I’m going to share with you how we ended up with bedbugs after our honeymoon (what a way to start off marriage!) and offer some tips to help you from making the same mistakes we did. I’m no expert and my tips certainly are not 100% bedbug proof, but they should help you avoid an infestation. Believe me, some cautionary prevention is smart because trying to get rid of them is stressful and can cost you lots of money. We tried sprays and powders and countless other advertised ways to kill them off but it took us an entire year to completely get rid of them. Those suckers are tough.
Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!
I used to think that was a silly little rhyme for kids, but I know better now. I hate that saying now! It makes my skin crawl and reminds me of the awful bites I had covering my body: hands, fingers, arms, legs. It was terrible because we didn’t know what was causing them (my husband had considerably fewer bites than I) and our first trip to a dermatologist resulted in him dismissing our question about bedbug bites.
“You can’t see them,” he declared when my husband said he found a small beetle like bug under his pillow. “Bedbugs don’t exist,” he said. (He was wrong..)
Okay, well, maybe there were fewer instances of them for many years until we encountered them in 2006… just as they seemed to be on the rise again. Once we knew we had them, we were able to start tackling the problem. However, we were both extremely embarrassed. I tried to cover up my bites (and allergic reactions I was having TO the bites) and we didn’t want people over. We weren’t dirty, disgusting people so how could this happen to us?!
Ahh yes, luggage. Especially luggage mingling with international traveler’s suitcases while on our honeymoon. We won’t ever know if it was from the cruise, the hotel, or just from the airport handling. But it was most definitely the luggage that was the key….
5 Tips for Protecting Yourself From Bedbugs While Traveling
1 – Never pack or unpack your suitcase on your bed or in your bedroom!
This was our #1 mistake. We used to always have the suitcase on our bed while packing or unpacking. We made it so easy for our little hitch hikers to also unpack into our mattress and boxspring.
2 – Leave your luggage in your car for 24 hours if you can.
In hotter weather this is a great way to heat everything up and hopefully kill off your buggy passengers. They won’t starve to death that quickly though. They can, surprisingly, live for long periods of time without you to feast on.
3 – Unpack in your basement or laundry room – preferably someplace far from your bed or couch and without carpeting.
Those buggers will make nests in your living room furniture if they have to as well as in outlets and along the crack of where carpet meets wall. They want to be where there is a food source, so don’t let them get cozy where you do. We now take our luggage straight downstairs so we can put clothes into the wash and store our suitcases down there until our next trip.
4 – Use an allergy cover for your boxspring.
And tape that zipper shut! If they are in it already, they’ll be trapped. Otherwise it’ll be hard for them to live under your bed. This was part of our plan of attack on them (that worked). But it’s a good preventative measure as well.
5 – Check for signs of bedbugs at hotel and at home.
They are hard to see, especially during the day. Light scares them off, but they aren’t invisible. They are little yucky brown looking bugs. Well, they look brownish if they’ve been fed recently, otherwise they are more clear. So, what you are looking for are reddish-brown dots or smears along the edge of the mattress, under it or under the boxspring. The larger the infestation, the easier it is to see the signs, but the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to fight back. (The dots are their waste which is mixed with blood. So gross.) Also, there is this sickly sweet smell you might detect.
Besides checking the beds, keep an eye on YOU. If you start to notice odd bites when you wake up that itch like mosquito bites, take a closer look. They are usually small bites that tend to be in clusters of three (breakfast, lunch, dinner). They may be in a straight line, but not always. Since I’m very susceptible to mosquito bites, I didn’t think much of it at first. But, then more and more bites would appear and hubby started getting them too.
I’m not trying to scare you. I just want to help others avoid the hellish year we endured due to bedbugs. You don’t have to be paranoid, just take a few steps of precaution.