A world trip making means you go through many ups & downs will go. Fortunately, those 'ups' are of course much more present, but make sure you are also prepared for the 'down' moments. I think every traveler can agree that it is the worst to get sick during your trip or for example Malaria to walk up. In addition, we have the bed bugs drama known among backpackers. You hope you don't meet these tiny critters during your trip, but it could happen to you anyway. So, better be prepared I guess! Even if it doesn't happen to you, it's always nice to know what to do so that you can inform & help your fellow travelers too!
Also read: The world of insects: Know what bit you! † 8 common travel bug bites and how to spot them.
Table of contents
What are bed bugs?
During my trip I discovered that many backpackers are not even aware of bed bugs and that of course only causes the spread. But first of all: what are bed bugs anyway? Bedbugs translated means both bedbug and bed bugs† They are super small insects with 6 legs and a flat, oval body. They are between 4,5 and 9 mm in size and can be white to reddish brown. Bed bugs live in, around and under the bed and are mainly active at night, making them difficult to spot. They do not like light, but they do like heat. The moment you crawl into bed with your warm body in a dark room (which is always the case), they become active. Bed bugs live on blood. These tiny bite marks create tiny red spots and tiny bumps that can itch for days. Not only is the itching very annoying, it is also difficult to get rid of bed bugs. They easily travel with you.
How do you recognize bed bug bites?
Bed bug bites are easy to spot once you know something about them. At first, the bumps themselves look a lot like mosquito bites, spider bites or sand flea bites. Bed bug bites can be recognized by the fact that the bumps are usually in a row behind each other. They are also close to each other. The amount of bumps means nothing. One time you can suffer from many bed bugs that have been on different body parts and the other time you can be 'lucky' that there was only 1 bed bug on your arm.
What to do with bed bugs?
1. Leave cannot directly your accommodation
Usually you only find out that there are bed bugs after lying in your bed for a while. Unfortunately, by then it is already too late to pack your things and leave your accommodation. Bed bugs love heat and will crawl in luggage, clothing and items such as a laptop. This way they can easily travel with you. So you don't help yourself with it, but certainly not your fellow travelers either.
Do you sleep in a dorm? Immediately inform the person in your room, so that they can also take action. It's best to calm and positive to stay and immediately start with the step-by-step plan below so that you can quickly exterminate these critters & continue your journey happily.
2. Wash above 60 degrees
In many cases, your backpack has been located by the bed and there is therefore a chance that there are also bed bugs in it. In order not to take any risks, you must therefore clean your luggage. Collect everything that can be washed in a plastic bag and in the meantime put on old clothes that you do not attach much value to. This bag of belongings (clothing, packing cubes, cotton bags, everything that can be washed) take you to the laundry. Or even better: have your accommodation take this to the laundry or even better: have it washed by your accommodation. After all, they owe you something. It is important that everything is washed above 60 degrees. Bed bugs do not survive this temperature.
3. Other stuff in a closed bag
Bed bugs can also crawl into, for example, a laptop and that is why it is important that you also do something with your other stuff. Also think about your backpack itself. In many cases these can not be washed. Collect all these items and put them in black garbage bags that you tie up well. Place these bags in full sun for at least 24 hours. Also in this case, bed bugs will not survive. How do you handle this? For example, many accommodations have a roof terrace or a private space where you can leave your belongings with peace of mind.
4. Treat your bed bug bites
In the meantime, it is high time for a shower and you can choose to treat your bites against the itching. The main advantage of these bites is that they are not contagious. So other travelers do not have to worry at all. It doesn't hurt either, it just itches really bad. So you do not have to treat the bumps, only if you want a cream against the itching, you can get this at a pharmacy. You don't have to worry about a possible language barrier, I think the bumps are so recognizable that they immediately know what you mean.
5. Throw away the clothes you wear and clean everything
After the thorough shower, throw away your current clothes (or have them washed) and put on your (60 degrees) washed clothes. Now that all clothing has been washed and the other items have been in the sun, you can clean everything again. For example, wipe your laptop, camera, etc. with a cloth and especially in all slots where any eggs may be hidden. Do the same for all the seams of your backpack and daypack.
So, ready to leave! On to the next destination and accommodation and hoping for better luck! Keep in mind that in many cases an accommodation cannot do anything about bed bugs. For example, it is not the case that bed bugs never occur in fancy hotels and only occur in cheap hostels. It can occur anywhere. Accommodations can also be the victims of travelers who have not adhered to the above step-by-step plan and have therefore simply taken them with them. In that case they are just as victims.
Can you prevent bed bugs?
You can check a few things to avoid this whole thing:
- Never put your backpack and belongings directly on or under the bed. Preferably put them in a room with tiles so you can check first.
- Check the bed you are going to sleep in. Check for small dark brown (poo stains) or red stains (blood stains) on the mattress or bedding. Check the seams of the mattress and the label, this is where they can often hide.
- Does the property have dark bedding? Then this cannot of course be checked and you can wonder why they have chosen this option.
- View reviews & search for your accommodation in backpack Facebook groups. It is possible that a warning has been posted by someone who slept the night before you there, so you can assume that it has not yet been solved by the accommodation.
The most important thing is that you don't let such an event ruin your day. Rather, see it as yet another extra experience that you have been able to experience during your trip!
Questions or need additional tips?
Feel free to DM me on my Instagram @whatsournextdestination.
Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!