Encountering bed bugs on the road is easily this traveller’s worst nightmare. While I was aware that I could encounter them at some point, I didn’t expect it would actually happen and this soon. Waking up on our second day in Valencia, I looked over at Bev, who was still asleep in her bed and noticed that her arms above the covers were covered in angry red bumps. She’s allergic to mosquitos so I assumed that she had been attacked by a hoard of the insects who find her irresistable on the late night walk home.
No, the answer was much worse than that. No matter where we stay, I check our beds for evidence of bed bugs before we put our stuff down. Yes, this might be a little paranoid but better safe than sorry! When we first arrived I did a quick sweep of the mattress seams and pillows and was satisfied. So when Bev awoke on day two looking like this:
We were entirely surprised. A cursory search on the internet didn’t really help, all the photos we saw and first hand accounts we read couldn’t convince us that it was bed bugs or it wasn’t so we remained suspicious. We thought maybe it was a rash the bites were concentrated only on her arms and shoulders, were itchy, but as you can see, also extremely red and swollen not the tiny red bumps like we had seen on google search. Plus, I didn’t have a single bite, surely if there were bed bugs we’d both be affected? We checked the beds again. There was nothing to indicate the presence of bed bugs maybe the mosquitos in Spain are super tenacious.
There’s really nothing like waking up covered in large itchy splotches to take the wind out of your traveling sails. Instead of going to the beach like we had planned, we stayed close to home and nursed a coffee and waited for the time difference to catch up so we could consult with my bestie and knowledgeable nurse friend about what it could be. She in turn consulted with her nurse friend and by 23:00 we had (kind of) an answer: It’s not a rash, it’s bug bites for sure.
I returned to the bed and this time I tore it apart. We scoured every inch of bedding, looking right into the folds of the seams in the sheets, the pillows, stripped the mattress bare and took a flashlight to every corner and crevice. Still nothing.
Until…one teeny tiny bright red moving dot scurried to the safety of a mattress corner. We caught it in a glass and looked at it closely. It was a bed bug! Super small and according to google, one only in its second phase after feeding. We took the evidence to our host (who was snoring soundly) and explained to him in the WORST spanish known to man what had occurred. His response was great! He was deeply concerned but as it was super late there wasn’t really a lot any of us could do. He moved us to a different (and larger!) room on the other side of the suite and put our things in the hall until the morning and they could be laundered. We decided that since it was just one very small bug if he DID have an infestation it must be a very new one. We would stay the night, if she woke up with any new bites then we would leave that morning. We took photos of all of her bites and then scrubbed down vigorously in the shower because there’s nothing like the image of bugs crawling all over you in your sleep to make you feel super gross.
The next day our host had all of our clothing laundered in hot water and dried with hot air, Bev was free of any new bites and the bed bug from the night before met a boiling hot death. We didn’t experience any problems again after that night so we ended up staying at the Airbnb until the end and after ensuring every thing got a good scalding, we pulled our things into our new room. And that was it. We were lucky that our brush with bed bugs was so minor, after the horror stories I’ve heard from other travellers forced to spend hours at the laundromat watching their backpacks and clothes go round and round in a dryer, or the unfortunate traveller who abandoned their things not knowing that hot air for 15 minutes is all you need to kill them, we got off lightly.
So what would you have done when up against the dreaded bed bug? Would you have left the place immediately or stay as we did?