Insects are vital to the ecosystem, but they are also pesky critters that can carry disease, or at the very least, leave painful rash bites on your skin. Dealing with bugs at home can be easy since you have a certain level of control of your environment. But when you’re traveling, you can exactly whip out the roach spray and start spraying every inch of your hotel or install screens in your Airbnb.
With that in mind, how do you avoid getting pestered by bugs while traveling? More importantly, how do you prevent yourself from getting bitten and possibly getting sick from bug bites? Before you start packing your bags, here are some essential anti-bug travel tips to keep in mind:
1. Do your research
Aside from looking up information about the local cuisine and tourist spots, take the time to research the insect-borne diseases that are endemic to your destination. For instance, dengue (an infection carried by mosquitoes) is common in parts of Southeast Asia and Africa. If you’re going to a destination where certain bug-related illnesses are great in number, it pays to be prepared before you even get there.
2. Ask about pest control measures
The last thing you want to see when you get to your hotel are insects crawling along the walls or flying around the room. If you’re staying in a mid to high-range accommodation, there is a good chance that you won’t encounter this kind of problem. But if you’re staying in a budget hotel or roadside motel, there is no guarantee that there won’t be any creepy crawlies in the room.
Either way, ask the management what pest control measures they have in place. If you’re worried about dengue, for instance, ask the hotel what kind of mosquito control strategies
they use. This is especially important if the area you are staying in has lots of greenery and water sources around that can serve as ideal habitats for mosquitoes.
3. Bring bug repellent
Bug repellent is not just important for camping trips. Wherever you may be traveling, it is a good idea to pack a bottle of insect spray just in case. Don’t forget to apply it to your skin whenever you’re outside, especially if you are hiking, visiting a lake, joining a jungle tour, or going to pretty much anywhere else that may have a lot of insects.
If you are traveling with a child, bring a child-friendly insect spray that is designed to be mild on sensitive skin.
4. Pack long clothes
Make sure you have at least a jacket, some long-sleeved shirts, and a pair of pants that cover your legs down to the ankles. Even with insect spray, you may still get bitten by more determined insects. Wearing long clothes that cover most of your body will help prevent that, especially if you are going to a woodsy area and spending most of your time outdoors. Just make sure that the clothes you pack are light and breathable so that you won’t have to swelter underneath them while you’re outside.
5. Inspect your room
When you get to your hotel room, don’t immediately flop face-first into the bed, no matter how clean it may seem. First, inspect the mattress and headboard for bed bugs or any other type of insects. If you find even just one bug, ask the management for a new mattress or request a room switch entirely.
Moreover, place your luggage on the luggage rack instead of placing it directly on the floor. If there are any bugs in the room that may have evaded your inspection, they may find their way to your bags and onto your belongings.
6. Purchase a bed net
A bed net is a thin net with very tiny holes that prevent the entry of mosquitoes and other types of bugs. It serves as a great investment for protecting yourself against bugs, especially if you’re staying in a place with no screens and a lot of greenery around. Don’t forget to bring a few pieces of rope to help you secure the bed nets to the walls before going to sleep.
If you are traveling with a child, there are also bed nets available that are made to fit around strollers and cribs.
At the very least, bugs can cause painful bites and rashes on your skin. But in the worst-case scenario, you could get infected with an insect-transmitted disease, which is especially risky if you’re in an unfamiliar place. To protect yourself and your family against bugs while traveling, always keep these tips in mind before and after you get to your destination.