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Bed Bugs

For Travellers

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​​​​How do travel accommodations become infested with bed bugs?

Guests may bring bed bugs into the hotel or other accommodation on their belongings. There is little that the accommodation keeper can do to prevent this. A well run facility will have a bed bug protocol in place so that cleaning staff are on alert for signs of bed bugs.​

How can I protect myself from bed bugs while travelling?

  • Know what bed bugs look like and where to look for them.
  • Inspect your room for signs of bed bugs before you start to unpack.
  • Don’t put clothing or suitcases on the bed.

What should happen if I find bed bugs in my room?

  • The hotel should offer you a new room. They may want to inspect your belongings to make sure bed bugs are not being spread to the new room.
  • The guests clothing and any other items that may have been infested should be treated to kill any bed bugs. Placing clean clothing in a hot dryer for 30 minutes will kill all stages of bed bugs. The hotel should offer to do this or make some other arrangement for you.
  • The hotel should have a procedure in place to keep the room out of service until it is bed bug free.

What else can I do to protect myself?

In any establishment, even one that is clean and well run, it is possible for a few bed bugs to be in a room. You may not notice them, but one or two of them may try to take a ride to your house.

There are things you can do before you leave and when you get home to protect your home:
  • Don’t pack anything that you can’t put in a hot dryer.
  • When you are travelling, don’t put bags and suitcases on the bed. Use the luggage rack as long as it looks clean or an uncarpeted floor to put your luggage on. Sometimes the bathroom floor works or the top of a dresser.
  • When you get home, don’t take your suitcase to your bedroom to unpack. Wash and dry everything you had with you. It is the heat of the hot dryer that kills all stages of bed bugs. Items that can’t go in the dryer should be inspected carefully.
  • If you can’t do these things right away you need to isolate your suitcase from your house to stop any bed bugs that are hiding in your suitcase from finding a new place to hide. You can do this by storing items in a sealed plastic bag right away.
  • If you live in an apartment you might find the bathtub the best place to unpack. One of the reasons for this is that bed bugs are easy to see on white surfaces and they don’t like climbing on smooth surfaces. If you have to keep your suitcase in your bedroom closet keep it sealed in a large plastic bag.

If you bring one or two bed bugs into your home it will probably be a month or more before you notice them. Watch for signs of bed bugs when doing regular cleaning. It is probably a good idea to inspect your bed for bed bugs every time you change your sheets just as part of your normal routine. If we all did this bed bugs would have a harder time getting established anywhere.


  • While bed bugs are unpleasant, they are not known to carry disease so they won’t make you sick.
  • If you have an allergic reaction to a possible bed bug bite treat the symptoms and get medical advice if you think you need it.
  • Take precautions when you get home just in case.

  • Relax and enjoy your holiday!

Current as of: March 15, 2018

Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services