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Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. www.indianajo.com is the place where she shares destination details, travel itineraries, planning and booking tips and trip tales. Her aim: to help you plan your travel adventure on your terms and to your budget.

64 Responses

  1. Kari
    Kari at | | Reply

    Hello—
    Last night we were in a hotel room for about an hour. We were in our pajamas sitting on the bed when my husband pulled down the bedding and there was a bed bug! He didn’t move very fast—in fact sat still while he went and got a tissue to catch it in. Did not have our luggage on the bed but on the leather ottoman—off the floor. One sweater did fall on the floor, and had my camera case on the floor.
    Showed the manger and they refunded our room and we left. Put SOME of our clothes in a plastic bag and tied it shut, but didn’t do that with everything. Got to another hotel and I ironed what we had on, put out shoes next to the heater for the night, ironed the outsides off our luggage, my purse and camera bag.
    My biggest question is-being we were only there an hour, how likely is an infestation? We still have over a week of traveling.
    We put the luggage we had in that room on top of another suitcase in our car—could they be in that one now? (Just so you know, the temperature in way below freezing, and we left that other suitcase in the car all night now.)
    Yes, I’m freaking out—the last thing I want to do is bring them home.
    Any advice??

  2. Juan De La Cruz
    Juan De La Cruz at | | Reply

    Went to Tokyo for new year. Few days later noticed a rash on my shoulder. I thought it was a reaction to the detergent as I had the hotel do laundry two days before. On the day I was leaving Japan found someone had posted a review about bed bugs in the hotel 6 days prior. When I got back to the states went to urgent care and the thought it was just a rash but didn’t rule out bed bugs. I left all my stuff in garbage bags on my deck for 3 days went through my suitcase outside and saw nothing. Still left it outside. Until I was forced to bring my stuff in because of a thunder storm. Even though everything was still in trash bags. A few days later started noticing what look like bug bites in a line. Rip my bed room apart and killed something. Called my pest control guy to come do a inspection today, but I can’t sleep, currently doing laundry as I found a blood stain on my pillow. This sucks, I got back on the 8th.

  3. Judy E Taylor
    Judy E Taylor at | | Reply

    Hi everyone. Good news!!!! Area flea spray!!!! I had bed bugs in an an apartment (3 story house)….from my cat who caught a bat and brought it to my bed…yay. I had flea spray for a pets bedding. I had to do something so I tested it out. KILLED INSTANTLY. Do not waste money on an exterminator or fancy bed bug treatments. Flea spray and wash your stuff. TRUE STORY. THE END

  4. GJ
    GJ at | | Reply

    We had a very bad encounter with bedbugs more than a year ago. I know that the general opinion is that they don’t carry disease, but we’ve been coming down with various symptoms since. Mainly joint pain and other inflammatory symptoms, yet we are negative for tick-transmitted boreliosis and other such infections. We just haven’t been the same since.

  5. Merel
    Merel at | | Reply

    We are currently in Laos and found our bed full of bedbugs around 20 minutes after check-in. They changed our room, but I found another one in the new bed. Currently 4am and I refuse to go back to be bed. In the morning we are traveling to another destination. As soon as we get there I guess we just best leave our luggage outside, strip, put everything in plastic bags, bring to the laundry. And then wash the backpacks as well.. I feel like non of my clothes is ‘safe’ anymore but I will need to wear something today…

  6. Sarah
    Sarah at | | Reply

    I stayed at a nice hotel last week and when I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (happens a lot..I’m 7 months pregnant!), I found an engorged bedbug on my sheets. The hotel moved me to a new room, and my belongings were either washed in hot water and dryer on hot, or dryer on hot and then sent to the dry cleaners for more treatment. After I treated my clothes, I got moved to another room just in case I had carried any bugs to the 2nd one. My shoes and the baby blanket I’m knitting are currently in plastic bags in my home freezer. When I got home, I repeated the heat treatment in my home washer/dryer. I was only checked into the infested room for 6 hours before moving, and my luggage was on the desk across the room from the bed. I haven’t gotten any bites since that first night, and haven’t seen any signs of bugs…but I’m feeling super paranoid. As I said, I’m pregnant and setting up my nursery, and am TERRIFIED that I might end up with a home infestation. The hotel said they had the eco lab come and they only found 4 bedbugs in the bed, nowhere else, and that they hadn’t started laying eggs yet. Do you think I’ve done enough to prevent these suckers from taking over my house and making the first months with my baby bedbuggy?

