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Any thoughts about bed bugs?

vpwalsh829

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Time of past OR future Camino
May 2012 Leon-Santiago; Sep 2022 St. Jean-Moxia.
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
 
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Ianinam

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CF 2013 / CP 2018
Cleaning and sanitizing an albergue doesn't really help .... if one pilgrim brings bedbugs to one of our dormitories we have bedbugs, as 'simple' as that. Though ... it isn't simple at all: when we suspect a bed of bedbugs we start a thouroughly steaming and cleaning procedure, and we will check that bed and the other beds in the neighbourhood during the week that follows, of course.
 

Rick M

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April ('16,'18, '19, 22)
Sept 21
Don't worry about bed bugs. I have encountered them once (in a hotel in Paris!) in five Caminos. Met a half dozen other pilgrims who had run ins with them on the trail. It's no big deal, except you need to throw all of your stuff in a dryer for a half hour to make sure you are not transporting the little buggers to the next town. The permethrin sheet, as far as I can tell, does mostly nothing. I took one with me the first time, and promptly tossed it out when I got home.
 

C clearly

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This thread has now been tagged with "bed bugs" if you click on that tag at the top of the thread under the title, you will get more thoughts about bed bugs than you ever want to read!

I suppose that Covid measures (the cessation of travel more than cleaning) might have led to a decrease in the bedbug population along the route, but I expect it quickly returned to normal.
 
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J Willhaus

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Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
As hospitaleros/as we check for bed bugs daily, but as @Ianinam mentioned, it only takes one pilgrim to bring them into the albergue/hotel. If a bed bug wants to bite you, it will not be deterred by permethrin, but it might die later in your pack before you get to the next albergue. There are several good threads on the forum about bedbugs. They are not a reflection of how clean someplace is. If you do get bitten, please tell the hospitalera so they can help you get rid of them. Heat is what kills them so often we can put your clothes in a hot dryer or set your pack in the hot sun in a black plastic trashbag.
 
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This September will be my seventh visit to Spain, walking on various Caminos. I have found that finding a "Hot" clothes dryer has been a rare thing for me. Large towns and cities OK, but villages and Albergues, not so much. Often there will be a clothes washer, and water extractor, but no dryer, or one running on 120V, not 220V which is necessary for high heat.
 

J Willhaus

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2016, 2022
This September will be my seventh visit to Spain, walking on various Caminos. I have found that finding a "Hot" clothes dryer has been a rare thing for me. Large towns and cities OK, but villages and Albergues, not so much. Often there will be a clothes washer, and water extractor, but no dryer, or one running on 120V, not 220V which is necessary for high heat.
Still please tell the hospitalera/o as they may have access to resources that are not normally available to pilgrims to help treat this problem. I am seeing more clothes dryers in or nearby the albergues where I volunteer. (Voltage in Spain is 230V I believe for all appliances.)
 

RJM

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As a whole bedbugs aren't worth concerning about on the Camino but it's worth it to inspect the albergue bed and surroundings before you sleep. If it looks dodgy, leave and find somewhere else to stay.
Also an albergue could be bedbug free when you arrive only to be contaminated when other pilgrims arrive later and bring some with them in their backpacks. I've seen pilgrims dump all the contents from their pack on the floor next to the beds. If there's bedbugs in their stuff they'll crawl out and get on you and or your stuff. I carry a trash bin bag liner my pack can fit in. Sometimes I'll put my pack in it and cinch it up when it's next to my albergue bed.
 
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CarolamS

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2019
I haven't read through the other threads but was bitten very badly in Reykjavik in July. My bites did not appear instantly but as I had more bites appearing each day for 3 days it did indicate to me where I'd been bitten as we'd moved each night after leaving Reykjavik. Apparently bites can take up to 14 days to appear. Boy, were they itchy!!

