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Bed Bugs

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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
I am planning to do it in May this year and I would like to know if bed bugs are a serious problem in albergues and hostels.
Appreciate any advise/information
Bed bugs do not spread disease and while they are annoying and can be uncomfortable you don't need to fear them. Yes there are and will be bed bugs on the Camino. They are spread from place to place by people in packs and bedding. While they are not everywhere and in every bed, they are relatively common. If you find yourself bitten. Please inform the hospitalera and be sure to treat your clothes, pack and bedding before taking them to your next location.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino
Bed bugs do not spread disease and while they are annoying and can be uncomfortable you don't need to fear them. Yes there are and will be bed bugs on the Camino. They are spread from place to place by people in packs and bedding. While they are not everywhere and in every bed, they are relatively common. If you find yourself bitten. Please inform the hospitalera and be sure to treat your clothes, pack and bedding before taking them to your next location.
Thanks … what do you treat your gear with?
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Some people use permethrin, but it takes a long time to kill a bedbug with that stuff. They might die later in your pack after having already bitten you. I don't treat my gear at all. In the albergue we use steam guns when we clean as heat does kill the insects and is not toxic to humans. If you find yourself bitten, put your clothes and bedding in a hot dryer and put your non-clothing items in a black trash bag in the sun.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
One of the few good things about the pandemic is that many of the albergues whom didn´t opened theirs doors collaterally killed the bedbugs, if they had any. Others whom keep opened, due the anti covid measures deeply deinfected and fumigated theisr facilities more frequently.
In addition of that, the measures the pilgrims have taken did their work to not spreading those lovely pets.
I´d asked about this topic to many hospi friends of mine, and the answer have been the same:
Bad times for the bedbugs.
Buen camino to you all, honest people.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino
Some people use permethrin, but it takes a long time to kill a bedbug with that stuff. They might die later in your pack after having already bitten you. I don't treat my gear at all. In the albergue we use steam guns when we clean as heat does kill the insects and is not toxic to humans. If you find yourself bitten, put your clothes and bedding in a hot dryer and put your non-clothing items in a black trash bag in the sun.
Thanks 😊
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino
One of the few good things about the pandemic is that many of the albergues whom didn´t opened theirs doors collaterally killed the bedbugs, if they had any. Others whom keep opened, due the anti covid measures deeply deinfected and fumigated theisr facilities more frequently.
In addition of that, the measures the pilgrims have taken did their work to not spreading those lovely pets.
I´d asked about this topic to many hospi friends of mine, and the answer have been the same:
Bad times for the bedbugs.
Buen camino to you all, honest people.
Many thanks … that’s very reassuring-:)
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Bed bugs do not spread disease and while they are annoying and can be uncomfortable you don't need to fear them.

Well, bed bugs can be more than annoying, and uncomfortable. It depends upon your bodies reaction to them! I take an antihistamine while on my caminos to help prepare my my system for the reaction I will get when I get bitten. I have walked 9 times and been bitten on 7 of those occasions... on several casinos in multiple locations and on my first camino 40+ times in one location! I am a magnate. I get severe bites. So besides an oral antihistamine, I treat the bites with a topical application, (Benadryl roll on) which I use a few times a day.

The worst part is when I wake up in my room at 1-3am and realize I already have multiple bites? Now I make sure, I prepay my private room. So I can leave early if necessary. All of my belongings are in plastic, so I am not worried about my belongings. I have left a room at 3am and started walking rather than sitting up and waiting for the next attack, that would surely have (and has) happened. If I am sending a bag ahead, I also but that bag in a huge, heavy duty trash bag until we are ready to leave and then deet the outside of the bag, each morning before we depart, to prevent any bugs from hitching a ride in transport.

Yes, indeed for some of us, bed bugs can be a lot more than uncomfortable and annoying, if you bring them home with you, they can be a nightmare and quite expensive.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino
Well, bed bugs can be more than annoying, and uncomfortable. It depends upon your bodies reaction to them! I take an antihistamine while on my caminos to help prepare my my system for the reaction I will get when I get bitten. I have walked 9 times and been bitten on 7 of those occasions... on several casinos in multiple locations and on my first camino 40+ times in one location! I am a magnate. I get severe bites. So besides an oral antihistamine, I treat the bites with a topical application, (Benadryl roll on) which I use a few times a day.

The worst part is when I wake up in my room at 1-3am and realize I already have multiple bites? Now I make sure, I prepay my private room. So I can leave early if necessary. All of my belongings are in plastic, so I am not worried about my belongings. I have left a room at 3am and started walking rather than sitting up and waiting for the next attack, that would surely have (and has) happened. If I am sending a bag ahead, I also but that bag in a huge, heavy duty trash bag until we are ready to leave and then deet the outside of the bag, each morning before we depart, to prevent any bugs from hitching a ride in transport.

Yes, indeed for some of us, bed bugs can be a lot more than uncomfortable and annoying, if you bring them home with you, they can be a nightmare and quite expensive.
Thanks … some great advice
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Bedbugs do exist, and they are not rare on the Caminos. How much of a problem they are to you depends on your reaction to them.

Some people do not react to bites at all. Those are the people that will claim that the bed bug problem ist exagerrated and that they are very rare.