  7. Rachel
    Rachel at | | Reply

    Hi! So i’m staying in a private room in a hostel and last night my friend and I found what looks like a bed bug. We checked our beds and could not find any more. She maybe has 2 bites but they also may be pimples. We had to stay in the room after we noticed them but my question is how to know if my things are ok and bed bug free. I am planning to take all of my clothing to the laundromat to clean and dry before bringing it home. But for things such as postcards, eye contact solution and my water bottle if I don’t see any bed bugs is it safe to bring them back or should I be doing something else? Also I have a leather jacket and leather books that I want to make sure I don’t bring bugs back in but I’m not sure how to clean them. I also had 2 books in my bag but since I was only in the room for 2 nights I’m not sure if I need to worry about these. Thank you so much!

    1. Lori Crews
      Lori Crews at | | Reply

      We have been dealing with bed bugs for a long time. We lived at The Courtyard Inn here in Reno, NV. It is a by the month motel that is going to be closed soon for remodeling. Last Summer, the former manager sprayed our room for bed bugs, but since he didn’t spray adjoining rooms, they came back.
      On November 1, 2019, a new owner and manager took over. We were moved to Renova Flats, a co-housing place that was remodeled and reopened last Summer. It is owned by the Courtyard people. We washed all our clothes.
      As of today, we have been here two weeks, but most of our possessions are back in the old room. Things like a laptop and printer, knic knacks and kitchen supplies. The new manager said they would heat treat before they brought our things to us. I am terrified that they won’t get ALL of these disgusting bugs.

    2. Carol
      Carol at | | Reply

      Thank you for writing about this, Jo. I have been traveling since April of 2018. This past year I have stayed in hostels, hotels and nice homes. Every single place has a bed bug infestation. I have spent hundreds of hours and dollars dealing with it. Now I travel with one small shoulder bag that I can clean and one small bag of toiletries. Every time I leave a place I spend hours cleaning everything, so that I do not carry them with me to the nrxt place. I pour alcohol in my shoes because it will kill all five stages of a bed bugs life. A hot dryer does not kill the babies, nor does a freezer. Anything that does not kill them immediately gives them time to have babies which look like a tiny piece of white paper.

  8. laura
    laura at | | Reply

    Hi ! We really need your help.
    We recently in costa rica suffered a bed bug infestation in a fancy hotel that we carried around for 2 weeks. We washed everything but probably not good enough.
    Finally after a month, we were entirely covered. My partner had 180 bites (the bugs preferred him) and 50 myself. We were so weak from the sleep deprivement and the bites infections that we ended up in the Hospital. They’confirmed it was bed bugs and told us to wash everything again. We went into a cleaning frenzy, moved hotel, washed EVERYTHING Hot and dried hot. (The bags, the vanity case, the clothes…) I personnally boiled the clothes we had on ourselves, and cooked our shoes 200 degrees for 45 minutes. I sprayed our computer and books with DEET. I checked everything as a paranoid girl and never saw a thing. Never saw an egg, never saw a bug. Nothing. (Spent maybe 5 hours total checking). We had some quiet time, moved hotel again, and today (5days later) the bites are back. It is not from the hotel as I checked. Now the bites happen through the day, as if the bugs were in our clothes. I was even bitten on my leg, through the day, when I was wearing mini shorts. Checked the clothes, nothing. We boiled them again, to be sure. We are getting completely mad, especially as we cannot see any of them, and as people have no cure for us but what we already did. What shall we do ? I read 100 websites already and i am powerless. Do you know if there is another specie of bugs that would bite like bed bugs but be invisible ? How could the bed bugs survive the boiling ? We are so helpless, if you have any idea, please let us know. We thank you dearly

  9. Marie
    Marie at | | Reply

    Hello, just got back from traveling..

