Even the nicest hotels have been reporting bed bug infestations lately, he added. You can find reports at the Bedbug Registry on the web. Even if the hotel doesn't have a history of bed bugs, check your room carefully, he added. The voracious pests are practically impossible to eradicate if they hitch a ride home on your luggage. If you get infested, you'll probably have to trash your suitcases; clean everything in your house and, likely, pay for multiple visits from pest control experts.
The good news is you can spot bedbugs before they bite, if you know where and how to look. Better yet, many good hotels have become highly accommodating to those who do, relocating them and paying any expenses they might face to get rid of the pests, said Diener.
Where are the bed bugs? There are 15 cities were they're highly prevalent, according to the Memphis pest control company Terminix.
The 15 most bedbug infested cities, according to Terminix:
1. New York
7. Columbus, Ohio
8. Dayton, Ohio
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Los Angeles
13. Louisville, Ky.
15. Minneapolis, Minn.
But no city is exempt. So even if your travel plans take you elsewhere, make sure you do a bedbug inspection before you get cozy in your room. How do you do it?
- Keep your luggage off the floor and off the bed. It's not a bad idea to leave your travel companion outside the room, with the bags, while you do a preliminary check.
- Pull the covers off the bed to take a look at the sheets. Look for tiny drops of blood.
- Lift the mattress to see if you see either bugs, bug skeletons or droppings. You're more likely to see the bugs if you check at night because bed bugs are nocturnal, said Chad Gilbert, a spokesman for Terminix.
- Take particular care to look at the area near the headboard and behind it. Bugs often hide here during the day.
Hotels generally will waive any cancellation fees and even pay to have you relocated if you must move because of bed bugs, said Diener. In some cases, they've paid to have guests clothing cleaned and luggage replaced.
If your inspection doesn't show signs of bed bugs, it still pays to be careful, Gilbert adds. Never put your suitcase on the bed. Place it on the luggage rack, as far from the bed as possible. (Bed bugs love to burrow into luggage. Once in, you've pretty much got to throw the luggage out, said Diener.)
Gilbert also discourages people from unpacking their clothes and placing them in the hotel room drawers, where bed bugs sometimes hide and crawl into the folds of your clothing. It's fine to hang things up.
The good news is even though bed bug complaints have doubled over the past year, they're still rare. Only about 1% of travelers report bed bugs.