Destinations, Europe, Italy

Our Europe Bed Bug Scare, An AirBnb Horror Story

There’s nothing worse than waking up in an AirBnb with bites all over your body. Immediately, you imagine the worst: Bed bugs.

You Google, “Bed bug bites,” “Signs of bed bugs,” and “What to do if your AirBnb has bed bugs.” That feeling of panic and uncertainty is horrific. Your gut reaction is to get out and get out quick. Don’t. If you truly have a bed bug situation on your hands, you will only be making it worse if you flee and bring them with you to the next place. Stay calm. Bed bugs aren’t dangerous, they’re just icky.


Our Story

When we arrived at our AirBnb in Monterosso, Italy it was a steep climb up to our  3rd floor room. Gorgeous views, lots of vegetation, and tons of bugs.

The next day I noticed six red itchy bites on my back in two little rows of three. If you’ve ever researched bed bugs, you know that they bite in rows of three; breakfast, lunch and dinner, they call it. It looked like two bed bugs went to town on me while I was sleeping.

Thankfully (and unfortunately), we had a bed bug incident three years ago (that’s a story for another time). My husband and I knew exactly how to search for bed bugs.


Time to check the bedding

So here we are in Monterosso, panicking just as we did three years ago. We ripped the sheets off the bed and began searching for rust colored stains. For those who are unfamiliar, bed bugs leave behind rust stains as they scurry through your bedding. (Don’t Google WHY the stain is rust colored, just know that it is.) No stains: phew. Then, we scanned the edges of the mattress for actual bugs: nothing. We searched the sheets, pillows, floor and our luggage. All clear.

Let’s flashback to the day before. We had sat outside without bug spray upon arriving to our AirBnb. Mosquitoes were everywhere. The first thing we did when we got to town was buy mosquito spray. While I don’t remember getting bit on my back, it’s more likely that that’s what happened and that I didn’t notice until the morning after.

The main determining factors: my bites itched like mad. Bed bug bites are not especially itchy. Also, my husband was bitten while we were on the patio the next day, his bites looked very similar to mine.

My husband and I were able to stay calm during this high stress situation. Not everyone is so lucky. Bed bugs are terrifying if you haven’t dealt with them and it’s hard to know where to start. Here are some tips:

Look for the signs

  1. Bug bites in a line of three, very close together
  2. Bites that are not itchy, but resemble mosquito bites
  3. Bites in areas exposed while you sleep (legs, arms, feet)
  4. Rust colored stains on mattress or bedding.

What to do next

  1. Notify the home owner immediately
  2. Grab your items that were near the bed and begin searching them for signs of bugs
  3. Wash all of your clothes in hot water, and dry on high heat (this may be difficult in Europe, ask the home owner for help)
  4. Keep your belongings far away from the bed and off of the ground, preferably in an area where you don’t lounge (bathroom, kitchen).

What NOT to do

  1. Put your already exposed clothing into your luggage, don’t risk contaminating your entire suitcase
  2. Move into another hotel or AirBnb, you will just bring them with you
  3. Panic. It’ll be ok.

Just writing this post gave me the heebie jeebies. If you’ve been exposed to bed bugs while you’re vacationing, you’re really in the best situation you can be in. Wash your clothes and check your luggage thoroughly. If you’re still nervous that they’re tagging along on your vacation, toss your entire suitcase upon arrival before walking into your home. Trust me, it’s not worth the stress. Don’t let those suckers in your house!

Thanks for reading,


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