from motels to five-star hotels. People often have the misconception that bed bugs only reside in cheap motels, but the truth is bed bugs just need to hitch a ride on an unsuspecting human in order to find a new home.

A recent study showed that bed bugs take longer to find a place to bite on hairy arms vs. non-hairy arms. However, this doesn't mean that people who have hair won't get bitten. They just have more time to escape. If all this bed bug talk is starting to gross you out, here are some preventative measures you can take to prevent an infestation in your home.
Research Hotels

I know that booking hotels can be a hassle, especially with all the different rates and restrictions. But taking the time to do your research can save you tons of time, money and stress later on. Founded in 2006, The Bedbug Registry has done most of the grunt work for you. Just go to their site, type in the hotel name, city and state and get reports submitted from actual customers of the hotel. I entered in a five-star New York hotel and was surprised to see four reports of bed bugs! I also saw a response from the hotel's general manager addressing the issue and promising no room will be sold without a clean bill of health from the pest control company. This is reassuring to me because it shows that the hotel does care about providing the best lodging for people.

Just to be fair, I also looked up a motel and found 6 bug reports and no one from the motel responding to them. Goes to show that sometimes you do get what you pay for. Another thing you can do is check reviews on travel sites or even Yelp. I tend to trust reviews that come from real people which is Yelp's motto.

Protecting Yourself at Hotel

Let's say you did your due diligence and picked a hotel with no reported bed bugs. Once you check into your room, you should still look around before getting comfortable. Place your luggage on a luggage rack away from the nooks and crannies that these critters like to live in. Check under the sheets and pillows, behind the bed frame, under the box spring, sides of the mattress, in between the couches and also behind paintings and mirrors. Sounds like a lot of work, but it really takes a few minutes. You can also enlist some help from your kids.

If you find a bug, immediately call management and work it out. Every hotel is different in terms of policy, so call them and don't try to kill the bugs yourself. Killing one could mean there are lots more hiding out nearby.

Arrival at Home

If you were unlucky enough to inherit some bugs on the trip home, there are some steps you need to take:

First, make sure you leave your luggage outside in the garage or on the balcony if you have one.

Then, unpack everything and wash all your clothes in HOT water and dry it in the dryer for a few hours on high. This will kill the bed bugs.

Vacuum and steam clean the luggage as thoroughly as you can before putting it away.

If you do these preventative measures as soon as you get home, you will save yourself from an infestation which could cost thousands of dollars. You don't want the bugs to spread to the walls, hallways and other properties like it did to one property manager in San Francisco. She ended up having to pay over $40,000 to clean up the mess not including $9,000 to a tenant who threatened to sue. Like most pest problems, nipping it when you first notice it is always best.

Be smart, don't let the bed bugs bite.

Have you ever been a victim of bed bugs? What are some ways you prepare for travel during the holidays?