The Carry-On Nobody Wants
(Updated October 2, 2003)
It's the one thing most travelers just don't think
about, but should: bugs! Yes, bugs, and specifically, ones that
become stowaways in your luggage. Hotels, cruiselines and airlines
don't like to talk about these little creatures. No matter how well
kept a hotel, cruise ship, or airplane appears to be, there are
always some bugs that manage to beat the extermination system. If
you travel enough you may unwittingly be carrying some of these
little critters in your luggage. Unfortunately, I have had to deal
with my share of "lug bugs," which can cause more trouble than you
can imagine once you get them home.
At the peak of my traveling days as a flight
attendant, I was staying in over 160 different hotels every year.
Most of the time the hotels were first-rate, and I never thought for
a moment that these seemingly spotless hotels could harbor creatures
that felt the need to travel with me. On one occasion at a fine
hotel in North Carolina, I watched in horror as three roaches
crawled into my briefcase. On another, I dealt with "Roachzilla" in
New York City. Fortunately, though, he didn't make it into my
luggage. On two different cruise vacations, I encountered unknown
creatures, and one time my crew and I boarded our 727 in Miami only
to run back off the plane, screaming hysterically, because of a
massive roach invasion of the galleys. The plane was so badly
infested that it was taken out of service for days.
After a trip to the Caribbean we noticed a critter in
our home that we had never seen before. My husband dealt with the
creature, then put it in a ziplock bag so we could show it to the
exterminator. When the exterminator arrived the next day, we showed
him the critter, which he declared was definitely not of a
local species. He then asked us about any traveling that we had done
recently. When we told him that we had been on a cruise ship and had
stayed at hotels in the Caribbean, he laughed and said that anyone
who does any amount of traveling, especially to warm humid climates,
may unknowingly bring bugs home in their luggage. The problem is
that they can then infest your home. He suggested the following tips
to keep these "lug bugs" at bay:
- Keep your luggage off the floor and on a luggage
- Keep your luggage zipped or locked at all times.
If you travel for extensive periods, particularly to warm, humid
destinations, wrap your suitcase in a plastic garbage bag when you
return home. Keep the bag on for two weeks. If any bugs have
infested your luggage, they and their eggs will be extinguished from
the lack of oxygen.
- Keep food out of your suitcase, or at
least keep it in tightly sealed containers or bags.
- Throw all
cardboard boxes away. Bugs lay eggs in corrugated boxes.
Right now I have three suitcases in plastic from our
trip to Mexico last month. I never take anything for granted
anymore. So, next time you are on a trip, take this advice, and
maybe you, too, won't get stuck with the "lug bug" -- and a $200
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