Be a Savvy Traveler: Avoid Bed Bugs on Public Transportation

October 10, 2015 by Doug Moore


Could the seemingly innocent act of using public transportation end in a full blown bed bug infestation in your home? Unfortunately, it is possible.

Despite their name, bed bugs will infest any area that allows them access to a blood meal. And busy taxis, trains, buses, planes and other means of transportation certainly provide regular opportunity for a bed bug to find a host.

According to a survey of 4,500 Pest Management Professionals conducted last year, 18% of them reported bed bug infestations in trains, buses, and taxis, up from 9% the previous year.

So, how concerned should you be about bed bugs the next time you use public transportation?

I suggest that you express a moderate degree of concern. Direct your energy towards awareness and prevention of these blood sucking pests for the best possible outcome.

If you are properly prepared at home and do find yourself in the unfortunate group that does pick up bed bugs, you will be able to recognize the incident early. This allows for much quicker control of the problem and will potentially avert the establishment of a later infestation. The use of a canine bed bug inspection service is an excellent way to determine whether or not you have an infestation.

There are a few things you should know to become a savvy user of public transportation who avoids bed bugs.

First, bed bugs prefer soft coverings like upholstered seats and fabric-lined surfaces. If possible, avoid these types of situations or at the very least stand, don’t sit and certainly place your belongings on these types of surfaces. Bed bugs hitchhike on and into our belongings and since taxis, trains, and buses are exposed to large numbers of travelers, there are many opportunities to unknowingly offer bed bugs a ride to your home!

If possible, avoid placing your luggage into the trunk of a taxi. Bed bugs are nocturnal and excellent hitchhikers onto a person’s belongings. A trunk is a perfect environment for bed bugs to drop off of one person’s belongings and crawl onto yours and end up in your home.

So, whenever possible sit in the front seat of a taxi as few passengers occupy this position. Keep your smaller items like a purse and computer bag with you on your lap. If you are in the back seat of the taxi, employ the same recommendation for your smaller belongings.

If you simply cannot avoid using the trunk or placing your belongings down in public transportation, make it a habit to keep these belongings once home in your garage or some other area of your home far from your bedroom. Do this permanently as bed bugs may live up to a year without a blood meal. Upon returning home from a trip, wash and dry all of your clothing on the highest temperature setting for thirty minutes, which will kill both live bed bugs as well as their eggs.

Keep in mind that bed bugs are extremely small, adults are the size of an apple seed and they can slip through cracks and crevices in your luggage, computer bags and purses that are as thin as a credit card. In other words, even if you inspect your belongings you can easily miss finding bed bugs. The bottom line is despite your earnest efforts, there remains many ways that you can introduce bed bugs into your home if you regularly use public transportation.

The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from an infestation is to protect the beds in your home and those that sleep in them by covering them with a mattress and box spring encasement. The encasements will eliminate all the nooks and crannies that the bed bugs love to hide in – making it easier to spot blood smears and fecal matter.

If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, or simply commute daily using public transportation, I recommend you check out, and purchase a PackTite Portable Heating Unit. You can place all your items that can’t be washed (computer bag, backpack, shoes, belts, roll aboard luggage, etc.) in the unit, turn on the timer and kill bed bugs with heat!

For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.

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