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BED BUGS-How Not to Get Them!

John Hussey

Active Member
There is a simple way to protect oneself from getting bed bugs, and that is the use of a chemical called Permethrin. This is a liquid which was designed for use by the US military to be applied to battle dress uniforms and equipment so as to protect the soldier from biting insects. This chemical is ideal for use by pilgrims as protection against bed bugs on the Caminos for a number of reasons:

First, for ease of application. Permethrin is not designed to be applied to clothing at the time of manufacture but rather afterward, either in the field by the user or prior to issue. This means the pilgrim can safely apply it to his or her clothing as well as-and likely much more importantly- to his or her own sleeping bag- so as to stop the insects from entering and attacking the user.

Second, because of how long it will last. Permethrin, once applied by the user to the fabric of one's clothing and equipment, will actually last throughout numerous washings and wettings from rain showers, because it was designed to attach itself to the fabric it is applied upon and last beyond such washings and rain showers before subsequent applications are required. This means that only one's clothing may require a subsequent treatment (depending upon how many times it is washed) but that one's sleeping bag, which will not be washed, will not.

The Product:

Civilian Sources: ... ant/36704/ ... B0009KMWES

Permethrin FAQ's:

Safety: ... 1Sep01.pdf

Were I to do another Camino, I would use it because it works. Plus, I believe I would suggest one other thing:

Since the multiple use of the same mattresses, pillows, and beds themselves seem to be the common link for the bed bugs' spreading and seeking other fresh hosts for their nightly feasting of fresh blood, one might forgo the complete use of any of those conveniences and instead sleep upon a lightweight backpacking mat like a Thermarest that the pilgrim would carry with them. And, the mat itself would be treated with the above chemical.

It would be my suggestion that If the problem persists upon the Caminos, then this might be the only way that all of the albergues might rid themselves of those unwanted biting insects. Eliminate that common link-the beds- and have pilgrims sleep instead upon portable mattresses directly upon a clean, slick floor where the little devils would have no place in which to hide.. I remember doing that very same thing in one (or two?...) albergues that did not have beds but rather had the pilgrims use the albergues' vinyl covered foam mattresses upon the floor. It would be interesting to learn if those places had the same bed bug problem.

I shudder when I think of getting those bugs. But, not only would I hate to get those bugs upon me but more than that, I would really hate to bring them home with me.
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
one small issue for the hostels: you fit a lot more pilgrims into a small space by stacking them in bunks. Having them lie on the floor would cut capacity in half. That, and imagine the wails of the pilgs who are stiff and sore or otherwise cannot handle climbing into and upper bunk...what would they do if they had to sleep down low, on the floor? How would you get ém up and out in the morning?

Just wondering.
in bedbug-free Ponferrada with 190 pilgrims


Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Bed bugs are icky but they don't spread any diseases, and unlike fleas they hop off when they have done eating you. But the bites are very itchy. Antihistamine cream will help, such as Anthisan.

People talk about them a lot but they are not that common on the camino. Tell tale signs are tiny flicky black spots on the walls that look like tiny splats of ink - that is their poop! Or you might see a drop of blood where someone splatted one. Their bites are in characteristic lines. They look a bit like a cross between a woodlouse and a ladybird (ladybug) - but much smaller of course! I know all this from travel in Asia, not from the camino, by the way.

Don't be too worried about these bugs, if you get bitten that's unlucky, the main thing is to avoid at all costs bringing them back to your home. I put my sleeping bag in the freezer when I got home, washed all my clothes on hot and sprayed my bag with bug spray and left it outside overnight.


New Member
Here is a Non Toxic and chemical free product that can be used to repel Bed Bugs, Fleas, Ticks, Mites Head Lice. It will also kill and dissolve the eggs of these bugs. There are no chemicals so it can be sprayed directly on yourself, clothing, mattress, furniture etc.

A REFILLABLE 4 oz atomizer that delivers the perfect spray of BEST YET Insect Control Solution.

BED BUG CONTROL for Hotels, Motels, Homes, Condo's and Apartments.
Use it on the children, pets and yourself to eliminate <strong>Bed Bugs, Mosquito's, Fleas, Flies, Chiggers, No-See-Ums, Mites,</strong> and other biting insects. Make it your traveling companion when ever you leave.

Carry it in your purse or pocket. Made from non collapsible aluminum with a full neck opening for easy refill. Can be used as a scent cover by hunters while keeping biting pests away.