I went through my stuff really thoroughly. (I know what to look for after encountering them in Sienna.) I found no evidence in my kit but I still treated it once home. Most things were put inside black plastic sacks and left in my conservatory which was kept closed to increase the heat. It was a heat wave here at the time so it did get very hot. Several days later I went through everything again and still found no evidence of infestation. So I am really hoping I wasn't responsible for infesting anywhere else I stayed before I knew I'd been bitten.

I told the place I was staying in when I discovered the bites. I also emailed the place in Reykjavik and they checked the apartment but didn't find anything. (I don't think they're easy to find in daytime.) They were going to leave out sticky pads. Bed bugs are a new problem in Reykjavik so I don't think they are very experienced in how to deal with them.

It's hard to remember not to spread our stuff about but it is important. Prevention is always so much better that trying to cure a problem.
 

dougfitz

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I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks.

I have tried a treated sheet, but didn't find it very effective. It was difficult to keep in place on the bed, and it seemed to me wasn't going to offer any real protection when it had stopped covering the mattress.

I treat my sleeping bag liner with permethrin. To prevent direct contact of 'wet areas' of my body with the treated sheet, I slept in a light pair of shorts, and don't wrap the sheet over my head. My reading of the literature is that there is very little transfer of permethrin to the skin once the treated fabric has dried, and the permethrin molecule has bonded to the fibres. I understand your concerns about skin contact, but I think they are misplaced.
 
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Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Permethrin and diatomaceous earth: Bedbugs will bite you before they (maybe) die.

Deet and essential oils: Bedbugs will be a bit dizzy when they bite you. You won't care about being bit though because some nauseous fellow pilgrim will kill you in your sleep first.

Try a neoprene wet suit.
 
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Del Norte 2018 & 2019
Camino de Torres 2022
Still please tell the hospitalera/o as they may have access to resources that are not normally available to pilgrims to help treat this problem. I am seeing more clothes dryers in or nearby the albergues where I volunteer. (Voltage in Spain is 230V I believe for all appliances.)
You're absolutely correct. I had forgotten. Lo Seinto ;)
 
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trecile

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I went through my stuff really thoroughly. (I know what to look for after encountering them in Sienna.) I found no evidence in my kit but I still treated it once home.
I think that it's important to treat you gear while you are still on the Camino before you return home just to make sure that you aren't inadvertently transporting bed bugs from albergue to albergue!
It's really quite easy to use a hot dryer to heat treat your fabric items. It's not necessary (or advisable in the case of many types of fabric) to wash them first.
You can also use the plastic trash bag method on warm days on the Camino.
 

Gerard Griffin

Active Member
Everybody gets them eventually but usually they're not a bother, mosquitoes are far worse.

Chuck all your clothes in a drier and everything else in a binbag in the sun for a while, and that's it ... Gone. I met a French pilgrim once who was going to quit the Camino when the critters alighted on her. But really, they're not worth any fuss.
 

CarolamS

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Everybody gets them eventually but usually they're not a bother, mosquitoes are far worse.
Easily said but not necessarily true. I react very badly to mosquito bites but rarely get more than half a dozen. I had well in excess of 50 bedbug bites I just could not count them all and the itchiness nearly drove me to distraction. They bite in rows or little clumps, very close groups of bites. Farmacias are easy to find on Camino but far less so in the Westfjords of Iceland.

I do wonder if increased exposure can increase your reaction. I assume I was bitten in Sienna as there was plenty of infestation evidence, however I had no noticeable bites then. People's reactions vary, can our own reaction vary?

May you all stay bite free 🙏
 
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Camino Frances May 2022
While I saw older evidence of bed bugs in a couple albergues, I never saw any new evidence. I diligently checked the mattresses at each stop and I always kept my pack on the floor and never the bed. Never once did I see or experience a bed bug.

I had read so much about them beforehand that I was nervous, but I honestly wouldn't be too concerned about them.
 
