Bugs, Beds and Bags – Oh My!

“They were everywhere! In our beds, our bedding, our clothing….even in the furniture. After months of fighting the little bastards, we finally gave up – abandoned everything and moved away”.

THIS is the conversation that I replay in my mind every, single time I open the door to a hotel room. It is the horror story told by a friend who traveled overseas and brought home a suitcase inhabited by bed bugs.

It doesn’t matter if I am staying in a 5 star hotel with dedicated Butler service – the same scenario plays itself out during my stay. Kind of takes the fun out of travel.

Bed Bugs! The thought of a female bed bug, belly filled with eggs, hitching a ride on my clothing or suitcase and setting up shop in my own home is terrifying.

I am Canadian and we are, for the most part, generally very welcoming to immigrants. I am not welcoming to pregnant, single mothers who climb into my suitcase with the intention of crossing the border and making their home in MY home.

I cross the threshold into my hotel room and look for the luggage rack for my suitcase. I usually set the rack in the bathroom and place my luggage, elevated, in that wee room for the duration of my stay. My rationale for using the bathroom as my temporary closet is that there is no carpet in that room, therefore it was less likely that an errant bug would find its way into my suitcase. If I found that the bathroom was carpeted? I would run out screaming.

Strangely, there were no luggage racks in my hotel room, so my suitcase is placed directly on the tile floor of the bathroom. It is a small powder room and the large suitcase now becomes a tripping hazard but hey…..sacrifices are sometimes necessary for the greater good.

I mused aloud, “Should I leave a note for the cleaning staff? They are going to wonder why my suitcase is in on the bathroom floor”.

Nah…..they have no doubt seen plenty of crazy and my eccentricity will barely register The suitcase will stay on the floor and no note will be necessary.

I immediately grab my magnifying glass and strong LED light and use them to inspect the mattress – checking for black specks. Whew! There are no black specks to be seen and I exhale with relief.

I still need to take precautions because those stealthy little bastards could be anywhere. I have brought plastic bags from home for my soiled laundry but am kicking myself for not investing in the ones with a seal. What good is a plastic bag if the tiny, blood-sucking fuckers can crawl out?

I remind myself that I haven’t seen any evidence of bed bugs so anything that I do from this point forward is unnecessarily prophylactic – basically overkill. The lack of sealed plastic bags is not a deal breaker…..carry on.

I spend the next three days ensuring that I do not mix clean and dirty – that I do not throw anything onto the bed or the couch, increasing my chances of contamination.

This exercise seemed to be so logical while I was at the hotel, but as I write about it I realize that I am a wee bit bat-shit crazy. Who does this? Who is so paranoid about bed bugs that they basically operate a Hazmat operation out of their hotel room?

I arrive home, satisfied that I have taken every precaution to avert bed bug disaster. As I enter my own home, my suitcase is left on the outside deck in the cold in the hopes that any cling-ons will die of hypothermia.

I remove my clothing on the spot and take both it AND my bagged, soiled clothing  from my suitcase and immediately toss into the washing machine on hot. I have a feeling that my sweater won’t survive the high heat, but there are sacrifices needed for the greater good and honestly it was from Old Navy so….not that expensive. I then hop into the shower, physically washing away all evidence of travel, psychologically ridding myself of the invisible bugs.

I walk into the living room in my robe, my wet hair tied up on a towel, and only now am I able to sit and chat with my husband about my trip.

“Hey sweetie…..the Erma conference was a blast!”


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