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Senior travel tips: How to identify bed bugs and keep yourself safe

Mar 14, 2012, 11:16 a.m.

A bed bug infestation can ruin a great trip. Although they are, according to medical experts, not so much a health hazard as they are a nuisance to be avoided at all costs, there are some negative health effects that can come as the result of being exposed to a bed bug infestation. Although it is rare, some people experience allergic reactions to bed bug bites. In addition to that, bed bug bites can cause severe itching that can leave a person open to developing infections if they're scratched too much.

While bed bugs can be found in the United States, they're even more so prevalent in other countries. But you don't have to cancel your vacation just because you have reason to suspect that you might encounter a bed bug or two. Here are a few tips on how to detect bed bugs while on vacation, and some helpful advice on how to avoid bringing them home with you.

Know what they look like. Bed bugs can be a broad range of colors, from white to brown, but you'll really be able to identify them by the crimson red coloring they take on after they've been "feeding." Bed bugs have six legs and are very small and flat and look very similar to apple seeds.

Know where they live. Bed bugs get their name for a very good reason -- because one of their favorite places to nest is on mattresses and bed sheets.

Prevent stowaway bed bugs. If you have reason to believe that you're staying in a hotel room that's experiencing a bed bug infestation, you can prevent from bringing them home with you by keeping all of your clothing in your luggage (don't unpack, in other words) and by placing your suitcases in the center of the room on a raised platform, like a chair or table. Bed bugs typically live in dark corners but can leap into your luggage if your luggage is left too close to the floor.

It's critical to learn how to detect bed bugs so that if you identify an infestation while you're traveling, you can request to be moved immediately. If that's not an option, you may want to consider finding different lodgings.

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