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A chance to relax and escape the everyday demands of work and home is a real reward, but today's vacations bring an extra worry besides airline baggage fees: bedbugs. Once rarely seen, these blood-sucking creatures are appearing with a vengeance at the very places we go to escape - hotels and vacation rentals. But worse than finding bedbugs on vacation is bringing them home.
DO SOME RESEARCH
Before making hotel reservations, do a quick search online to see if bedbugs have been reported at the hotel or rental you've chosen. Sites like bedbugregistry.com list hotels and other locations where bedbugs have been spotted. While these sites can sometimes be in error, if you spot multiple listings and a number of bedbug sites reported within a specific area, it's possible this is a bedbug "hot spot."
To be certain you'll get a good night's sleep, also check out hotel reviews on travel websites to find out about bedbugs, or to see if there are other problems at specific hotels. Certain cities are also at a higher risk for infestations, so it helps to know which ones have had the most problems.
Oddly, even smaller, non-metropolitan cities have had problems with bedbugs. Orkin lists 50 U.S. cities ranked in order of the number of bedbug treatments done from January to April 2011 (orkin.com/press-room/top-bed-bug-cities/).
Once your research is done, inspecting your vacation rental or hotel room upon arrival could prevent bedbugs from hitching a ride home with you. Check the sheets, comforter, and the seams of the mattress and box spring. Lift the mattress and look underneath, where bedbugs like to hide. Check for telltale pinpoint spots of blood. Examine the headboard too, because bedbugs will hide in joints in the wood.
While you're in the room, avoid putting clothes or luggage on the floor because bedbugs can get inside. Pull the luggage rack away from the wall to stop bedbugs from crawling inside.
The most common sign that you've slept with bedbugs is the itchy red bumps they leave behind. If you wake up with bites, notify the hotel manager immediately to request a new room, or move to another hotel.
When you get home, take steps to avoid bringing these pests into the house. Undress in the garage and bag your clothing and luggage in garbage bags, tied tightly and sealed with duct tape. If you do develop a problem, contact a pest control company experienced with bedbugs. Treating these pests is not a DIY job.