While many of us are planning vacations or trips to visit family for the upcoming holiday season, bed bugs are planning their vacation too, as unwanted guests that hitchhike their way into your home from hotel rooms, rented houses & condos, families’ houses, and college dorms. So what can you do to minimize your risk? Follow these bed bug prevention tips:

Inspect your accommodations. Check your hotel room or rental for signs of bed bugs before bringing your luggage in. From high end hotels to small B&Bs or rental homes, any property has the potential to be bed bug infested – so it’s important to check every type of accommodation. Bed bugs can be found in furniture (usually cracks & crevices), including beds, end tables, sofas & chairs, dressers, etc. Be especially sure to check around mattress corners, looking for evidence of bed bugs – usually distinguished by very small, dark-colored stains. Another indication of bed bugs is skin shells that have been shed during their growth phases.

If you suspect that your room has bed bugs, ask to be moved or consider another hotel or rental.

Even if you find no traces of bed bugs, be careful when unpacking your clothing. Use provided luggage racks rather than placing suitcases on the beds or furniture or thoroughly inspect dressers before placing clothing in drawers.

Don’t unpack when you return home. Resist the urge to bring your luggage inside your home when returning from a trip. Instead, unpack outside of your home, wash all clothing right away and be sure to run everything through a high-heat dryer cycle (bed bugs cannot withstand high temperatures). Then store suitcases outside if possible, like in your garage or a storage closet. Another option, if you don’t have anywhere to keep luggage outside your home, is to seal suitcases in large, plastic storage bags before bringing inside.

If you’re experiencing bed bug bites or seeing evidence of bed bugs, contact a professional bed bug control company to access the situation. DIY bed bug control is not recommended; an exterminator can determine the best treatment plan and give you recommendations to prevent future infestations.