If you travel a lot and frequent hotels, you’re likely aware that there’s always a risk you’ll bring home some unwelcome passengers when you return from your trip— bed bugs. Anyone who’s had bed bugs in their home can relay stories of months and months of dealing with exterminators and washing every last thing in the house—over and over again—only to have them re-emerge just when they thought the evil creatures had finally been eradicated. The best defense against the menacing parasites is obviously to make sure you never bring them home in the first place.
In an effort to help you prevent a bed bug disaster in your home, The Bedbug Registry compiles reports of bed bug sightings at hotels around the U.S. and Canada. Maciej Cegłowski, a writer and computer programmer, says that he administers the site “as a way of getting vengeance against bedbugs after a traumatic experience in a San Francisco hotel.” The site includes a search function so you can look up individual hotels to check for infestation reports, and it also has a list of the top cities and hotel chains for bed bugs. While the reports are unverified, they can nevertheless provide some guidance when choosing a hotel chain.
Far and away, the top city for bed bugs is New York City, with 4000 reports to date. Coming in a (not even) close second is Chicago with 500, followed by San Francisco with 450, and Los Angeles with 403.
Here are the hotel chains with the most bed bug reports:
- Holiday Inn (732)
- Days Inn (560)
- Super 8 (550)
- Best Western (519)
- Hampton Inn (505)
- Comfort Inn (503)
- Marriott (395)
- Hilton (338)
- Motel 6 (314)
- Quality Inn (305)
Next page: Find out how to avoid bringing bed bugs home when you’re traveling.
The Bed Bug Registry recommends taking the following steps when traveling to avoid bringing the bugs home with you:
- Find out what bedbugs look like. Adults are easily visible (dark brown and about the size of a tick), but the nymphs are translucent and quite small. Bed bugs in all stages of life are extremely flat, so they can hide in surprising places.
- Remember that bed bugs don’t care about cleanliness! They can thrive in an immaculate, five-star hotel room just as easily as somewhere run-down. All they need is proximity to people and a crevice to hide in.
- Learn how to check a hotel room for signs of bed bugs. You should know how to examine a mattress and how to examine a headboard, the most common hiding places for the bugs.
- Store your luggage on a metal rack or luggage stand away from walls and furniture. This will greatly reduce the risk of bringing home an unwelcome visitor .
- If you are very worried about bringing bed bugs home, consider bringing along a product like the packtite, a portable heating unit for luggage.
- Pack light, and bring things that you can put through the dryer before returning home. A few minutes at high heat will be enough to kill bed bugs and their eggs without damaging most clothing. But you must ensure everything is heated all the way through.