There are ways to protect yourself from bedbugs — for starters, don’t stay at the hotel that has the “bedbug infested” box checked on the review sites. There’s nasty chemical stuff you can take with you to fumigate your room upon arrival. It’s not very appealing. In addition to the toxic avenger kind of treatments, there’s also a product called EcoSmart Organic Bedbug Repellent. According to the EcoSmart site:
It kills bugs fast and repels for hours without any synthetic toxins or harmful residues.
Reading the instructions on how to stay bedbug free when traveling made me feel a weird combination of paranoid, obsessive, and grossed out. Also from the EcoSmart site:
Upon entering your hotel room, do NOT put your suitcase on the bed or the floor. Bed bugs can and will jump to your suitcase without your knowledge. Instead, set your luggage on the luggage rack and barricade them from entering by spraying repellent around the legs of the luggage carrier and the perimeter of your suitcase.
Look for bed bugs – or signs of them – in the seams of the mattress. Pull back the bedding and look at the mattress. Check the seams (looks like a ribbon or cord around the perimeter of the mattress). Check in and around any buttons or ribbing. You may not be able to see the bed bugs (they’re the size of an apple seed), but you may see reddish spots (blood smears) or brownish spots (bed bug poop).
You might to have to give up your sunscreen — or something — to make space for it in your carry-on, but EcoSmart does come in a TSA friendly 2.75 ounce spray bottle. The primary ingredients listed are peppermint and rosemary oil, it smells kind of like toothpaste or mouthwash. It’s pleasant enough, not so strong that it’s irritating when you spray it in your sleeping area. I made my lab assistant take a blind nose full too — the verdict? “Is that Tiger Balm?”
As for if it truly works… I can’t say for sure. My test lab is blissfully free of bedbugs.