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I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Never ran into any over five Caminos. Good pilgrim etiquette helps with prevention like never placing back packs or anything that’s been sitting on the ground on beds.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese 2017+2022, Frances 2021, Ingles 2022
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Also good to check your belongings on bedbugs before you leave home so you don’t bring them into Spain. After all bedbugs are everywhere!
 

Schamber

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May and June 2022
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
We got back July 10. Didn’t see any bed bugs.
 

C clearly

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Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Silk bedsheets work.
Yes, silk is a very nice fabric for sheets. Since it is very light weight, it is a good choice for a sheet that you need to carry in your pack. However, there is no evidence that silk fabric is more effective than cotton or polyester fabric for deterring bedbugs.

never placing back packs or anything that’s been sitting on the ground on beds.
This is good etiquette for reasons of general cleanliness. I never really understood the logic of connecting it to bedbug control. Bedbugs are fully capable of walking from the floor to the bed, following the carbon dioxide trail of the human sleeping there.
 
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13 Caminos. Bit once personally. But I did see a sweet young wholesome Peregrina get her stuff demolished... story goes like this:

I think it was like 2015 or so, they are starting to all blend together in memories so I can't be sure. I had met a charming age appropriate Peregrina somewhere between Leon and Astorga. We were walking together and decided to spend the night in Foncebadon, or whatever it's called. There was a Donativo there, run by a French order. I could be wrong about the city, but around there (and as previously described "where" doesn't really matter).

I remember the first thing I thought was odd was that we were forbidden to carry our backpacks upstairs to the dorm. Odd.

Next thing I noticed was a sleeping bag drying on a line outside in the little courtyard. Never seen that before.

Last thing I noticed was this sweet little young Perigrina (like early 20's) waking up shrieking beneath me (I was in the top bunk sleeping well.)

I woke up to notice the hospitaleros consoling her, it was like 4am, her crying profusely, and the hosts had tweezers in their hands as they were extracting little bugs from her sleeping bag.

I climbed down from my bunk and got the heck out of there completely, despite it being before daylight. As I was leaving I saw the hospitalero sobbing... he said something to the effect of "we're gonna have to close a week early, we just wanted one more week." Serious. True. Scary.

I never saw the age appropriate one again.

My advice, look out for weird, out of the ordinary situations where somebody may "know" they have a problem but cling on despite.

Otherwise, they've never been a problem.
 
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The point of the story is that you can't always trust hospitaleros to do the right thing, as with any human. They knew they had a problem but invited us to attend regardless. One time, only once, but now at least I understand I have to have an eye out. That's it. 99% of hospitaleros: no issue.
 

Anamiri

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Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Don't connect 'cleanliness' with 'bedbugs'.
I suspect they dont care if the area is clean or not, what they are looking for is a meal - provided by a breathing pilgrim. Mostly they arrive as hitchhikers. Not there one day, there the next - probably carried in on a pack.
I spray my sleeping bag and my pack, but not my liner. However I have a habit of sleeping with my arms out, so that's where I've been bitten. And of course they can walk across a sleeping bag to reach skin.
It takes a while for permethrin to actually kill them. But at least I know that any will die on the long flight back home.
Take something to ease the itch if you do get bitten.
Antihistamines help too.
If you do encounter them, albergues seem to be better at dealing with them than hotels and apartments.
You'll need to put everything in a dryer at heat, so it is good to check that your belongings will survive that treatment.
 
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cbacino

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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Just check the bed before you settle in. Bedbugs leave signs, and you may even see them if present. I just finished 900 miles in Spain without incident, but have been bedbugged three times: once on the Via Francigena, once on the Norte, and once in a motel in Nebraska. Good luck.
 

dougfitz

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Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Everybody gets them eventually but usually they're not a bother, mosquitoes are far worse.

Chuck all your clothes in a drier and everything else in a binbag in the sun for a while, and that's it ... Gone. I met a French pilgrim once who was going to quit the Camino when the critters alighted on her. But really, they're not worth any fuss.
This just isn't true for some people. My godson spent three days in Burgos Hospital being treated for his severe reaction to bedbug bites. He was much more rigourous after that checking for bedbugs where ever he stayed.
 

