Are you one of the millions Americans traveling this summer?
In addition to packing up that travel size shampoo, sunscreen and flip flops, you might want to bring along a small flashlight and your own sleep sack.
This summer, Airlines for America is predicting a 4 percent increase in U.S. airline travel, and if you’re flying the friendly skies or shacking up in a hotel that means there’s a much greater chance of encountering bed bugs during the warmer months, according to experts from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
“Bed bugs are very hardy, elusive pests, making them difficult to control, especially inside travel accommodations where they can spread from room to room,” Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs at NPMA, said in a press release.
“Given the growing pest control concern around bed bugs and the fact that they are so easily spread through travel, it’s important that people properly protect themselves now that peak travel season is here.”
So how can you prevent getting bitten by one of these pesky pests—or, even worse—accidentally bringing them home with you?
The NPMA recommends bringing a flashlight along to help you inspect any crevices or hotel spaces on the road.
Before you unpack, thoroughly check the bed sheets, mattress seams and box springs for any telltale signs of bedbug activity: dark, mottled spots, shed skins and the bugs themselves. Storing your suitcase in a large, plastic trashbag may also prevent bedbugs from finding their way into your luggage and going for a ride back home.
If you see any signs at all, vacate the room immediately and notify hotel staff. Consider switching to another property if management isn’t willing to do a thorough inspection of your next room.
Once you get back, don’t just put everything back in your drawers. Travelers should consider vacuuming suitcases inside and out and also wash all clothes in hot water to kill any bed bugs or eggs.
“The bottom line is that vigilance is key to bed bug prevention, so it’s important for people to be conscientious of all surroundings,” added Mannes.
Bed bugs are also found in other well trafficked places including retail stores and public transportation so it never hurts to take a quick peek at your seat before settling in.