One of the downsides of staying in cheap hostels is that while they tend to be more affordable, you are likely to encounter a little parasite that you would probably rather not encounter. These guys are a pain but honestly, they aren't as big of a deal as some people make them out to be but it kind of depends on how your body reacts to them. Only about 50% of people react to them at all and I am one of the 50% that doesn't. So while I definitely am not just keen to have my blood sucked while I sleep, I'm not going to completely freak out if I see one while traveling.
Some people on the other hand, aren't as fortunate as I am and they will have horrible allergic reactions to the little buggers that looks like they were attacked by swarms of mosquitos while sleeping naked on the porch or something.
People incorrectly assume that when they see this that the person was attacked by hundreds of bugs while they slept but this simply isn't the case. What happens with a bedbug is that they lack the blood-sucking capabilities that a mosquito has so the bite is so small that your body will coagulate the blood and the bug has to move on to find another "tap." Therefore they will bit in a straight line pattern as they move up and down you.
It isn't a pleasant thought, that is for sure but at the same time bedbugs don't transmit any sort of disease, thankfully. So the worst that is going to happen to you is that you are going to be itchy for a few days.
The big problem with these guys is that while you can basically count on encountering them while backpacking, you need to be extra careful that you don't take them home with you and this is something that these guys specialize in. The worst thing that could possibly happen is that you accidentally introduce them to your home and they are damn near impossible to eradicate. 2 become 200 become 10,000 in a very short time period and they replicate like mad.
So here is a system that everyone should adopt before entering their home back where they live.
1> Upon returning to your house leave all of your luggage outside in a sealed black trash bag. Don't take anything out of it until later
2> Have a towel near the door that you prepared before you left for your trip.
3> strip down on the porch or in the hallway.. I mean completely - put all the clothes you were wearing into the bag outside.
4> take your phone, your keys, anything that was in your pockets and put them in a sealed Ziploc style bag indoors
5> Spray yourself with bug spray (not repellant) at the door - obviously skip this step if you have some sort of allergies to whatever is in the bug spray
6> immediately go take a very thorough shower and just hope to god that none of the buggers was on your skin and jumped off between the door and the shower.
7> Seal off the towel that you used to walk from the front door to the shower and dry off with in a unescapable plastic bag
Just one bedbug can make hundreds of babies
Just for the record these little critters are not exclusive to small, cheaper hostels. Fancy hotels get them as well but they simply have more resources with which to deal with them. Smaller places might either not care, or don't even realize what they are.
So the steps I described above might seem a little excessive but trust me on this; you want to go through these steps...
This might seem a bit crazy but as someone that has actually managed to bring these guys home and create an infestation in my own home, I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that you do NOT want these guys in your house and they are almost impossible to eradicate without professional help.
In the next episode I will talk about what you need to do with all the stuff you sealed off in the hopefully inescapable plastic bags with all your gear in it.