Snowflake5090

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Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Didn’t experience any on the Camino Frances this year. Every Albergue I stayed at was spotlessly clean.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2023
The point of the story is that you can't always trust hospitaleros to do the right thing, as with any human. They knew they had a problem but invited us to attend regardless. One time, only once, but now at least I understand I have to have an eye out. That's it. 99% of hospitaleros: no issue.
Saw a bunch of bed frames enjoying a sun bath outside one albergue. Initially thought that it was a bit odd and then it clicked.

My only encounter with the critters was when I was reluctantly admitted at an albergue. The guy had initially said that they didn't have room but then changed his mind.

This puzzled me as I was the only one in a bigish room but there were other pilgrims in other rooms so forgot about it as I was already feeling very unwell (another story).

Woke up the next morning and noticed one sauntering across the wall above my bed. I managed to crush it and thought, maybe I should have tried to catch it to show the hospitalero but too late.

I checked my body best I could, bit hard to see my back. Couldn't see any bites. Went downstairs to tell the hospitalero and someone new was on duty. She was reading a newspaper. I told her and she looked up briefly, shrugged her shoulders, asked if I wanted breakfast and when I said no went back to reading the newspaper.

I figured that they knew that they had them in at least that one room and maybe they had treated it recently but they were clearly still there.

When I got to my next stop for the night I advised the young girl checking us in but she said that she had no idea what to do about it so I borrowed some clothes from the discard pile and chucked all my stuff in the dryer.

Didn't see one again.
 

biarritzdon

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When I served at San Anton, I would hang the clunky old army blankets out in the sun every day or two.
 

J Willhaus

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Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Actually hanging them in the sun is a pretty effective way to sanitize them because of the ultraviolet light. They may not be "clean" (as in dirt actually removed), but surface bacteria are killed. I don't think it is hot enough to kill bed bugs though unless you put them in a black plastic bag where the heat will be more intense. Even that may not work depending on the ambient temperature outside.
 
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2012
Actually hanging them in the sun is a pretty effective way to sanitize them because of the ultraviolet light. They may not be "clean" (as in dirt actually removed), but surface bacteria are killed. I don't think it is hot enough to kill bed bugs though unless you put them in a black plastic bag where the heat will be more intense. Even that may not work depending on the ambient temperature outside.
And worth bearing in mind that our constant companions do not live in blankets. They’ll take their shelter from the revealing light of day in narrow crevices, cracks in the stonework, the start-gaps in old wooden bed frames and the like. Some fuzzy bunch of sheep wool or woven Egyptian finest offers them no protection from predators or that squishing thumb. They’ve been on the planet at least as long as we have. They may not quite match average human intelligence but they ain’t stupid either
 
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And worth bearing in mind that our constant companions do not live in blankets
Ok, looked it up. Apparently they evolved like 115 million years ago, About 50 million years before our mammalian friends had a chance to take over after the impact near today's Mexico gulf. Regardless, just wash and dry the blankets
 

trecile

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PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
What to look for and how they might be caught in the future.
While I'm waiting for this anti-bedbug material I will continue to treat the inside of my backpack, my sleeping gear, and all of my cloth stuff sacks with permethrin. Although it doesn't repel them or kill them on contact it should kill them if they spend some time in contact with my treated gear.

 
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CarolamS

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Time of past OR future Camino
2019
While I'm waiting for this anti-bedbug material I will continue to treat the inside of my backpack, my sleeping gear, and all of my cloth stuff sacks with permethrin. Although it doesn't repel them or kill them on contact it should kill them if they spend some time in contact with my treated gear.
Does one permethrin treatment before you leave home last the whole Camino Frances? What about if you wash your gear?
 