BEST YET is DEET FREE and will provide approximately 12 hours of protection. Fresh Cedar smell is not offensive and the solution will enhance skin condition rather than aggravate it.

BEST YET also dissolves the eggs and larvae. Kills Sugar and Fire Ants upon contact. Excellent for treatment of HEAD LICE and children and adults. BEST YET will not burn the scalp or destroy hair follicles such as chemical treatments are known do. Use BEST YET for parasite control in your home, barn, hotel/motel or any commercial establishment.
Available in 4 oz, 8 oz, 32 oz and gallon sizes.
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Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Don't get too scared of these things, you don't need to arm yourself with a whole battery of fearsome weapons of mass (insect) destruction. Normal insect repellent put on before bed will keep them off if they are really annoying (I did this on the sleeper trains in India but I didn't find it was ever needed on the Camino).

You can't be sure to avoid them entirely so stop worrying. Just be super careful not to take them home with you, or you'll be off on a treadmill of expensive pest control. Tumble drying is a good method of killing them, as is freezing for a couple of days.


New Member
I got Bug begs somewhere between Portomarin and Arzua :( I swelled because I react allergically.

I couldn't sleep properly in my Albergue the night all of the bites seemed to manifest so I got out of bed around 5 and hoped I would someone on the trail who would have something that would help. Obviously the Pharmacia was closed, so I figured my best bed was to walk and ask for support from other Peregrinos. (I started to walk on a whim while in Lourdes, France. I literally started walking with no preparation, so I had no first aid on me).

After a few no's, I got some anti-itch and it helped enough to get me walking. A few hours in a met a kind Australian couple I had dined with a few nights earlier who had all the meds and creams. They told what me what to do (wash everything in the next town, make it to the pharmacia and stick my backpack in the drier.

This solved my issue completely and except for some scars I still have (even after two months) it went away.

In retrospect, I would have treated my things before I walked and while I walked with a spray that is called


it is natural and smells pretty good. Bed Bugs hate it. I would douse my clothes and things in it.

I hope you never get a single bite. Aside from the bites I enjoyed every moment about the Camino and cannot wait to do it again.

Buen Camino!


Deleted member 3000

There is nothing in Rest Easy that you should expect to kill or repel bed bugs. The only tests for efficacy have been done by Rest Easy itself. In the battle against bed bugs, use anything that might help, but keep your expectations low for anything but permethrin and DEET. Just in case Rest Easy does not work for you, take some medicine to treat the bites you get!
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Millie Mochila

New Member all this discussion of bedbugs I realise that there could be some confusion. The Brits maybe refer to these insects as fleas, the US says bugs. They are not the same thing.

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
No same names in the UK.
Fleas jump. Bedbugs crawl. However both seem to like more than one bite at a time.
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I just re-read this thread, and to the person who suggests mats on the floor, they do not work. One of the worst places I saw people eaten by bedbugs was in Hornillos where they put people on floormats after the albergue was full. It was horrible.

Regarding chemicals, if you can use them, do so.
If you can not (like me) then read my blog and see how I have avoided getting bedbugs so far.
It's simple, inexpensive, and so far, it has worked for me.

One can not blame the albergues who TRY to keep this problem at bay unless the others also try. All it takes is one pilgrim carrying bugs and they leave them behind all along the Way. The way to fight this issue is education and cooperation. Education should happen when people get their credencial, in my opinion. I've met many many pilgrims who assumed (wrongly) that their welts were from some sort of super mosquito! :|

I also have talked to hospitaleros who were just beside themselves. Ave Fenix, for example, took all of their beds outside, sprayed the mattresses, sprayed the frames, BLOWTORCHED the frames, and had a clean albergue for about 3 days... until a group of pilgrims began again arriving from Astorga's San Javier, where I myself told the hospitalero there were bedbugs, and was responded to with a "shrug." That pissed me off! And whomever is in charge of the tourist industry in Spain should be pissed off too! Maybe once these bugs spread to more private homes in Spain, somebody will wake up.

It's certainly not just a problem in Spain, as has been said before. Bedbugs are rampant in many countries now. America has her share of them, they just keep it quiet. But you can find them all along the hotel routes if you do a Google search.. there is at least one website where people can report the hotels with the problem.

Anyway... if you don't want to use chemicals, and you don't want to get bugs, here's a link to my blog:

Buen Camino


Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2014)
Norte, Finisterre, Salvador, Primitivo (2015)
The music in this video makes it. "JDT International performs Test on Bed Bugs to show how permethrin-treated fabric immobilizes them":
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