While our short break in Amed was nice and relaxing, the wonderful sense of calm was broken on our way back. During our stay, The Hubs and I had a couple of insect bites on our arms and legs. We brushed them off and figured it was all part of the kampong charm. But we got worried when more itchy red welts surfaced on our last day, especially when they started to appear in lines and clusters.
After some panic googling, we realised our bites looked suspiciously like bed bug bites. Alarm bells went off in my head and this lead to more frantic googling and horror stories of bed bugs now becoming a global pandemic. By this time, I had worked myself up into a frenzy and refused to let our luggages anywhere beyond our front door. The next few hours upon our return home was spent washing all our clothes in boiling water and dettol. After a week of furious cleaning of the house, I have stopped obsessing whether bed bugs managed to hitch a ride back with us.
Now that I’m calmer, and a little wiser about these little blood sucking devils, might as well share the few travel tips I picked up :
- Pick the right luggage – Bed bugs like fabrics more than metals and plastics. And bed bugs are small enough to squeeze through closed zippers. Experts recommend using hard luggage that closes tight instead of soft luggage with zippers
- Protect your clothes – Pack your clothes in airtight bags. These keep the bugs out. I was quite thankful that this is something I usually do for trips – not so much for keeping bugs out but that it helps save space in the luggage as everything can be compressed neatly into flat packages.
- Use the luggage racks – Bed bugs are not confined just to the beds but can be hidden in the headboard, carpets, sofas wooden drawers and electrical sockets. So it’s a good idea to use the luggage racks instead of dumping your luggage on the floor or couch.
- Check your room – Even upmarket hotels can have bed bugs. Before settling down, pull back the bedding and do a quick check of the mattress for fecal stains, eggs, etc. Telltale signs are little black dots on the mattress.
- Simple precautions when you get home – Don’t unpack on your bed when you get home. Do it somewhere where you can easily see if you’ve had bugs stowed away in your luggage. Wash your clothes immediately in hot water. Or leave your clothes in the airtight bags until it’s time to do laundry.