    I am pretty sure I got attached by bedbugs at one of the favorite hostels I stayed at. I had a bad reaction right away to some bites on my wrist. Thought it was a spider because I had the same kind of reaction from a spider not long ago. I checked the bed area but didn’t know the sign to look for. Within the next few days more bites started to appear on other wrist, my thumbs, and behind my knee is a line of bites.
    Then I researched it and some of those signs were present in the bed when I looked, I just didn’t know. Their were spots on sheets and i think there was a tiny micro bug, the size of a dirt speck that I squished and it was a dark color on the sheet. At the time didn’t know it could have been a bug, though could have been dirt. I wrote to hostel to tell them and they never responded.

    Now I am freaking out a bit. I returned home, left everything in the garage. Bagged it all the next morning.
    My question is not what to do with all the clothes and fabrics. I will wash and dry tomorrow with hot water and air.

    What about my stuff? My papers, makeup, money, books, souvenirs I bought, plastic stuff, money, charges. Etc.. also now I am paranoid about my stuff being in the car when I returned home, myself sitting in the car, before I could bag stuff up. Possibly contaminating the car.

    This morning I saw another micro bug in the bag with all my stuff.. not positive what it was, was so tiny like a dust speck. But worried it was a bedbug.

    I read that you can freeze things for 4 days that can’t be washed, so I am doing that now to some things.
    I am also wiping down my stuff or rinsing with water before I bring it in, like the make up bathroom stuff etc.. no room to freeze all that.

    My husband and I are very sensitive to poisons and stuff like that so poisoning bug spray is not an option for my stuff.

    But I heard a horror story from a friend who had a bedbug infestation in her house and she had to burn everything she had.

    So now I am overly paranoid i think.. worried about all my things , even the ones i wiped down.

    Do you think little micro bugs could still be on my stuff? I know you said you can mostly see them. I’ve never seen a big bug just the two micro ones, at the hostel and today in the plastic bag of stuff- if that’s what they were. And what about a fold up umbrella and stuff like that, could they be hiding in anything?
    I know I sound neurotic but I cannot bring this stuff into my husbands family home.. where I am now. And none of the family understand about bed bugs and already think I am super strange for freezing my stuff and not bring anything inside.
    So I am trying not to be over the top, but feel like the bugs could be everywhere in all my belongings. Please help ease my mind..

  10. KENYA
    KENYA at | | Reply

    Nice post. Bed bugs are real nuisance, I found bed bugs on my stuff in my room we checked in the other day, informed the hostel management and they steamed my belongings and my bed. We stayed another 2 nights there after and I woke up with more bites both nights and found another bug on my mattress the morning we were checking out. We went straight to a laundry and put all that we could through a tumble dryer. Spent last night in a New hostel, and have woken up with a few more bites, do you think these could just be a delayed reaction or do we still have a problem….

  11. Sophia Wilson
    Sophia Wilson at | | Reply

    Worth reading!! Thanks for sharing these great tips!! I will check for the signs of bed bugs presence during my next vacation and will keep myself safe from them. Thanks!!

  12. Freya
    Freya at | | Reply

    I found bed bugs on my stuff in A hostel the other day, informed the hostel and they steamed my belongings and my bed. We stayed another 2 nights there after and I woke up with more bites both nights and found another bug on my mattress the morning we were checking out. We went straight to a laundrette and put all that we could through a tumble dryer. Spent last night in a New hostel, and have woken up with a few more bites, do you think these could just be a delayed reaction or do we still have a problem ?

  13. PAm
    PAm at | | Reply

    I camped in a tent in Botswana 2 nights. First night fine. Woke up after second night in same bed bed and bedding and covered in bites. Why didn’t I get them after first night?

  14. Sweety29
    Sweety29 at | | Reply

    After 5 nights suddenly one evening i founf three itchy buyes on myseld. On inspection i found a dead bed bug (it’s body dry and 2 pieces) in a corner of my hotel room. I immediately changed to another room one level lower. I am scared i might have a bed bug in my bag or suitcase. I read your tip about leaving your bags outside your house. But I live in a small apartment in a building complex so I don’t know where I should keep them. Can I put my entire bags in plastic bags and spray from top first and carefully open the bags inside the plastic bag so that the bugs can’t escape? I have used rubbing alcohol to spray and kill bed bugs in the past. What would you spray them with?

