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Why You Should Always Put Your Luggage in the Hotel Bathtub

Why You Should Always Put Your Luggage in the Hotel Bathtub

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In 2023, we experienced a full-blown bed bug epidemic in hotels around the world, though no city seemed to be hit harder than Paris. And while the crisis seems to have subsided, we’ve learned our lesson. And that’s why we can tell you that when you check into a hotel room, do not — under any circumstances — put your luggage on your bed. Instead, put it where you least expect: inside the bathtub.

Sure, tossing your bag in the bathtub might sound like the oddest thing you can do when stepping inside a hotel room. However, by doing this, your luggage stays clear of any fabric surfaces (including carpets, bedding, decor, and drapes) that may harbor tiny fugitive bed bugs hopping in your suitcase to hitch a ride to their next destination. 

“Travel can be anxiety-inducing as it is — delayed flights, lost luggage — so I try to make sure I do everything I can to avoid adding bed bugs to the mix,” Lydia Mansel, a travel writer and the founder of Just Packed, shares. “Whenever I check into a hotel, I immediately put my luggage either in the bathroom, the entryway, or any space away from the bed and not on the carpet. This way, my belongings are far enough away from any furniture where bed bugs usually reside — and I significantly lower my chances of bringing them home.” Mansel adds one more important step: “I also like to leave housekeeping a note on top of the suitcase, letting them know to leave my bag there. I’ve occasionally had my bags moved and placed on luggage racks — which can also be home to bed bugs — so the note ensures my luggage stays where I left it.”

There are plenty of other ways to protect against a bed bug infestation in your luggage, too. As the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene explains, travelers should choose a hard-sided suitcase whenever possible as “it is more difficult for bed bugs to attach to rigid materials than to fabric.” The department also suggests packing in resealable plastic bags and bringing a small flashlight to help you inspect your room upon arriving. 

According to the department, once you’re in your room, you should also take some time to look at the tiny crevices around the space to see if you spot any critters,

“Examine beds and box springs by pulling up the sheets at the corners and sides. Check mattress tufts and seams for bed bugs and their markings,” it stated. “Do a quick check of pillows and upholstered furniture for signs of bed bugs. If you can, check behind headboards and open the drawers of the nightstands and look inside.” If you only plan to stay a night or two, the department also recommends keeping your clothes in your luggage and forgoing unpacking altogether. It notes the bathroom as a great place for storage, too. 

“Place your luggage on a hard elevated surface — not on the floor, and not on upholstered furniture,” it stated. “If you can’t find a suitable surface, put your luggage in a dry bathtub, or leave it in your car until you’ve done a quick inspection.”

And if you’re really feeling up to it, you can do as Daniel Clarke, travel expert and director of Parklink, does and clean your storage areas before unpacking.

“Having been ‘stung’ in the past by having ants enter my backpack on one trip and bed bugs while on a different vacation, I have now learned I need to either clean the hard storage surface first — I carry antibacterial wipes for this — or if I have a bathtub in the room, then that is the better option to keep my luggage. The bath can easily be washed down first and is likely to be one of the cleanest surfaces in the room due to its frequency of cleaning,” Clarke says. “The bathtub not only proves itself to be an efficient use of space if you have a small room, but I have found no unwanted bugs or insects have stowed away in my bags since storing my luggage there.”

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