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The alarming news of a recent bed bug outbreak in Paris has had everyone, including myself, sleeping with an eye open at night. As a New Yorker and an avid traveler, Im finding the threat of these tiny nuisances is a growing concern, especially with bed bugs seemingly popping up in subways, hotels, and more.
Bed bugs, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are reddish-brown, small insects that feed on the blood of people and animals. While not inherently dangerous to people, aside from the occasional allergic reaction that some individuals may experience, an untreated infestation can quickly escalate and be incredibly difficult and costly (up to thousands of dollars) to get rid of. Whats even more unsettling is their ability to remain dormant for several months without ever feeding on blood.
The good news is that experts at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have identified effective strategies to prevent bed bug infestations. While many of these measures include action-oriented tasks such as staying alert and inspecting your accommodations, as well as unpacking items directly into the washing machine when you return home and washing at high temperatures to kill any bugs and eggs that may have hitched a ride with you, there are also three straightforward yet highly effective items you can buy right now to bolster your confidence on your next trip: a hardside suitcase, plastic storage bags, and a flashlight.
Read on for more expert tips and the items they recommend to help you avoid bed bugs on your next trip.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes that, bed bugs are experts at hiding, and that they tend to hide and travel in the seams and folds of soft luggage and bags. To avoid these pests from latching on to your bags, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says that travelers should use hard-cased luggage if possible, noting that, it is more difficult for bed bugs to attach to rigid materials than to fabric.
As I rethink my current soft-cased luggage situation, Im leaning toward a more robust and bed bug-resistant option. Thats why Im adding the Samsonite Freeform Carry-on Spinner Suitcase to my cart, especially since Travel + Leisure rated it as the best overall hardside suitcase of all the models they tested. And even better news? Its on sale for $140.
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends packing your clothing in re-sealable plastic bags. Plastic bags are available in up to 22-gallon sizes in hardware and other stores. Bring extra bags in a variety of sizes for items you buy on your trip. And, TikTok creator Dr. Shah (@dermdoctor) emphasized that travelers should store all dirty clothes in Ziploc bags, because bed bugs tend to travel and latch on to crevices, especially warm and damp ones.
To avoid bed bugs sneaking into your garments, pack and store all of your clothes in plastic bags. While vacuum-sealed Ziploc Storage Bags are a reliable go-to (especially considering they have a seal of approval from T+L editors), consider packing a few different sizes for all of your clothes, belongings, and any souvenirs you want to take home bug-free.
And finally, experts recommend packing a small, bright flashlight to inspect your room when you arrive, to check for any signs of bed bugs in your hotel, Airbnb, or other accommodation. This can mean looking for eggs, skin markings, blood stains, and adult bugs under mattresses, in drawers, on headboards, and in the carpet. To thoroughly and properly inspect your room, its a good idea to keep a flashlight on hand. Consider adding the Lighting Ever LED Flashlight, a top-rated option with over 23,000 five-star ratings to your travel gear repertoire for easy inspection wherever you go.
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