Bed bugs may look like harmless, little bugs, but those little bugs can be a big headache if you allow them to invade your home. These pests can leave itchy bumps on your body from biting and sucking your blood so they can feed and breed, eventually taking over your home.

Even the cleanest home is susceptible to bed bugs, especially if you travel often. These pests are great travel companions and have no problem relocating to your home. See below for tips on how to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you when traveling.

1. Protect Your Belongings When Packing

Never bring your own pillow with you when you travel. It's a great place for these pests to hide and bring back home with you. Use a hard-sided suitcase to prevent these critters from getting into your suitcase, as soft-sided suitcases have a lot of nooks and crannies where these bugs can easily hide. Also be sure to protect your belongings inside your suitcase. Pack your items inside plastic bags, and only open the bags when necessary.

2. Do a Thorough Hotel Room Inspection

Inspect your hotel room for bed bugs before settling in. Look at the bed, in between the sheets and on the mattress itself. You're looking for small flat-bodied insects with a brown or reddish color. They are about the size of an apple seed.

You may also see small blood smears on the walls, near outlets or light switches or possibly on the bedding itself. Look along the baseboards of the walls and around any wall decor or artwork. If you spot any signs of bed bugs, be sure to alert the hotel manager to let them know you have seen these insects and to ask that your room be moved (or move to an entirely different hotel).

3. Don't Unpack

Even after a thorough inspection, it's still best to not unpack your clothing. Don't use the dresser or shelves in the room. Keep your luggage on the luggage rack (after inspecting the straps of the rack) or on a table. Never place it directly on the bed or the floor. If possible, keep your entire suitcase in a zippered plastic bag.

4. Vacuum Luggage When Returning

When you return back home, be sure to keep your luggage inside your garage and out of your home until you have a chance to vacuum your suitcase (inside and out). Be sure to pay special attention to the seams of the luggage and the piping along the edge where bed bugs could be hiding.

Wipe down any hard areas, such as wheels and zippered areas, with bleach wipes. Take the vacuum bag or canister and empty it immediately into a garbage bag, seal it and toss it into the can away from your home. Any plastic bags that were used with your luggage should also be thrown away as well.

5. Wash All Clothing

All clothing that was on vacation with you should be washed in hot water. Don't leave anything out, just because you didn't wear it while on vacation. Wash EVERYTHING! If you have delicate items that can't be washed in hot water, they should be steam cleaned. If you don't have a steam cleaner, take it to the laundromat to be professionally cleaned instead.

Don't take any chances while traveling. Do a thorough inspection, speak up if you notice any bugs in your hotel room, keep your belongings protected while away from home and wash everything including your luggage when you return home. If you notice any signs of bed bugs in your home after returning from vacation (or anytime), contact us to help you get rid of these tiny pests.