12/20/16
The holiday season is always the busiest travel time of the year. All over the country people are riding planes, trains and automobiles to reunite with their families and loved ones. The holiday season is great for hitchhiking jerks like bed bugs. These rude pests don’t seem to think they need an invitation to your holiday festivities to show up and make things unpleasant for everyone. They aren’t picky, either--your house, grandma’s house, your car, your hair--anything works for them, and you’ll be at a higher-than-normal risk during all phases of your travelling. That’s why Plunkett’s will be there every step of the way. Here are the steps you can take to pest-proof your holiday vacation from beginning to end.

blue car with red presents stacked on its roof driving to the right in a snowy scene

On Your Way

First things first: take these precautions before you even leave your home to minimize your chances of attracting pesky travelling companions. Be sure to thoroughly wash and dry all the clothing, blankets, sheets, and pillows you’re bringing with you. Keep clothing you’re not wearing in sealable plastic bags, even while it’s in your luggage. Speaking of luggage, keep everything you’re bringing in hard shell cases. Backpacks, bags, and other soft storage options are a lot easier for pests to get into than hard cases. Even while your stuff is in your luggage, however, it’s a good idea to further protect it with re-sealable plastic bags. This is especially important for toiletries like your toothbrush and paste. If you’re bringing food or other perishables, keep them in hard, re-sealable storage containers. You should even have packages for snacks you plan on munching on the road.

bed bug wearing a Santa hat. Don't trust him.

While You’re There

This is the most important pest-prevention leg of the trip! While you’re staying somewhere new, make sure you keep your luggage isolated. Use luggage racks if you have any available, and keep anything you’re not using sealed. This is especially important if you’re staying in a hotel. It’s worthwhile to do an inspection of your sleeping area before you move your stuff in. When not in bed getting their blood meal, bed bugs hide out away from the bed; behind headboards and wall hangings, for example.  Look for brown, black, or red spotting on the mattress, tears or bite marks, and (of course) live bed bugs. It might sound counter-intuitive, but we recommend you use the sheets and pillows that are available where you are staying instead of bringing your own. If there are bedbugs or other pests around, bringing your own stuff is a huge opportunity for them to stow away and follow you home. Before you go to bed at night, make it a habit to do a quick inventory of everything you brought. Make sure you’ve replaced everything to its appropriate re-sealable bag before you sleep. Leaving clothes or other items out overnight is how you get bedbugs to come back home with you. Fleas or moths might also eat away at cloth items overnight, which isn’t great either. Keep your laundry and the rest of your luggage away from the bed and elevated off the ground.

Blue car with red presents stacked on its roof driving left in a snowy scene

Going Home

Now the holidays are over, you’re tired, and you’re ready to go home. Before you do, though, take a little time to be meticulous about pest prevention. Do another inventory check to make sure you have everything you need. Perform an inspection on each of your items before you pack it away for the final time. Does that shirt look dirty? Are there small red stains on it? Make sure your bags and clothing aren’t hiding any bugs before you seal them up. This will include the clothing you’re wearing, too. Sometimes bed bugs will hide on the bottom of pants and ride into people’s homes with them! If you can, it would be a good idea to throw anything soft enough into a dryer right before you leave. The heat will kill any bed bugs, larvae, or eggs hidden on the item. Remember to inspect the inside and outside of your shoes right before you leave, too! Pests will use whatever they can to get at your house. The last thing you should do before you leave is put all your luggage into tightly sealed garbage bags.

open cardboard box with packing material and present wrapped in red paper with a blue ribbon. Hands reaching down to grab present.

Unpacking

You’re home, and you’re almost out of the woods! Not quite, though: there are still a few more preventative steps you should take. Don’t unpack your luggage immediately upon arriving home. Instead, keep everything in its plastic bags until you’ve had time to wash it. Keep the plastic bags in one place and don’t move them around the house. In fact, it would be ideal if your luggage didn’t go inside your house at all until you’ve had time to clean it. Don’t forget to clean the clothes you’re wearing right now, too! Put anything you can back in the dryer one more time. Anything you can’t heat up this way should be carefully inspected. Check your suitcase for bugs, eggs, or any black spots. Don’t keep anything you don’t have to; you don’t really need that travel-size shampoo. Discard the plastic bags in a trash can outside the house when you’re finished with them. Once you’ve inspected, cleaned, heated, or safely disposed of everything you brought with you, do one more check of your own beds. Repeat this inspection the next morning. If you don’t notice anything out of the ordinary, you’re probably clear.   The problem with pests is, they’re clever little critters. If they decide they want to spend the holidays with your family, they’re going to use every creative tactic they can to make their holiday wish come true. That means we have to get creative, too. If you follow all these steps, you’re going to make it really tough for anything creepy or crawly to sneak back home with you. Consider it our holiday gift to you. If you do wind up with a pest infestation this season, however, don’t panic! We’ll always be around and ready to help. Just give us a call. Hope everyone has a happy and pest-free holiday season!


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