A chance to relax and escape the everyday demands of work and home is a real reward, but today's holidays bring an extra worry besides airline baggage fees: bedbugs.
These blood-sucking creatures are appearing with a vengeance at the very places we go to escape - hotels and rented holiday accommodation.
Even worse than finding bedbugs when you're on holidays is bringing them home.
Here are some tips to avoid that happening:
Do some research: Before making hotel reservations, do a quick search online to see if bedbugs have been reported at the hotel or rental home you have chosen. (US sites such as bedbugregistry.com list hotels and other locations where bedbugs have been spotted.)
While some reports might be wrong, multiple listings and a number of bedbug sites reported within a specific area could indicate this is a bedbug "hot spot".
To be certain you'll get a good night's sleep, also check out hotel reviews on travel websites to find out about bedbugs, or to see if there are other problems at specific hotels.
Certain cities are at a higher risk for bedbug infestations, so it helps to know which ones have had the most problems. (The website Orkin lists 50 US cities ranked in order of the number of bedbug treatments done from January to April 2011.)
Bed check: Inspect your holiday home or hotel room when you arrive: it could prevent bedbugs from hitching a ride home with you.
Check the sheets, duvet or bedspread, and the seams of the mattress. Lift the mattress and look underneath, where bedbugs like to hide. Check for telltale pinpoint spots of blood. Examine the headboard too, because bedbugs will hide in joints in the wood.
While you're in the room, avoid putting clothes or luggage on the floor because bedbugs can get inside. Pull the luggage rack away from the wall to stop bedbugs crawling inside.
The most common sign that you've slept with bedbugs is the itchy red bumps they leave behind. If you wake up with bites, notify the hotel manager immediately to request a new room, or move to another hotel.
When you get home, take steps to avoid bringing bedbugs pests into the house: Undress in the garage and bag your clothing and luggage in garbage bags, tied tightly and sealed with duct tape.
If you do develop a problem, contact a pest control company experienced with bedbugs. Treating these pests is not a DIY job.