CarolamS

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Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Ok, looked it up. Apparently they evolved like 115 million years ago, About 50 million years before our mammalian friends had a chance to take over after the impact near today's Mexico gulf. Regardless, just wash and dry the blankets
Many of us carry lightweight alternatives and don't need the blankets. Blankets are not something easy to wash every night in the best of circumstances! Besides blankets are not where bedbugs live.
 

dougfitz

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Does one permethrin treatment before you leave home last the whole Camino Frances? What about if you wash your gear?
It should, but longevity depends on the application method. My recollection is that spray applications should remain effective for half a dozen or washes. If you soak, that will last many times longer, enough for any clothing to be washed daily on the Camino.
 

trecile

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It should, but longevity depends on the application method. My recollection is that spray applications should remain effective for half a dozen or washes. If you soak, that will last many times longer, enough for any clothing to be washed daily on the Camino.
I don't treat my clothing, and most of the things that I do treat - inside of backpack, cloth stuff sacks and sleeping gear don't get washed at all, or maybe just a couple of times while on Camino.
 

dougfitz

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I don't treat my clothing, and most of the things that I do treat - inside of backpack, cloth stuff sacks and sleeping gear don't get washed at all, or maybe just a couple of times while on Camino.
It wasn't clear from the question whether it was about both clothing and equipment like bedding. Treated clothing isn't generally going to be effective against bedbugs unless one is sleeping fully clothed! It is more likely to be used where mosquitos, ticks or other insects are a problem during the day, and even then as one part of a protection regime with an insect repellent.
 
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CarolamS

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Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I have a couple of weeks before packing so I'm thinking of just treating my backpack. It should kill any 'passengers' between accommodation and also before coming home. I use waterproof stuff sacks or ziplock plastic bags to organize my contents. I haven't yet decided whether I'll treat my bedding, maybe just the inside of that stuff sack 🤔
 
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2012
As I hinted but didn't state clearly a long way above in this thread I follow the, collated, advice on this forum. Treat your Backpack, treat the OUTSIDE of your sleeping bag. Pay attention to your environment: look for bug sign and move on if you're not happy.

There's no HARM in treating stuff-sacks and the ilk.

There are no guarantees in this process. There are no guarantees in the Green Cross Code. Life, is full of, occasionally disappointing, surprises but you can reduce the likelihood of an occurrence by following good advice.

An alternative suggestion is to immerse yourself and all your camino gear in a 48 gallon vat of Lavender Oil for a month before your camino but I believe that resolution to be un-tested and I'm certainly not inclined to test it ;)
 
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Ok. So I received a reply from an unknown moderator (identity withheld?) that said they corrected my spelling. I am sorry about that, Apparently I spell Albergue wrong, despite my time spent there and seemingly a veteran. Sorry about that. But on the other hand, I would never lie ever about my experiences there.
 

trecile

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An alternative suggestion is to immerse yourself and all your camino gear in a 48 gallon vat of Lavender Oil for a month before your camino but I believe that resolution to be un-tested and I'm certainly not inclined to test it ;)

Could be a good idea for people who want to avoid other pilgrims on the trail.
 

J Willhaus

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Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I don't treat any of my stuff. I'll just deal with it when and if it happens. I spend a lot of time looking for these pests to try to keep them from bothering pilgrims and I am pretty careful about where I put my pack when I am a pilgrim myself.
 
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Jay Es

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finish the Via de la Plata abandoned lockdown 2020
I brought bed bugs home from a "posh" holiday, not a camino. Absolute nightmare, it cost us hundreds of Pounds to erradicate them from our bedroom. Since then, we bought a hot box. Every time we stay n a hotel or histel, no matter where in the world, we put out bags straight in it, unopened and not even allowed in the house, and they get cooked for 24 hours.
When in a hostel, I check the bed in hotels these days, the specks of bed bug poo are a give away in matress corners etc, dont put your things on a bed or on the ground, put your bag in a bin bag on a chair. using a sleeping bag that youcan shake out, wear the same bed clothes, pjs etc seperate from your day clothes, keep all your bedding and pjs in a roll top bag, seperated in your rucksack. and keep them clean, bed bugs love dirty clothes scattered on the ground or bed.
Be warned bedbugs are common on every camino Ive been on. I have done 4 over the years.last one in 2020 before lockdown. dont take your bag into your house without treating it when you get home. I was aheadhouse keeper at a 5 star hotel and never had to deal with them fortuneately, but you do hear horor stories. They are really hard to get rid of once you have them. they live for 18 month without a meal!
 