  15. Mon
    Mon at | | Reply

    Hi Jo
    I was unfortunately enough to come accross this awful creatures whilst travelling through South America. I was just wondering what is the bed bug spray that you are recommending to use for your backpack? I went to awful lenghts to find a place to wash and dry my stuff on appropriate temperature and also discarded some of my things. I tought i got rid of them as I didn’t have any new bites for about 5 weeks and didn’t notice any bugs in my belongings. Now I have a few new bites and I am freaking out. I am not even sure if they are bed bugs bites as I was in a jungle so it could be something else. I have washed my stuff again but I can not be sure if it was washed at appropriate temperature.

  16. Monica Chavez
    Monica Chavez at | | Reply

    Thanks for pointing out that heat treatment is one of the most effective ways to deal with bed bugs. My parents discovered some bed bugs in their bed last night, and they’re unsure what to do to solve the problem. Their both so afraid of bugs that there’s not really much they can do to take care of the infestation. I think it would probably be best if they had a professional come out and get rid of the bugs for good. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Burt Silver
    Burt Silver at | | Reply

    It’s interesting that you note that the cleanliness of a person won’t affect your chances of having bed bugs or not. I’ve actually been very curious to know whether or not I have ever had bed bugs, because there have been times when people would tell me to wash my sheets because of bed bugs and I never noticed bed bugs in my sheets during times that my sheets went months without cleaning. Maybe I haven’t noticed and it’s finally time I get in touch with some exterminators.

  18. May
    May at | | Reply

    Great article! I’ve been getting little red spots on my exposed skin after waking up and I suspect it’s bed bugs. Found your website and will definitely try out some of them soon. Thanks again for the sharing!

  19. Dana
    Dana at | | Reply

    Hey,
    thanks for your article, there are not many who write about the topic what happens if you have them. My friend and I are currently staying at a farmstay for work and travel. We had to live in a separated room first, because they had bed bugs and got rid of them with chemical help. But now we’re in those rooms for over 3 weeks and I did see bites again which look like bed bug bites. I guess they are already in our backpacks and clothes right? And you think washing will help? I don’t want to bring them home but is it likely that I miss some at my backpack or that the washing machine and dryer don’t kill al of them? 🙁 thank you

  20. Danielle
    Danielle at | | Reply

    My bed bug bites took 6 weeks to heal. At least I can tell my mother that you cannot get disease from them but it seems strange that with them indiscriminately sucking blood from man and beast they are not capable of passing something on! If that kit from Amazon stops you getting bitten even on one night of you life it is definitely worth it.

  21. Marla Gomez
    Marla Gomez at | | Reply

    Hi, I found some hitchhikers back in first week November last year so immediately destroyed my bed and didn’t sleep in my room until starting today move back in bought a new bed. Every since I covered my floor with baking soda. Do you think the bugs are gone for Good? I hope so because it was some nasty bugs I brought back.it was probably barely starting so that’s why I vacated the room. Thanks

  22. Amanda
    Amanda at | | Reply

    After 2 nights in a volunteer house I woke up with 6 bites on an arm, then later that day more appeared, and today I have a cluster on my lower back….that made me think bed bugs! I had already left the house so Im not sure since I didnt see them. I searched my bags and the pillow I brought with me, clothing seams, etc. and found no evidence of bugs. But Im still scared. I kept my purse, shoes and some clothes right next to the bed those 2 nights, not to mention my personal pillow. At my next destination I put everything in plastic bags then washed everything in hot water but there are no dryers here to use. I also wiped down everything I cant wash (electronics). Will that be good enough? Or should I do this all again and use a dryer when I get home? Im worried that though I looked I could miss them if theyre too small or hidden well.

