While bed bugs are a nuisance, you’re more than likely to pick up another type of bug, the microscopic type, than anything you can see
Here’s my procedure for checking out a hotel room. While it may seem a lot, I can go through the entire procedure in about 3 minutes:
1) Upon entering the room, put your luggage on the tile floor in the bathroom or leave your bags outside the room. I know this sounds weird but bear with me.
2) Go to the bed and pull back the covers in the corners nearest the headboards. Check out the mattress especially along the seams. Lift it up and look underneath and at the box spring if there is one. Look at the dust ruffle/skirting if there is one. Are there any signs of bedbugs such as carcasses, dried skin, fecal spots or dried blood spots?
3) Next, go to the headboard and exhale on the top of the headboard. The CO2 in your breath will draw bed bugs out. Check behind the headboard, the upholstered chairs, the luggage rack and even the drapes. Open the drawers to the nightstand if there is one. Look inside and on the sides. Re-check the top of the headboard to see if any live bugs have come out. If you see anything suspicious, or signs of the little devils, grab your bags and get another room. Some people even use a small LED flashlight during their inspection since bedbugs like the dark and tend to hide in dark places. If there are no signs of bed bugs, get your bags and either put them on the luggage rack, which you inspected, the dresser or a desk. Never put your bags on the floor, a chair, a second bed, or anything upholstered. Even if there are no bedbugs in your room when you check in, if they are in an adjacent room they will travel.
4) If everything is okay, go into the bathroom and look at the general cleanliness. Does it look clean? Are the towels fresh? Has the trash been taken out and has everything been wiped down? (No hairs floating around?) Are there new toiletries and soap or have the old ones been left?
5) Go to the bed and remove any bedspreads, covers, or decorative pillows. Throw then either in the corner or in a chair you don’t plan to use. Sadly, these are not cleaned as often as you think and who knows what may have taken place on them.
6) Pull back the sheets and check to make sure they are fresh and clean.
7) I carry a pack or two of these travel size disinfectant wipes. Grab one and wipe down the phone, TV remote, light switch and door handle. You’d be surprised to learn that these items are usually just wiped over with the same cloth used to clean the rest of the room. And if the person before you had a cold and used the phone or touched any of the other items, guess who is probably going to catch it? Check to see if the remote is working. (If you don’t want to wipe down the remote, I know a few people who take the shower cap that’s usually part of the toiletries left for you in the bathroom, and use it as a cover for the remote.)
8) In the bathroom, grab a hand towel, unfold it, and put in next to the sink. When you start to unpack, place your toothbrush, toiletries, and anything else you plan to use. on the towel rather than directly on the counter. This too helps prevent germs.
9) If you plan to use the in-room coffee maker, hand wash all parts prior to using it. Sadly, sometimes the same cloth used to clean the rest of the room, or worse the bathroom if that’s where the coffee machine is located, is used on the coffee pot–inside and out.
10) Unless your room has disposable glasses and coffee cups, rinse those out as well before use. You can put the clean ones on the hand towel that’s already been unfolded on the bathroom counter.
11) If you plan to get ice, and a plastic bag is available, line the bucket with the bag before putting ice in it. Some people use the ice bucket as a makeshift refrigerator and you never know what was in there.
While I admit I sometimes forget some of the above steps, since adopting this procedure I’ve yet to get a cold or the flu while traveling.
By the way, the disinfectant wipes are also good to have handy on planes or trains to wipe down your tray table and armrests. And never, ever ,ever, use the pocket in the seat back in front of you. It’s hardly ever cleaned and pretty disgusting.
I also use online hotel reviews such as the ones found on TripAdvisor to check out a hotel before making a reservation. Just because a hotel doesn’t have a problem now, that doesn’t mean they won’t have a problem when you arrive. However, if there are reports of bedbugs in the reviews, you might want to make a reservation elsewhere.
Any tips you have for a germ-free hotel stay?