Is The ‘Bed Bug Epidemic’ Just A Bunch Of Hype?

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Hotels infested with bedbugs have been a topic of conversation for some time now. The mere mention of the insects in news stories or user reviews can send a hotel into a public relations (or legal) nightmare, and whole cities have been blacklisted by some travelers afraid of becoming a victim of the bedbug plague.

But is it just public awareness around bedbugs that has gone up in recent years? In a recent piece for National Geographic, travel writer Christopher Elliot bravely tries to “exterminate” some misconceptions about the little buggers. He points out that bedbugs have been occupying hotels and inns for thousands of years and that if one room of a hotel is infested, it doesn’t mean the entire building has been taken over. He also says that most people who are bitten don’t even realize it, and quotes a leading bedbug expert as saying the bites are “no worse than a mosquito.”

Sure, nobody wants to get bitten, or worse, transfer bedbugs to their own home. But if travelers simply know where to look for bedbugs in the first place and take some simple precautions — like not putting their luggage on the bed or the floors — odds are they’ll be safe.

So travelers, relax. You don’t need a bedbug sleeping cocoon to stay safe from these pesky (but disease-free) insects. Don’t be naive, but certainly don’t let the idea of bedbugs ruin your next vacation.