  23. John Leahy
    John Leahy at | | Reply

    Hi, we checked into a hostel the other day but only read the reviews after. I found that the place is notorious for bed bugs.. We left quickly but we were on the bed for around two hours before we left. We didnt sleep there, it was during the day.. Now I think I see signs of bites on me.. Wondering if it’s possible that the BBs could be hitchhiking on our clothes and luggage after such a short stay during the day or is it just a delayed reaction from bites I received there? Thanks, John

  24. Kate T
    Kate T at | | Reply

    Hi, I will be traveling in Bali for a month in June. I am worried that I will be inevitably encountering bed bugs, as I was in Bali last year and had problems. I found that some hotel owners there are reluctant to 1) agree that bed bugs are present in their establishment 2) agree that they are a problem for the customer 3) do much about them if you complain. That being said, I’m looking for some home remedies to take with me, as I may be locked into staying at already-booked accommodations and I don’t intend on sleeping on the floor. The baby oil is a great suggestion. Is there anything else you know of that could be sprayed on the bed before sleeping, or any other suggestions? Thanks!
    Kate

  25. Emily
    Emily at | | Reply

    Currently I’m in Morocco and mt partner and I got absolutely riddled with bites a few days ago after staying in a fancy hotel.
    We gave since left that city and hostel, but now I fear that we may be carrying them with us.
    I can’t tell if new bites are coming up or if they’re just delayed reactions.

    Unsure as what to do.

    Advice?

  26. Cam
    Cam at | | Reply

    Definitely had bed bugs a few hostels back. Left the room after i noticed and slept in the common room but left my stuff behind! And now, about 3 hostels later (and after doing laundry) more bites are appearing!! I dont know if its a delayed reaction to previous bites (one week prior) or if ive brought the bastards with me (and possibly infested a gew other hostels too…) right now im waiting for the dryer and im going to blast EVERYTHING (Even the clothes originally in the sealed bag(that i didnt bother washing last time)) but i cant find a whole lot of information for dealing with bed bugs on the go… all the information out there is if theyve infested your home, which is why i didn’t deal with things properly several cities back

  27. Martha
    Martha at | | Reply

    I’ve been staying at a friend’s house in Singapore for one month. Two weeks into my stay, I did a 2 night trip to the beach in Malaysia. The itching started about 3 days after I returned. I don’t know if they were already in the house or if I got them in the beach hut. At first, there were a few bites on my leg that I assumed were mosquitoes because I went hiking that morning. Bed bugs never entered my mind but tonight, after a week of progressively more itching (I thought it was a rash that spread) I checked the mattress and saw a live bug crawling around. I killed it quickly so I didn’t look too close, but I’m guessing it was a bed bug. Either way, I’ve been around them for 2 weeks and have been oblivious. I’m leaving for the airport in a few hours, my bags are already packed. I’m at a loss. It’s hard to find washers with hot water in Asia and dryers are no where to be found. On top of that, do I tell my friend she has bed bugs and maybe they were here or maybe I brought them in?

  28. Hilde Burgmann
    Hilde Burgmann at | | Reply

    Hey, thank’s so much for your tips! Didn’t read them early enough though, and now I’ve got bed bugs. In a small city in Peru, and it’s sunday. I moved rooms yesterday, wasn’t sure about bed bugs, and now I find it irresponsible to move to another hotel, since they will come with me, no? I am sadly a messy person, and all my things were all over the place, so I guess the best would be to throw everything away. But the solution would be to clean-dry-heat all the clothes and use bug spray for all the other things? And then move out? Your thoughts on this would be really appreciated! Totally horrified, Hilde

  29. Kaye
    Kaye at | | Reply

    Those nasty little critters are a nightmare to handle! Thanks for sharing your tips on how to get rid of them. And to think that i started looking at hotel guests to see if they have insect bites after reading this lol very smart tip, jo!

  30. Mags Sno
    Mags Sno at | | Reply

    I like your tip about paying close attention to other hotel guests for signs of any visible bites. Never thought of that one!

    I suppose it could also mean that if they were bitten in another establishment they have brought bed bugs with them?

    1. IndianaJo
      IndianaJo at | | Reply

      Mags Sno, I picket that tip up from a hostel manager. I saw him staring at a girls legs once. When he realised I’d seen him he discretely explained he was checking out her bites, nothing more inappropriate! They were from mosquitos but it was good to see he was on bed-bug alert.

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