Bedbugs are the worst vacation souvenirs.
Bedbugs like to travel just as much as people do. To make sure none of these blood-sucking pests hitch a ride home with you in your luggage, experts advise thoroughly investigating your hotel room before you tuck in for the night.
"If you stay in a location that has bedbugs, these pests could hitch a ride on you or your belongings and begin an infestation wherever you go, including your home," a representative for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told Insider. And if you’re thinking any unwanted stowaways will simply die off in your suitcase, think again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bedbugs can live for months without access to a food source. Yikes.
Even though they don’t transmit diseases, bedbug infestations can be costly, time-consuming and traumatic to remedy, which is why it’s essential to check for them wherever you’re staying—no matter how “nice” the place seems.
The EPA told Insider that as soon as you get into a new hotel room, look for evidence of bedbugs on luggage racks, upholstered furniture, the backs of headboards, mattress seams, box springs, and bed frames. Keep an eye out for all signs of them, including eggs and droppings, which should be visible with the naked eye.
WATCH: This Could Be the Dirtiest Spot in Your Hotel Room
Here’s what you’re looking for:
Adult bedbugs are brown, oval, flat, and roughly the size of an apple seed, while young bedbugs, or nymphs, are smaller and appear slightly translucent. Other, less obvious signs of an infestation include tiny black spots (droppings) and bloodstains. If you come across any of these, remove yourself and your luggage from the room immediately and contact guest services.
Even if your room passes the bedbug inspection, it’s always a good idea to keep your luggage on the luggage rack, or even in the bathroom. Just, whatever you do, keep it off the bed and off the floor.
When you get home from your travels, unpack all your clothes and throw them directly into the washing machine. Then wash and dry everything on high heat, which should kill any stowaways. And last but not least, store your luggage as far away from your bedroom as possible.
For more information, visit the EPA’s extensive bedbug guide here.