You Sneaky Little
On my way out of the US, I had a layover in China. My flight ended up being cancelled so the airline put me up in a nearby hotel for the night. As I am waiting in line to check in, I hear a girl screaming and crying hysterically. I mean it sounds like she is being tortured. I look over and see her limping from the elevator towards the lobby with a hotel clerk on her right arm. A friend or boyfriend on her left. They are holding her up, helping her walk. Did she just get stabbed? Shot?
She is wearing shorts. I look down at her legs. Bites everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. So many bites you can barely see the color of her skin. Bed Bugs. This is the worst case I have ever seen. I mean the girl can’t even walk. It is only 7:00pm. Did she just get in bed to watch TV or has she been sleeping all day? Either way, this place must be crawling. I watch her get escorted out the sliding glass front door to the lobby and make her way towards a car. The door slides closed and her screams become nothing but a muffled memory as I turn back around to the front desk. I realize I have been holding my breath.
Hello, Jill! Welcome! I hear as I turn around and come face to face with a smiling receptionist. Here is your room key. Let us know if we can help you with anything while you are here. Uhh thank you I whisper. Still flashes of the girl screaming with her red, bumpy legs.
I take the key and turn to slowly make my way to my room. I open the door. The room looks nice and clean but my ears are still ringing from girl’s wailing cries in the lobby. I am standing in the doorway. On my right. The bathroom is big, white, and fancy. I am definitely not getting in the bed. I haven’t slept in 48 hours. Bathroom floor it is. I cover the floor with clean towels, grab my backpack as a pillow, and curl up in a little ball in the middle of the floor as I drift off to dreamland.
YOU THINK YOU QUICK, EH
As I travel today, that memory still haunts me. Plus I met another girl who had really bad bed bug bites as well and believe me, it looks miserable. And no where is completely safe. Anywhere can have them. It doesn’t matter how expensive or how clean. Say you stay somewhere with one once and it crawls into your bag. Those little fuckers stay with you and even create a nice happy family to live in your stuff. With cousins and second cousins who all keep having babies as well.
If you travel often, chances are you will come across bed bugs eventually. Especially in SE Asia. I have been traveling for four months and twice I have arrived at my hostel late at night. Too dark and tired to check my bed for them. Only to feel something crawling on my leg. I grab my cell phone, turn on the flashlight, and pull back that cover as fast as possible. Only to see that sneaky little thing trying to run away. Well, guess I can’t sleep here tonight. So I end up staying awake and sitting or standing in the lobby with all of my bags next to me, googling bed bugs. I learn everything I can about them until it is early enough to make a booking somewhere else. Not fun.
Because of these sleepless nights, and all of the research I have done, I thought I might as well use it to help others. Because why else do I know every stage in the lifecycle of a bed bug? Or how often they eat? Or what the names are of all other bugs that look like beg bugs but aren’t actually them. Because of these things, I am here to help you.
PREPARING FOR BATTLE, THE BATTLE, AND THE AFTERMATH
Here is some info about these creatures, some ways to avoid them, and what to do if you do happen to cross paths.
1. Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They do not live in your skin. They suck your blood and then go off and hide when they are full. They live close to where they can find human blood because they do not like to travel long distances. (Unless they can hitch a ride.) That is why they often choose to hide around your mattress, or any other place next to your bed.
2. Bed bugs usually feed at night but can sometimes be opportunistic feeders. Especially if they are really hungry. They can survive for long periods without eating blood.
3. You can actually see bed bugs. Adults are 4-6mm in length, oval shape and a dark reddish brown in color. Babies start out the size of a grain of rice and quite often look like one. Maybe a little smaller. They are cream or clear until they suck your blood and start to live this way making them become red as they get older.
4. Adult females can lay 3 eggs per day, which hatch in around 10 days. Eggs are a white, cream color and about 1mm long.
5. Bed bugs like to hide in bed frames, or along the edging that runs along the top and bottom around all sides of your mattress. They also hide in any cracks and crevices around your bed, in picture frames, and pretty much anywhere else they can fit.
6. Before staying somewhere, I usually google the hotel or hostel name followed by bed bugs and see if any reviews come up. I have learned that some booking sites do remove reviews mentioning bed bugs after the owner confirms they have taken care of the problem. I don’t always trust this so that is why I google it.
7. When entering your accommodation, it is best to not place your bags directly on the bed until you have checked for bed bugs. Otherwise, they will easily jump in and come with you to your next destination. Total freeloaders.
8. To check for bed bugs. First, shine a flashlight along the top and bottom of your mattress looking for them. Here is what they look like. Also look for shells of their skin or eggs. Check the ridges that run along the top and bottom of the sides of the mattress. This is a prime hiding spot. Also look for dark spots or blood on the sheets and or mattress.
9. If you do find them, make sure to take a photo. (Of the bugs and the bites if you have any) This is the best way to get your money back or for the owner of your accommodation to let you out of your booking and move to a new spot. Once you leave, wash everything including your bag and make sure to put everything in a hot dryer. This is the only way to kill them.
There you have it. Bed bugs. My number two enemy after centipedes. I hope this helps you avoid them. And don’t be scared. I even know all about them and sometimes arrive to tired to care. And I am fine. Also don’t forget. Forgiveness is key. If you do get bit, don’t let them keep ruining your vacation by staying miserable. Happy travels. 🙂