"Before booking a room
• Read reviews carefully.
• Get in touch with the hotel directly and ask about their bed bug action plan. Good hotels should have one.
• If travelling to North America, check out the handy Bed Bug Registry at bedbugregistry.com.
How to check your room
• Leave your luggage in the bathroom while you scour the room. Bed bugs don't like tiles and there are fewer crevices in the bathroom.
• Adult bed bugs are oval, flat and reddish brown, but they're about half the size of your pinky fingernail.
• They hide in the cracks and crevices of mattresses, bedroom furniture, electrical appliances, carpets and curtains.
• As well as live or dead bugs, keep an eye out for their skins, eggs, droppings or blood droplets on the sheets.
• A sickly sweet smell in the room could be a sign of an infestation.
• If travelling with children, get them involved. Teach them what to look for and make a game of it.
What to do if you spot an infestation
• Hotel staff should be more than accommodating if there's a bed bug scare.
• Request a new room at least two floors away, and repeat the check (there's a chance the whole building is infested).
When you get home
• Bed bug bites sometimes don't show up for five days, so remain vigilant.
• Make a habit of vacuuming and inspecting suitcases before storing them.
• Wash your clothes with warm water. Bed bugs can't survive in temperatures above 50C.'Edited: 04 September 2013, 07:16