Bed bugs have been causing an awful lot of problems between NewYork and London that are 2 hotspots of bed bug epidemic. The two towns share a lot of features when it comes to the way we share accommodations and the high level of tourism and influx of population from all over the world.
There are a few common ways to catch bed bugs. In the transports, in hotels. So the holiday period makes it the most likely time for you to get exposed to bed bugs. As we go on holiday, we take the suitcase from below our beds, and start filling it up. There will be some people thus who will hence take the bed bugs with them on their holidays.
So let’s follow, that suitcase in the bus. The vibration on the road would be enough to distress the bed bugs that may try to find a more stable environment. The bed bug may end up stranded in the bus, and will later look for an opportunity to take a ride home with another passenger. Or they may just end up caught halfway and get stuck on the suitcase of someone else.
Those familiar with the Piccadilly line, will know how many suitcases can be stranded against one another on the tube. But once on Heathrow, that same suitcase will be in close contact with another suitcase, and the shocks and vibrations as the suitcases are tossed about will either make the bed bugs crawl away, or end up on another suitcase, or on the plane.
At your destination, you gather your suitcases, and go into a taxi that may or may not be contaminated, get to your hotel, place your suitcase on top of your bed or on the side table. So the reality is that you will not know for sure if a bed bug sighting is actually linked to you having brought it in or to the room that was infested.
As it happens, the first thing you need to do is grab your camera, and take a picture. If possible take a tissue, and catch it or crush it. If there is red blood coming out of it, it was probably already inside the room, and the blood was probably from the previous guest.
The next thing you need to do is remove the bedding from the bed and check if the mattress has blood on it, or if there are nests around the upper slates of the divan. Call reception, and ask to be relocated to another room and trust the hotel staff to do their best to work things out.
Daniel Neves, a bed bug exterminator, has been called in a lot of hotels, Airbnb, University accommodations, and in most cases I would see no signs of bed bugs. Something happened, and they took every step they could to sort things out. This is a sign of a well managed hospitality establishment.
But in other cases, I came across the worst bed bug infestation level imaginable. There should be no way round. If a hotel room is infested, it should either be stripped to the walls by a specialised company, treated and refitted. Such as service can be done with a turn around of 1-2 days. It is expensive, but the room comes back on line right away, and it makes up for the high cost.
The second good alternative is a full heat treatment that will cook the room as a whole and all the belonging it contains. It is not expensive and the first option and you can put that room online either right away, or after 2 weeks, when we return to double check the room.
But what is not right in terms of hospitality service, or pest control procedure, is to carry out a chemical treatment, and have a different guest sleeping in that room the very first night. A chemical bed bug fumigation does not offer an instant result. And therefore, by doing so, you expose the next guest not only to bites, but to him inadvertently bring it back home.
I made my peace with sleeping in hotels. Actually, I now use soft bags when I travel, and only bring cotton clothes. I have the routine that when I arrive home, get undressed, put all the clothes I wear, the clothes in the bag, and the bag itself in the hot wash. Then I go to the shower and get on with my life.
I often receive calls from the public asking me what they should do with their suitcases, and they face the choice of taking the chance of contaminating their home, disposing of their suitcases or heat treating their suitcases and belongings. The final decision is often down to the number and actual value of the luggages.