Bed bugs: How to cut your risk

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Courtesy ChrisGoldNY/Flickr

Ordinarily, I'm proud to see my hometown earn a top spot in a ranking. But when the pest control firm Terminix released a list this week of the 15 most bedbug-infested cities, and I saw New York at spot number one, all I could do was shiver. And itch.

Ew.

To make matters worse, three cities from Ohio, the state where I was born (and where my heart still resides) made the top 10.

On the bright side, I suppose, when my mom visits this weekend from Dayton, she can brag about upgrading from an 8th-place ranked city to the number one hot spot. Or not.

Double ew.

This naturally got me to thinking (i.e. worrying!) about what I could do to protect myself from being exposed to the blood suckers. I started to look into the matter, and it turns out, Budget Travel already has me covered.

In our February 2005 issue, we published a handy guide to protecting yourself from the pests in hotels when you travel. Tips include checking the bed sheets closely for tiny blood spots—the true "calling card" of bed bugs, according to the article, and avoiding putting luggage on the bed, where they can crawl into your suitcase—and then make the trip home with you.

Here, then, I turn the matter over to you: Have you encountered bed bugs at any hotels or popular tourist attractions lately? Have bed bugs driven you insane? Do you have any creative tips for avoiding picking them up? (And have you enlisted your beagle for help?)

Let's learn from each other on this one and, hopefully, avoid taking home any pesky, unwanted souvenirs on our next trip.

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