markie6

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2018, 2019 2022
Silk bedsheets work. As was said before. Bedbugs hitch a ride on other people's packs. The albergues do thier best to keep thier places safe and clean.
that and peregrinos putting their packs on their beds when they have been asked not to
 

phine2017

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
fall 2018
I have read several comments regarding bed bugs in the hostels/albergues. I would have thought the lodgings would be diligently cleaned and sanitized because of the potential spread of the Covid virus. Can any recently returned pilgrims comment on this? I am considering buying a permethrin treated bedsheet and laying it over the mattress, then sleeping in an untreated sleeping bag liner. I don't feel comfortable having my skin touching the permethrin bedsheet night after night for several weeks. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
My experience started 5 years ago. Although it’s not recent, I think it’s worth to share. I discovered my bed bug bites in Pamplona. Who know where I actually got bitten, it could have been from days earlier at SJPP. I only had 4 bites. They were small and mildly itchy. I immediately washed and dried everything! Fast forward 24 hours, I noticed that i had even more bites and my bites got more itchy and began to welt. Everyday I checked every inch of my body, backpack, clothing/shoes. I also throughly inspected my bed and walls around it. Unfortunately the bites on my back got so itchy and swollen that it was very difficult to carry my backpack. I definitely had an allergic reaction. I never even saw them. I had to take a day off to get to the nearest big town/city - Logrono to find a laundromat with industrial sized/heat dryer. For the rest of the camino I was bedbug free but psychologically I was worried about them every night. Nevertheless I had a wonderful time on the Camino that year and I walked all of the Frances except for the Meseta. I vowed to return someday.

Luckily I returned to the Camino a year later. I had accepted my susceptibility to bedbugs and I was prepared to battle them. I had used permethrin on ALL my stuff, I brought a Sea to Summit sleeping sac with “insect shield”,and I had a game plan to check every nook and cranny around my bed.

I started my 2nd Camino in Carrion De los Condes in an albergue with 11 beds. I checked my bed and surroundings. That night I felt bugs crawling on me and I quickly grabbed my flashlight. …and there it was. My first sighting of the bugs that had tortured me the year before. I was able to kill one of them. Proof to show to the Hospitalario. So I spent the day again washing and drying all my clothes. I did a short walk that day to the next town. By night the itchy welts we’re back and we’re unbearable. The next morning I caught a bus to Leon to find an industrial sized/heated clothes dryer. In the laundromat, I decided it was game over. My 2nd Camino only lasted 2 nights.

I’m now dreaming about my next attempt on the Camino. I have some ideas in mind, but here are somethings that I’ve learned and want to share:

1. Bed bugs are REAL
2. Some people get bitten but most people do not
3. Very few people have an allergic reaction. Of these, some may need hospital attention
4. Do everything you can to prevent getting bitten. Even though permethrin sheets didn’t work for me, I can say that I tried it.
5. If you get bedbugs. Do everything you can to kill them immediately. Do not bring them to the next albergue and absolutely do not bring them home!

The Camino is calling me back and I will try different ways to avoid the dreaded bugs.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
So I spent the day again washing and drying all my clothes

Just a reminder - it's not necessary to wash everything. It's the heat of the dryer that kills the bedbugs and their eggs. In fact, it's better for many items/fabrics to run the item through the hot dryer while it's dry, rather than wet to avoid shrinkage.
. Do everything you can to prevent getting bitten. Even though permethrin sheets didn’t work for me, I can say that I tried it.

