Bedbugs, Head Lice, and Mold: 7 Reasons Travelers Skip the Hotel

I have a pretty high tolerance for grossness so I can’t say that staying at a hotel has ever really bothered me. Ignorance is bliss I guess. Still, I thought this was a pretty interesting article so I’m anxious to know, do you worry about these things, and does it influence where you stay?


That’s about all you can say in regards to some hotel rooms that are just unfit for inhabitants. That’s also one of the main reasons why many travelers choose to skip their hotel stay altogether. Some hotels do try to alleviate the problems. Other hotels don’t try at all. Based on the following seven frequently found reasons, travelers choose to simply not deal with the grungy accommodations found at many hotels and decide to go the vacation home route instead.

Adolescent bed bug
photo credit: StarMaster

1) Bed Bugs

Although bed bugs are common, they are not something you want to have greet you at your hotel room. Not only will a case of bed bugs itch and annoy you, but they can also travel with you, attaching themselves to your clothes and eventually finding their way into your suitcase. The best way to spot any evidence of bed bugs? Check the crease of the mattress and the bed’s baseboard for signs of any bed bugs skin, shells, and waste. There is more where that came from.

2) Stained Sheets

Housekeeping may forget to change the bed linen, and still may not do it unless you say something about it. Stained sheets are unacceptable and are a sure sign that no attention has been given to the room. If you find dirty sheets in your room, complain to the hotel manager, and maybe even watch the staff while they change the linen. Also, check the top bedspread to make sure it has been laundered. In questionable hotels, it often isn’t.

texture110 ttv stains
photo credit: Nasos3

3) Dirty Rooms

You can tell that the room is dirty when you first walk into it especially if there is an odor or a stale smell. But the dead giveaway is full trash cans, dirty counters, and dirty bathrooms.

4) Hair

Not your hair, but the hair from the previous occupant: you may find it on the bathroom counter or in the shower drain. Not good. When a room is serviced, things like hair in the drain stops are usually removed, but if hair remains in the bathroom, there are germs waiting to happen.

#537 Handprint
photo credit: Mikael Miettinen

5) Hand Prints

Sticky hand prints from small children and adults alike can be found in common area places like banisters, door knobs, and guard rails, and they can be very disgusting. These are a sure sign that the area hasn’t been cleaned.

6) Head Lice

Once you get a case of head lice, it can be a real nuisance to try and get rid of it. Picking up a case of head lice from hotel rooms usually means that the linen was not washed in soapy hot water.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks

7) Germy Areas

What people do in their hotel rooms is their business, and that’s the way it should stay! You shouldn’t have to walk into your hotel room and be able to tell what things the previous occupants did there.

These seven reasons are enough to discourage most travelers from even considering a hotel stay. But what is the alternative? Vacation rentals may be one, where the amenities are more like home and much nicer than those questionable hotels.

Jennifer Williams is a writer, turned traveler, turned blogger, who has traded in her nomadic ways for a laptop and comfy couch. You can find her on Twitter, @JtotheWilliams.

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21 thoughts on “Bedbugs, Head Lice, and Mold: 7 Reasons Travelers Skip the Hotel”

  1. I once stayed in a hotel in India where my blanket was encrusted with dirt, lol. At first I thought I felt itchy because it was a wool blanket, but no, it just hadn’t been washed…ever. I now like to carry a light-duty sleeping bag wherever I go.

  2. i’ve been using and for research into places to stay, I like tripadvisor because of the sheer volume of feedback. Fodors has some really nice people willing to help with itineraries and choices based on cleanliness. I’m trying to suppress my gross out factor and go with the flow so to speak.

  3. Being a person that gets grossed out easily, I try to ignore the thought of bedbugs and other things. The majority of hotels I have stayed in have been pretty clean. I do agree that vacation rental homes may be the cleaner alternative, but they are also more expensive as well.

  4. I guess the best advice is to read reviews on websites like tripadvisor. People seem more than willing to share any bad/gross experiences. My friends and I used tripadvisor when booking our trip to Thailand and Cambodia (and again looking for hotels in Northern California) and loved all the places we stayed!

  5. Wow that is just gross! I cant imagine traveling and having to spend a night in a place with bedbugs and mold. How could you even get comfortable in places like that and why would they not bother trying to take care of the problems.

    1. I’m guessing/hoping these are mostly very cheap places with no motivation to clean themselves up. That, or lazyness.

  6. I have a pretty high tolerance for grossness as well, so I’m big on the ignorance is bliss thing. I did find out right after I arrived in a Paris hostel that apparently all over the review boards, people were complaining about bed bugs. Oh well–I just hoped for the best and luckily didn’t have any issues! I figure my high tolerance for grossness has translated into a very strong immune system–I barely ever get sick!

  7. Great post. What people need to know is Bed bugs in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and long island are just starting. Remember if you think you have Bed Bugs call an expert.

  8. i’m planning my trip across n. america and came across your blog. i have to make decisions about hotels/motels vs. hostels. so far it’s about 50/50. i have found some great hostels in the bigger cities.i’ll be using an allersac wherever i stay so i’m not so worried about grossness. my biggest concern is safety because i’m by myself. loved your Angkor Wat posts, hopefully i’ll get there next year.

    1. Sounds like a fun trip- and I’ve slept in motels all over the country no problem at all, so I’m sure you will be okay!

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