Summer travel plans? Prevent bed bugs when traveling

Krissie Callahan

Bed bugs. Those two words strike fear into the heart of business operators and homeowners. Rightfully so, according to new survey results.

New research conducted in 2018 by the National Pest Management Association reveals that the majority of pest control providers in North America – nearly 70% – say bed bug work is increasing. Over half of pest control providers say that they receive the most calls in the summer months.

Why summer? There are more people traveling during the summer due to summer vacations, so there is an increased likelihood that bed bugs will be introduced to hotel properties, Airbnb properties, hostels summer camps, and even places such as movie theatres and libraries – and that also increases the chances that people could take them home.

Bed bugs can infest anywhere there is a regular meal source – humans! – to feed on. While bed bugs don’t spread disease, they can inflict itchy welts when they bite. A large percentage of the population, however, does not react to bed bug bites, making it less likely that someone could notice a problem and accidentally take them home with them. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, and all it takes is one bed bug to hitch a ride on a bag or personal item for them to be introduced to a home.

Contrary to what many people think, you can actually see bed bugs. Adult bed bugs are approximately 1/4-inch long by 1/8-inch wide; about the size of an apple seed. They are reddish brown in color, but may appear to be redder just after feeding. Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are visible but hard to see. They can be as small as 1/32-inch.

If you (or a family member) are traveling this summer, you’ll want to stay vigilant against bed bugs. With a few easy steps, you can prevent bed bugs from making their way into your home.


  • Place your luggage, including briefcases and computer bags, on non-upholstered furniture away from the bed, such as a desk. If using a luggage rack, inspect it for bed bugs.
  • Pull back the corners of bedding on the bed and check the mattress and box spring for bed bugs. Pay special attention to seams, where bed bugs like to hide. If you notice black marks on the mattress, that could be an indication of a problem.
  • Inspect the night stand for signs of bed bugs.
  • If you believe your room or sleeping area has bed bugs, let the front desk, rental agency, or property manager know and ask for a different room. If in a hotel, ask for a room that is not a neighboring room or directly above or below the room with the bed bugs.


  • Before bringing them inside, inspect your luggage for bed bug.. Don’t forget the seams and edges.
  • Before laundering them, place all your clothing from the baggage in the clothes dryer for 15 minutes on high heat, even if you didn’t wear them. Heat is a proven method for killing bed bugs.

If you have encountered a bed bug problem at your business, Rentokil Steritech has solutions to help quickly eliminate the problem. You can also download our free sheet of helpful Bed Bug Management tips.

Facing bed bugs at your residence or have an employee with a sensitive issue at home? Our regional companies, Ehrlich, Presto-X, and Western Exterminator can provide treatments. Visit any of our websites for further information.

Krissie Callahan
Krissie Callahan

As the Communications Manager for Rentokil North America, Krissie specializes in writing, editing, and shaping both internal and marketing messages for the company. When she's not at work, you can usually find her taking in a live music performance in her hometown of Charlotte, NC.

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