Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite: Follow These 5 Travel Tips for a Safe Trip

A couple lie on a hotel bed after checking into the hotel.
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They’re creepy. They’re crawly. And you’re bound to encounter the little pests when you travel on a budget.


They may not spread disease, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the little buggers a public health pest. And according to that introduction by the EPA, infestations are on the rise.

That’s the same conclusion coming out of Orkin’s annual report on bed bug treatments across the U.S. The analysis, which ranked Baltimore, Maryland, No. 1, notes that bedbugs can’t be entirely prevented and that females can lay up to five eggs a day. Ick!

“They continue to invade our homes and businesses on a regular basis because they are not seasonal pests and only need blood to survive,” said Orkin entomologist Tim Husen in the report.

Luckily, when you’re on the road, there are some surefire ways to identify the 5-millimeter-long critters. And they won’t cost you a dime.

Use the S.L.E.E.P. Method to Check for Bedbugs in Hotels

Luggage is brought into hotel room.
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We can’t guarantee you’ll get a better room, a refund or a medal, but here’s a method Orkin has recommended for spotting bedbugs when you’re traveling. Just think about what you won’t be able to do if your room is infested: sleep.

Well, technically it’s S.L.E.E.P., and here’s how to apply it during your next trip.


Check out the room you’ll be staying in. You’ll find ink-colored stains from droppings on the mattress seams, behind headboards or on the furniture if an infestation is raging. You may also find red stains from where bed bugs have been crushed, 1-millimeter eggs or tiny yellow skins from shedding.

Oh, and not to mention the live bed bugs themselves. And if you wake up with an itchy red rash, that’s a sure sign you were a bedbug’s snack that night.


Pick up the mattress, box spring and other furniture to look for the inky signs of bedbugs. If there’s some loose wallpaper, lift that up to check for critters, as well.


Elevate your luggage! Keep those bags away from the floor and walls to avoid bringing home any unwanted stowaways. The bathroom and counterspace are the best places to leave your stuff.


When you’re packing up to head home, examine your luggage closely to make sure you don’t have ink-like stains from an infestation.


(OK, this one is kind of a stretch for the acronym.) Place all of your dryer-safe clothes in the dryer on the highest setting for 15 minutes when you get home. That’ll blast the little buggers to insect heaven.

And if the S.L.E.E.P. method is too much to remember, the EPA has a card you can print out and bring on any trip to jog your memory.

Now, have a good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite!

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. In third grade, he became an official junior entomologist, which means he’s a weirdo who actually likes bugs.