Why am I writing about bedbugs on a blog that talks predominantly about food and travel? Well, because bedbugs are unfortunately becoming a big part of travel, both when we travel domestically and abroad. Before I get going here, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m any kind of expert. I just want to post some of the information that I’ve found from years of working in hostels and travelling internationally. The more we, as travellers are aware of the currently HUGE problem of bedbugs, the better we can combat them and travel more comfortably and peacefully!
As you’ve noticed if you read my blog, we’ve encountered bedbugs at least four or five times on this trip already and we’ve only been gone about four months! This is a huge increase from our last trip where we were away for six months. The bedbug problem is increasing and they definitely seem to be more prevalent lately. That being said, we also find them because we know how to look for them, what they look like and where they tend to hide. When we get into a new room, it’s the first thing we usually do and that is why we sometimes find them before sleeping in the room and getting bit. In any case, I hope by giving you a bit of info about them, you are not totally grossed out and instead feel a bit more empowered during your next trip abroad or at home! So here goes:
-Bedbugs are non-discriminatory. Like cockroaches, they don’t have anything to do with what star of hotel you are staying in or how clean or dirty it is. They can be anywhere, regardless. It doesn’t mean they don’t clean the room properly if you have them in your bed. Bedbugs are extremely hardy and can go for a long time without eating. They can live in the carpet, the floor, the mattress and the bed frame. They can travel a long distance for a meal
-Bedbugs do not (as far as studies currently show) carry disease or transmit anything from one person to another. They are essentially harmless except for their extremely itchy, annoying bites
-Bedbugs look like this:
I spared you the actual photos I found on google because they were just too disgusting. Note the colour and the lines on their body. If they are full of your blood they can look fatter. I know this is disgusting, just hang in there!
Like I said above, they can hide in all sorts of places, but if you are trying to find them in your room you can look for them under the mattress. Peel back the seam of the mattress and look for tell-tale signs. If you don’t see them, you may find lots of black specks. These are their body casings (they molt), and poo! AAAAAACK..so gross!! Shudder…okay. Look in the bed frame. If your bed frame is made of wood, look in the knot holes and the nail holes. They like these kind of places.
-Bedbugs come out at night, specifically when you are in the bed as they are attracted to the warmth. I read somewhere that they are most common between the hours of 3am and 5am and I tend to agree with this.
-Bedbug bites look kind of like mosquito bites so sometimes you might not realize what is getting you when you are travelling. I’ve seen people just covered in tell-tale bites complaining of all the mosquito bites they’ve been getting while they are relaxing poolside chatting with their friends. If you are getting bit in rows, especially in groups of three bites or more, these are most likely bedbug bites. Check out this:
These are three nasty, upset bedbug bites on M’s finger after the aforementioned “incident” in Ho Chi Minh. I think he is a bit allergic to them, so you can see they are a bit infected. We eventually had to lance them. Yummy!! But you see how they are red, inflamed and in a set of three? Bedbugs! How many readers have I lost yet?
-What to do if you find bedbugs: This is only my advice and what works best for us, and again, I am not a professional in any way but what works for us is to leave. This is bad I know, because in some ways it heightens the risk of transferring them to the next place you are staying, and spreading them. So this is why I suggest you take everything you are wearing, everything that has been out in the room and has been in contact with the room. Put it in a plastic bag and tie it up and get your laundry washed. Keep your bag as far away from the bed area as you can. Tell the place you are staying and if they don’t speak English (as is usually the case with us), bring them the bedbugs if you can and show them. Explain to them that they are biting you and they need to spray the room. As for your bites, we find that a hydrocortisone cream works the best. The itchiness goes away after a few days. In fact, the worst thing about bedbugs is the psychological problems they bring. After you know you’ve had bugs crawling on you in the night, sucking your blood, its hard not to get crawly and yucky feeling when you crawl into bed. You may feel like you have them on you when you don’t and you don’t want to move to a new place after you get a “good” room for fear of getting them. It kind of messes you up a bit. But unfortunately, there is not much you can do about them.
Anyway, I hope the above stuff helps some travellers and you are not too grossed out by me! I promise I won’t post too many more disgusting blog posts and I’ll get back to flowers and food and nice things in my next post! Thanks for hanging in there!