Five signs you have bed bugs – how to avoid an infestation while travelling

Connie Flores finds 'bed bugs' on Princess cruise line mattress

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Summer marks the peak holiday season in the UK, but millions of Britons could be unknowingly transporting unpleasant critters on their travels. Bed bugs can attach themselves to everything from clothing to luggage, and will quickly multiply when they reach your home. Keeping an eye out for signs of this common pest is the best way to reduce an infestation, but what exactly should you be looking for? Here’s how to spot bed bugs lurking in your property.

What are the most common signs of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are unpleasant at the best of times, but it can be even worse to discover an infestation after travelling back from a holiday.

These small critters can be a pain to clean away for good, so it is essential to spot the signs before the bugs multiply too much.

While beds are the obvious place to look for traces of this common pest, there are plenty of other hiding spaces you should check in the warmer months.

Bite marks

Bed bugs are known to feast on blood rather than dead skin, which is why bite marks are one of the most obvious symptoms of a bed bug infestation.

While small bite marks can often be mistaken for this common critter, there is one specific pattern you should look for.

Small red dots on your body could come from almost any bug lurking in your room at night, but a line of bites is most likely to come from a bed bug.

As stated by the NHS, this is the easiest way to determine whether you are in fact sharing your bed with these unpleasant creatures.

Egg shells

White specks are often found outside of the bed, especially on sofas and even on hardwood like shelves and nightstands.


Small red splatters on your sheets can come from two different sources when caused by bed bugs.

This could be either your own blood, which has been sucked out by the critters, or by squashing the bugs themselves while you sleep.

Dark spots

Black or brown dots in the seams of your bed is one of the telltale signs of bedbugs – but it’s not the bugs themselves that you’re looking at.

Dark patches are caused by the faecal matter left behind by the bugs and is a clear indicator that you’re dealing with a sizable quantity of them.

Musty odour

The NHS recommends you should check your bed immediately if you can’t find any other explanation for a sudden, musty smell in your room.

Bed bugs release pheromones that grow more powerful as the bugs multiply.

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How to avoid a bed bug infestation while travelling

Transporting bed bugs back to your home is easy to do unknowingly, but there are several ways to prevent it from the moment you arrive on holiday.

Keep luggage away from your bed

No matter where you’re staying, luggage should never go near your bed if you’re concerned about these small critters while travelling.

Keep luggage either in the bathroom or by the door to keep any hidden bed bugs from climbing into your suitcase.

Check the bedding

A quick check of the sheets and seams of the bed won’t go amiss when it comes to harmful bed bugs.

Look for any of the common signs including bloodstains, dark patches and eggshells for a clue.

Check nearby furniture

Nightstands, desks, shelving and soft chairs can also harbour these bugs if positioned close to the bed.

Wash items when you return home

Washing your clothing, towels and any other fabrics which have been transported from your holiday should be done immediately upon your return home.

Use a hot wash cycle to kill living bed bugs and reduce transmission of this common pest.

Keep luggage away from your bed at home and leave it outside to air for a while before packing it away again into a cupboard or storage.

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