If you’re headed out of town — no matter where you’re going — you’d be wise to at least consider the bed bug situation at your destination.

There are all kinds of  horror stories about bedbugs and unclean hotels. To help, we have some tips on where to look (besides, you know, in the bed) to find out if bed bug infestations have been reported at your destination.

Hotel room bed

Hotel bed bugs: Things that make us go ewww

First, a little myth-busting: Bed bugs don’t only live in dirty places. The EPA notes, “Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding spots.”

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe, according to the US CDC. They also reiterate the sentiment shared by the EPA: “Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.”

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep, the CDC says, noting that they hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. “Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night, but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.”

How can you tell if there’s a bed bug problem? Apart from the bites (usually while you’re sleeping), you can look for bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting, rust-colored blood spots due to their blood-filled poop, and a sweet musty odor. (Get more tips here on how to check for bed bugs.)

Bed bug reports

Numerous sites have been created to help people file bedbug reports, and to find out if some place you plan to be staying has had an infestation of those little critters.

Bed bugs going beyond

Apart from the whole not wanting to get bitten thing, it’s important to find out if your hotel has bedbugs — even if you’re not aware of them — because those little critters can come home with you.

According to the US EPA, bed bugs are actually great hitchhikers. They can move from an infested site to a new home by traveling on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing. Although they typically feed on blood every five to ten days, the EPA says that bed bugs can be quite resilient — and are capable of surviving several months to a year without feeding.

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Original publication date: May 13, 2011

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