How to avoid bed bugs in a hostel

There’s been a recent spat of bed bugs lately, appearing everywhere from budget hotels, work places and homes. Bed bugs are something that can strike anywhere, and are not necessarily a sign of somewhere being dirty. All it takes for one person to come into contact with bed bugs, and to walk into somewhere with their luggage, a few bugs can hop off that onto the carpet, and hey presto you’ve got what can spiral into a full on infestation.

The responsibility to get rid of bed bugs is on the hostel, hotel, business, or home that has been infested, but if you do happen to be unlucky enough to be staying somewhere that gets bed bugs, or you just want to take steps to avoid getting bites (just to be on the safe side), here are some hostel specific tips that you can implement to avoid bed bugs in a hosteling environment.

1. Use a hard case instead of a soft case or backpack

Bed bugs can latch onto any kind of cloth like or stitched material. This means that if you are travelling with a soft case or backpack, beg bugs can easily latch onto these like they would clothes or bedding. Especially areas around the seems or zips is where they tend to like most. With hard cases, there is a lot less areas and material for them to latch onto.

2. Keep your luggage off the bed and the floor

Whether you travel with a hard case or not, one of the main ways to avoid getting bed bugs into your luggage is to keep it off the bed, and particularly the floor. The bugs often live or travel across the floor. By keeping your luggage even a few inches off the floor, either on a luggage rack, or in a metal locker (wooden ones are no good as the bugs can live/crawl in/over wood) you can help to avoid this. They can also use luggage as something of a stepping stone for getting to the bed if you leave it under you bed, so even if you don’t have a locker which fits your entire luggage, it’s best to keep it standing up on the floor a little bit away from your bed, rather than under it. Keeping it off the bed is also another good precaution, as if there are bed bugs crawling about, this can prevent them from spreading to your luggage.

3. Sleep in a top bunk

In the few experiences where I’ve ended up somewhere that’s gotten a bout of bedbugs, the people who stayed on the top bunk got much less or no bites compared to people sleeping on the bottom bunks. Although it’s not true to say bugs can’t reach the top bunk, the reason the top bunk people had less or no bites is because it’s harder for the bugs to get up there from the floor. Also, if a bed bug gets onto the bottom bunk, and has a person there to bite and suck blood from, why are they going to bother trying to climb higher?

4. Keep beds from touching the wall

Other than the floor, one of the main ways bed bugs hop onto your bed is via the walls. By simply pulling the bed a few inches away from the wall so it’s not touching it directly, you can reduce the risk of bugs getting onto your bed. Ideally 3 or 4 inches is a better distance, as bugs can jump, but even just a few inches reduces the risk greatly.

5. Wash all your clothes at a high heat

If you do find that there has been a bout of bed bugs where you are staying, or even if you just want to be on the safe side, one way to kill any bugs in your clothing is to wash and dry them at a high heat. You may even see the odd little dead bug as you pull your clothes out which although this may sound a horrible, at least it puts your mind at ease to know that it worked. Thy key thing to remember however is to steam clean your backpack or case also, as what you may end up doing if your luggage is infected, is simply be riding your clothes of the bugs, and then putting them back into an infected backpack or case.

Above are the main tips that I use for avoiding bed bugs in a hostel. Also remember to stay vigilant. Check the seems around your mattress, bedding, and any mattress covers too. If you see any sign of bugs or bites while staying at a hostel, make sure you inform the hostel staff right away. It will be much easier for them to get rid of the bugs if they catch them early on. Aside from that however, you shouldn’t have to stay somewhere with bed bugs, and if a hostel can’t offer you a suitable alternative in another room or hostel, and make fast, efficient steps towards removing the bugs, then I’d strongly advise you ask for a refund and leave to find somewhere else suitable!