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Don't be bugged on vacation: How to inspect your hotel room for bed bugs

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Published: February 19, 2013 at 8:54 AM

We have all been there. We plan a wonderful vacation to a theme park. We anticipate spending all of our waking moments enjoying the rides, shows, and dining. Most of us even think that our hotel room is nothing more than a place to clean up and faint after a long day and evening of fun. But there could be something in your room that can turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. That something is bugs.

They are out there, and sadly are becoming more of a problem in hotels across the country. Even our so-called "nice" hotels are having some discoveries of the creepy, crawly type.

Bed bugs
You're looking for (and, we hope you will not find) this. A real bed bug's about the size of a head of a pin. File photo via Wikimedia Commons.

After reading all the articles and watching the news programs, my husband and I became very frightened of bed bugs. Before traveling now, we make sure to carry something that can make all of these worries go away. A LED flashlight. You can buy these mini flashlights at your local store for around $5.00. This little tool can help save you a lot of headache and scratching in the end. There are a few simple steps to take to ensure that you, your family, and your luggage do not become infested.

LED flashlight Using the LED flashlight to look for bed bugs

First off, do not bring your luggage into your room before you have checked your beds. This is highly important, because if there are bedbugs, they will get into your luggage, and thus follow you home. Keep your luggage either in your car, or if using Disney's Magical Express, ask the concierge to hold your luggage until you call for it. While vacationing in Walt Disney World at the All-Star Sports Resort, we discovered some bugs in our bed. We were not certain if they were a type of bed bug, since they were more gray than the usual reddish brown. While Disney inspected them, they told us that they would take all of our luggage to be treated if the bugs were bed bugs. If you do not want your luggage and items to be taken for a time for treatment, or the chance of some unwanted souvenirs then do not let your luggage into your room.

Once you are in your room, go immediately to each bed and remove all of the linens near the headboards. This is where bed bugs are most likely to be. With your LED flashlight, look in the creases of the mattresses. Bed bugs are about the size of a pin head. To be on the safe side, we check all over the mattress, even though they typically stay near the top and upper sides of the bed. Once you have done this for each mattress and all is clear, then you can bring in your luggage without worry. If you do discover something questionable, then tell the hotel staff immediately. We called and were put on hold for some time. We decided to leave our room and go directly to the front desk and talk to a manager. We were calm and kept it quiet as to what we had discovered which they greatly appreciated. Once all was checked we were moved to a different building and room. We were also offered dinner vouchers to anywhere of our choice for the inconvenience.

We were told that our bugs were not bed bugs. This was a relief, especially since our youngest son ran into the room with his stuffed animals. When dealing with Disney and bugs (as this was not our first encounter with bugs on Disney property), I suggest that you always go in person to talk to someone about it. While staying at Bay Lake Tower the previous year, we had an ant infestation in one of our bathrooms. Each call to the front desk was ignored. I sent a long detailed email after we had returned home about this to Disney. I was called immediately by Disney Vacation Club (since we are members) and told to call them directly next time we find something amiss in our room. We were given a refund of points to use on another vacation. Disney will work with you if you talk to the right person.

Though we all cringe at the thought of finding something, do check your room. You will be able to easily lay your head down after a long day if you know without a doubt that you are bug free.

Readers' Opinions

From Nathaniel Banks on February 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM
Since there is likely to be other luggage in the holding area, wouldn't it be just as much of a risk since it could have come from a room that was infested?
From Brian Emery on February 19, 2013 at 10:49 AM
I am just wondering how proactive the hotels are in trying to defeat these bugs. I know they only give the workers 30 minutes to clean. They want to fill the room with new guest as soon as possible…

One would hope every once in a while they would set off some kind of fog bomb to ensure all is kept to a standard but I am sure they do not….

I guess if the bugs are all natural and cage free I would be OK with them sharing a room with us…

From Robert Niles on February 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Thanks, Amanda. I can't emphasis enough to everyone that if you ever do find a problem with a hotel, whether it's bed bugs or something else, always give the staff a chance to address it! Amanda's advice is spot-on. Even the very best hotels can't always deliver the perfection they might strive for, so it's really the staff response to problems that distinguishes the great hotels from the mediocre ones. Don't rely on phone calls -- they're too easily lost in the shuffle. Go down to the front desk and ask for help.
From steve lee on February 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Last time I was in Orlando I had a similar problem, only instead of bed bugs it was a mysterious pair of black panties.

Yeah, we're never staying there again.

From Mike Gallagher on February 19, 2013 at 4:46 PM
^^Post of the week.
From 71.178.217.74 on February 19, 2013 at 4:51 PM
I always check at every hotel before we come into the room. You cannot be too careful. I also look around the carpet around the bed and behind any bedside tables.
From Anthony Murphy on February 19, 2013 at 5:22 PM
Steve Lee for the win!
From steve lee on February 19, 2013 at 8:49 PM
I only wish I was joking. We needed a cheap hotel for the night before we checked into Disney, so we stayed at the Hojo Enchanted Land something on Irlo Bronson. We used to stay at the Hojo across from Old Town and it was always cool, but they changed ownership so we thought we'd be okay with the nearby one.

Dude, just don't stay at that Enchanted Land place. It was really horrific. I wouldn't have minded bed bugs, because it would have ensured that something lived through the night. If it wasn't 1 in the morning when we got there, I would have never stayed the night.

From Mark Kausch on February 20, 2013 at 5:09 AM
Steve, I'm hoping you didn't find a dead body that fit the panties!
From 69.139.116.208 on February 20, 2013 at 5:44 AM
Check http://bedbugregistry.com for hotels that have had reports of bed bugs. It doesn't guarantee anything but it's an indicator. And ‘The Bed Bug Survival Guide’ has probably the best advice on how to avoid be bugs – and get rid of them: http://failuremag.com/feature/article/dont_let_the_bed_bugs_bite/
From Brian Emery on February 20, 2013 at 7:21 AM
Steve HOJO.hahhaha
You had me at HO....
From N B on February 20, 2013 at 4:51 PM
I'm pretty sure I had these at a Super 8 in Jamaica, NY. I sort of miss those little buggers....

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