Don’t Let the Bed Bugs
Bite Your Vacation

The Bed Bug Adviser
Traveler’s Guide

Here’s what you need to know about hotels and bed bugs…

Are you worried about finding bed bugs in your hotel bed, Airbnb, or short-term rental?

You should be. Hotels and motels are the third most popular source of bedbugs in the United States, according to pest management professionals.

Our travelers’ guide will help you know what to look for – and how to protect yourself.

At Bed Bug Adviser, our independent team of experts has tested every treatment option, read all the research, and interviewed academic experts to get you the best possible advice.

Fill in your email below to see the full guide.

1 %
travelers have had to check their clothing for bed bugs after a trip (NPMA)

Read our guide to keeping your health and reclaiming your sanity during a bed bug infestation…

How does a hotel or Airbnb get bed bugs?

These little vampire bugs love humans’ warmth and blood, love hiding in their beds, and love hitching rides in your luggage, clothes, or even on your person. They can fit inside a space the width of a credit card, and you might not even notice them until after you get home and discover your invisible hitchhikers.

Don’t be fooled: bed bugs like fancy digs just as much as a seedy motel.

Bed bugs have often been spotted in five-star hotels and resorts; according to the CDC, their presence is “not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.”

Don’t believe me? Check BedBugRegistry.com – a website that collected reports of bed bugs and makes them searchable by hotel – and search for the names of the last few hotels you stayed at. There’s a strong chance that at least one of them has had a bed bug problem. (The site hasn’t been updated lately, but past complaints are still available.)

The bed bug signs you should look for…

Those crisp white hotel sheets do have one advantage: you can see many of the telltale signs easily if you know where to look. Our research experts say you should look for the following, please note that images may be disturbing because bed bugs can be upsetting:

Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.

Dark spots, which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.

Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.

For more tips on identifying bedbugs, check out our identification guide.

What to do if you suspect bed bugs in your hotel room:

First, notify the staff – or your host, if you’re staying in an Airbnb or other short-term rental.

In at least three states – Kansas, Nevada and West Virginia – the law requires hotels to stop using the room and exterminate the bedbugs before another guest stays the night.

Many other states have some form of law – but it’s not a requirement. Still, the staff at your hotel or the host at your rental house will be highly motivated to help; they want to avoid negative reviews and bad publicity.

Many hotels will outright deny that what you have found are bed bugs. Be sure to show them proof and that your information is reliable!

My rights if bed bugs are in my hotel

You may or may not have rights to some compensation – it can depend on what state you’re in, what hotel chain you’re in, and how severely you were affected. Either way, gather as much evidence as you can.

Take pictures if you can spot any bed bugs, eggs, or stains on your bedding.

Contact the local health department, ask it to inspect your room, and get a copy of the report.

If the staff doesn’t address the problem immediately, file a formal complaint with hotel management, getting the manager’s name, phone number and email address.

Seek medical attention and get a record of your doctor’s visit.

How to avoid bed bugs in your hotel or short-term rental…

The easiest way to protect yourself while traveling is the our TravelGuard Bite Barrier. We made this product to address a big need we kept hearing about: how do you make sure your bed is safe when you’re traveling? How do you keep any stray bugs from biting you before you realize they’re there? It was the first product we made – and it’s made specifically for travel use.

You can roll it up, put it in its small case, and stow it in a corner of your suitcase. Even better, it locks any bed bugs inside when you leave your hotel – and is machine washable, so you can kill any unwanted travelers.

Don’t let bed bugs ruin your vacation zen.

We’ve talked to a lot of bed bug victims. One long term effect they didn’t expect was something a lot like PTSD – a persistent fear that stays with them for months after the infestation was cleared up.

It’s very common after you’ve encountered bed bugs to feel like you’re getting phantom bites, or to have more trouble getting to sleep. Several victims we talked to felt like they needed to burn everything they owned (you don’t, but we understand the impulse) and you can end up feeling disoriented, unsafe, and paranoid.

Let’s recap…

Bed bugs are a very real risk for travelers, no matter where you’re staying. Know the signs – and don’t be afraid to act quickly to get help from the hotel or vacation rental host if you spot anything. Bed bugs don’t care how fancy your hotel is. Hotels are vulnerable simply because they have a lot of turnover for each bedroom. Bed bugs don’t care if everything is spotless and you have a rain shower in your hotel; they just want to ride along with you wherever you’re going.

Bite barriers protect you while traveling – and when you get home. If there’s one step you can take to prevent bed bugs from spoiling a vacation, getting a bite barrier is it. Not only are you protecting yourself and your good night’s sleep, but you’re ensuring you won’t accidentally tow some new bug friends home with you.

Bed bugs often affect your mental health. Don’t underestimate your own health needs; if you encounter bed bugs while traveling, take a few steps to protect your sanity with our health recommendations.

We founded the Bed Bug Adviser to give bed bug victims with the best, most up-to-date information. If there’s a question we haven’t answered in this guide, please let us know below.

Until then, we hope this helps you sleep tight tonight.

“It would be weird for you not to be freaked out!
If you have bed bugs, and if you don’t care, that’s not
a normal reaction. You should be worried. I would
consider it a normal reaction to a stressor.”

-Stéphane Perron, University of Montreal


Bed Bugs Are Stressful and That’s Okay

Where do the bed bugs hide? Table of Contents1 Where do the bed bugs hide? 1.1 What are the effects of bed bugs on our health?1.2 Here’s what to do first to reclaim your safety and peace of [...]

Let’s get you protected…

HomeGuard Bite Barrier

Your best first line of defense to protect your home and family from Bed Bugs.

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What are our customers saying about our products?

  • I was on an Airbnb Facebook group reading over the different posts where hosts share their different problems or questions and I kept seeing the bed bug issue come up, and one person said 'I don't know what to do, this is a disaster' and nothing I was reading in the comments was satisfying. It was pretty jarring and I thought as we're scaling this up I really need to do something preventative there and I just didn't know what to do. But then I met Brian the Bed Bug Adviser and learned a lot about how to deal with them and protect myself.

    Caroline Y.
    Caroline Y. Airbnb Property Manager and Traveler
  • What I like about the TravelGuard is that it's literally just a sheet, it's not bulky or anything like that, it's as easy to pack as a sheet, you can roll it, you can fold it down. There are more times than you think that you end up needing something like the TravelGuard.

    Caroline Y.
    Caroline Y. Airbnb Manager and Traveler

Questions about fighting bed bugs?

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