As has been mentioned previously on this thread - permethrin is not a bed bug repellent and will not kill them immediately on contact, so they can get into a treated bag or sheet and bite you. Permethrin can kill bed bugs with prolonged contact over a a few hours - see the video in post #45.

If you get bedbugs. Do everything you can to kill them immediately. Do not bring them to the next albergue and absolutely do not bring them home!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
it could have been from days earlier at SJPP
I noticed that i had even more bites
Another reminder is that the reaction to the bites may emerge over several days. If bites keep appearing, it does not necessarily mean that you are still carrying bugs and getting new bites. It might just be a delayed reaction. Nevertheless, I would still want to repeat the treatment, just in case.
 
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Whatever other people have said, I like permethrin. I spray that stuff on my backpack and the outside of my sleeping bag, like every time I go.

And so it won't kill them immediately, apparently. Whatever. Kills them nonetheless. Makes me feel more comfortable knowing that I have at least tried.
 

LauraL

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
French (starting late July)
I recently completed the Francés and was very happy to have made it to Santiago with no bed bugs. I spent the night in Santiago, at albergue La Estación.
The day after, still in Santiago, around mid morning my fingers got itchy. Then one forearm. A bit later, my other arm. Clearly they were bed bug bites. Now I had the full Camino experience, I thought! 🤣
The bites felt exactly like mosquito bites for me - annoying but not serious.
The disappointing and concerning part of the story is that I called the albergue to let them know: "I was there last night and today I have all these bites, please check and do something so others don't get them too".
Their response: "You couldn't get them here, we don't have bed bugs here"
- How do you know?
- No one reported any problems here
- I am reporting it now
- But we don't have that problem here
- I am telling you, I've been bitten. When there's a problem someone is the first victim. Sounds like I was the first. It's up to you to prevent a second.

I have no confidence at all that they took it seriously.

I didn't have a chance to put everything in a dryer, but I did a good visual inspection of my gear and didn't see any bugs. I continued walking to the coast and back and was not bitten again.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
1. Bed bugs are REAL
2. Some people get bitten but most people do not
3. Very few people have an allergic reaction. Of these, some may need hospital attention
4. Do everything you can to prevent getting bitten. Even though permethrin sheets didn’t work for me, I can say that I tried it.
5. If you get bedbugs. Do everything you can to kill them immediately. Do not bring them to the next albergue and absolutely do not bring them home!
At the next albergue, inform the hospitalero at check-in that you have encountered them and ask for help in eliminating them. When we got such a report, we put the pilgrim's backpack and anything else that decency allowed¹ into a plastic bag with lots of spray. Then we escorted him her to the shower and bagged the clothes they handed out. Left clean ones from our stash for them to put on after. Washed and dried the clothes he/she arrived in at 60°C or hotter.

¹One Korean pilgrim who could not speak Spanish or English started stripping on the plaza, but we managed to stop him. Turned out his bugs were fleas.
 

Lleslie

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014)
Camino Via Podiensis (2018)
When we walked from Le Puy en Valey in 2014 a lot of the gites didn't allow backpacks in the dorms. We were each given a plastic basket/bucket to put what we needed from our packs and took that up to our rooms. Our packs stayed in a store room. A couple of places supplied large plastic bags to put our packs in, one sprayed a substance into the bag containing out packs and sealed it - presumably permethrin. Another gave me a small atomiser type pump to spray a crushed shell powder on my sleeping bag, apparantly this shreds their shell and another made us all hang our sleeping bags on the clothes line in the sunshine. Neither of us have been bitten on our two caminos and fingers crossed for the Portuguese next year. We do not pretreat any of our gear.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
A couple of places supplied large plastic bags to put our packs in, one sprayed a substance into the bag containing out packs and sealed it - presumably permethrin
More likely DEET. Permethrin needs to be applied in an open area and left to dry before touching it.
 
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