Travel Tips to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home

Dr. Harold Harlan © Armed Forces Pest Management Board (with permission)

Bed bugs are often picked up on luggage, backpacks and other personal belongings while traveling, especially on international trips. Following some simple precautions can help you avoid bringing hitchhiking bed bugs back to your home.

  • Before making travel plans, consider checking on-line databases reporting bed bug infestations in hotels and other businesses, such as or Call the hotel and ask them if they have a bed bug prevention program.
  • Acquaint yourself with what bed bugs look like, where they hide and signs of infestation.
  • If possible choose hard sided luggage that can be wiped down or soft suitcases that can be washed and dried, like duffel bags or backpacks.

  • Pack clothing that can easily be laundered.
  • Pack plastic garbage bags for your dirty clothes and for sealing luggage and other items in. Consider buying dissolvable laundry bags for items you will be washing.
  • Leave your luggage in the bathroom of your hotel room while you check the area around the bed for signs of infestation. Check the sheets for small blood stains and then pull back the sheets and blankets and check the mattress seams, corners and tags for signs of bed bugs, eggs, fecal spotting or cast skin. (See photos.)
  • Check around the edges of the headboard and the joints of bedside furniture for any signs. (A small flashlight comes in handy for this.)

  • If you find signs of bed bugs, ask the manager for another room. One that is not next to (or above or below) the infested room.
  • If everything is clear, check the luggage rack (especially around the webbing and joints for signs of bed bugs). Keep your luggage on the rack instead of on the bed or floor.
  • Keep your clothing in your luggage instead of unpacking it into drawers. Keep personal items sealed in plastic bags in your luggage or in the bathroom.
  • Consider hanging suits, coats, dresses, etc. on the shower rod in the bathroom.
  • If you still have concerns, keep your luggage sealed inside a plastic garbage bag when not in use.
  • Before putting your suitcases in your car, seal them tightly in large plastic bags.
  • Keep everything sealed in bags until you are able to wash, dry or otherwise disinfest them.
  • Carefully inspect any items that cannot be cleaned for bed bugs before bringing them into your house.
  • Wipe down hard sided luggage or wash soft luggage and place in sealed bags until your next trip.