How to Protect Yourself from Bug Bites While Traveling
Last updated on 12/15/2020
Tips for Protection from Bug Bites While Traveling
Tropical destinations may be a vacation from reality, but travelers should still be vigilant to protect themselves against insects, even in paradise. Thriving in hot and humid climates, insects like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas may carry disease. They pose a serious threat to travelers by carrying viruses like malaria, yellow fever, Zika, dengue, chikungunya, Lyme, and others. One bite can cause serious illness, or at the very least, make for an itchy and uncomfortable few days. With this in mind, we put together a list of the 9 best ways to protect yourself from insects when traveling to these warm climates.
1. Insect Repellent
This may seem like an obvious option, but many bug sprays only protect from mosquitoes. It is recommended to buy repellent that defends against all insects, like an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent, to keep insects at bay. When applying, always follow the product label instructions. Reapply as directed. If using in addition to sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first, then the insect repellent.
2. Cover Your Skin
Long-sleeved shirts and long pants may not be fashionable when the weather is warm, but covering your skin with clothing is the best way to avoid insect bites. Moisture-wicking long-sleeve shirts are light and breathable, protecting not only from insect bites but also from the powerful rays of the sun. If wearing shorts, consider wearing knee-high socks to protect lower legs, ankles, and feet. Wear closed-toe shoes. Avoid brightly-colored clothing as vibrant colors attract insects. Light colored clothing makes insects that may be attached easier to spot. Keep in mind that some bugs can bite through thin fabric. For additional safety, wear clothing pre-treated with permethrin, a topical insecticide.
3. Tuck in Your Clothes
This may not be the most fashion-forward style, but tucking your shirt into your pants is an important aspect of insect protection. Not only should you tuck your shirt in, but tucking your pants into your socks can be even more helpful. This may attract some odd looks from fellow travelers, but this action will seal off a potential crevasse that insects can crawl into and hide. It will be worth the fashion faux pas if it prevents ticks from crawling up your leg under your pants.
4. Maintain Screen Windows and Doors
It’s very common to have a small tear or two in screen door and windows, particularly in high traffic areas. Inspect any screens upon arrival and repair any damage as soon as possible. If staying at a resort, alert the maintenance crew. Insects can take advantage of the slightest opening in a screen to get into wherever you’re staying.
5. Use Air Conditioners
When looking for ways to keep cool inside during the summer, air conditioning is a bit more costly than keeping your windows and doors open. However, the extra expense may be worth the price when considering that open doors are inviting entrances for mosquitos and other insects.
6. Keep Trash Covered Up
For Airbnb travelers and summer house renters: If you spend a lot of time outside, there’s a good chance that some leftover food may be left behind. Be sure to pick up all trash and put it in a covered garbage can. If the can is not covered or food waste left in the open, it is guaranteed to attract insects.
7. Drain Standing Water
Insects are attracted to small puddles of water that have been sitting for a long time. For example, water left in wheelbarrows, buckets or birdbaths will attract bugs. Therefore, make sure that you replace or pour out any standing water found near where you’re staying.
8. Sleep Under a Mosquito Net
When traveling to an exotic location where insect-borne diseases are prevalent, it may be wise to sleep in a bed with a permethrin-treated mosquito net over it. This will provide you with some peace-of-mind when you head off to bed. If staying at a resort, request one from your concierge.
9. Educate & Planning
Knowledge is power, and education of a possible threat is the best way to prevent future problems. Before leaving for your trip, be aware of the specific threats in your travel destination and obtain any necessary immunizations to reduce the risk of contracting locally contained diseases. Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or a licensed healthcare provider to determine the most up-to-date vaccination needed for the area to which you are traveling, and work with them to finalize your immunization plans and administration. Educate yourself on specifics of insects residing in your destination and what risks they pose to visitors. Know where to expect them, what environments they thrive in, and their most active hours so you can take extra precautions against them at peak times. Be able to recognize the symptoms of a bite or sting, know how to treat them, and know when to seek attention from a doctor. If traveling abroad, consider taking out travel medical insurance in advance of your trip to cover any costly medical bills you may incur if a visit to a doctor is necessary.