Some people have mild reactions (like small flea bites / mosquito bites). For those people they are annoying but no big problem. If you've been bitten, put all (!) your gear into a dryer for at least 30min on hot temperature, or wash at least at 60°C and dry then, to make sure you don't carry them somewhere else. They die at high temperature.

Some people have severe allergic reactions. In that case, you might need medical attention if bitten. If that's the case, you certainly want to make sure not to get bitten. Check beds and mattresses thouroughly. Use a sleeping bag or liner and try to cover yourself at night (they don't bitte through fabric). Put your "night gear" (sleeping bag/liner and pyjamas) in a waterproof dry bag seperate from all your other stuff. So if you get them into your sleeping gear they don't spread into the rest of your backpack. Also put your whole sleeping bag into a large garbage bag or dry bag at night, and far away from the beds, so that they don't crawl in and travel with you to the next place. Put your backpack and the drybag with your night stuff into the hot sun whenever possible as precaution.

I do have bad reactions to them. So I know what to look for, how to avoid them and how to deal with them... and still got bitten almost every time I walked.

They are stuff made from nightmares for me. Took me four years to unpack my things from the 2017 Camino (was packed airtight since then). They die after 1-2 years without a meal. I also put everything I carried in 2019 into a garbage can in Santiago and bought new clothes for travelling home. That's how paranoid I've become.

Bedbug ptsd 🤣 But I still walk. It's all worth it.

Hopefully you're one of those people who don't notice them. Good luck and a bedbug free Camino!
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Some people use permethrin, but it takes a long time to kill a bedbug with that stuff. They might die later in your pack after having already bitten you
Permethrin is not a deterrent or repellent, but after a couple of hours of exposure it will kill bedbugs.

That's why I treat my sleeping gear, the inside of my backpack, and all of my cloth stuff sacks.

If a bedbug gets inside my pack I don't want it coming out alive. I don't want to be the pilgrim unwittingly spreading bedbugs from Albergue to albergue.

Here's a video showing how bedbugs die when in contact with permethrin.

 
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Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
I’ve been on the Camino around 8 times. I’ve never been bitten once. I am very, very susceptible to mosquitoes and sand flies (not that these show up on the Camino) but this just indicates something. Bed bugs are around, obviously, but don’t let them put you off!
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I’ve been on the Camino around 8 times. I’ve never been bitten once. I am very, very susceptible to mosquitoes and sand flies (not that these show up on the Camino) but this just indicates something. Bed bugs are around, obviously, but don’t let them put you off!
I am also very susceptible to mosquitos, and react badly to their bites. But I have been bitten by bedbugs with almost no reaction. If the bites had been somewhere that I couldn't see them I may never have known.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
I’ve been on the Camino around 8 times. I’ve never been bitten once. I am very, very susceptible to mosquitoes and sand flies (not that these show up on the Camino) but this just indicates something. Bed bugs are around, obviously, but don’t let them put you off!

I've been bitten once in 2015, three times in 2017 and twice in 2019, despite all the measures I had taken against them. Reaction to the bites got worse every time and the last time it was so severe I had to take several strong medications for a week.

If you need to go to the hospital because of them it is really not funny.

I had several pilgrims make jokes of me because they had never been bitten before and thought I was crazy and exaggerating. One of them then stayed at a place that was totally infested and that pilgrim had about 200 bites the next day... one pilgrim I met that year managed to bring them home and needed an exterminator and new furniture after that.

I do check beds and have found signs of at least past infestations in probably 2/3 of the albergues I stayed at, at least.

You're lucky you don't react to them.

I do own a bedbug tent now (like a very fine mosquito net that is closed all around like a tent, easy to hang from the upper bunk) and hope that will help.

I am not put off by them, but I have to take it seriously.

The more pilgrims take precautions, whether they react to the bites or not, the better!
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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Time of past OR future Camino
2015,2016,2017,2018,2022, april 2023
I have been on the camino 4 times and never got bitten. I sleep in private rooms but know they can be in 5 star hotels too, so I'm not sure if that makes a difference. I do every night a "bedbug check" meaning lifting up any sheets on several places and inspect the seams of the mattress well. I do this in ANY hotel I sleep on every trip I go. I also put my backpack and clothes on a chair. Best of luck and have a great walk :)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2006 to date: Over 21 Caminos. See signature line
Some people use permethrin, but it takes a long time to kill a bedbug with that stuff. They might die later in your pack after having already bitten you. I don't treat my gear at all. In the albergue we use steam guns when we clean as heat does kill the insects and is not toxic to humans. If you find yourself bitten, put your clothes and bedding in a hot dryer and put your non-clothing items in a black trash bag in the sun.
Steam guns, what a great idea! I'd never heard of that. Where do you buy a steam gun, out of curiosity, Amazon? Thanks J Willhaus!
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Looks kind of like this. The ones we have used are already at the albergues. You fill them up with water and then let them heat up and use the "gun" attachment to shoot the steam into cracks and crevices in walls, floorboards, bed frames, etc. We clean and disinfect first and look for bedbug signs and then steam.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2017
Stop packing your fears. Simply do a bed check and refuse to allow such worries to be a thief of your joy. BTW Permethrin won’t deter them: it just poisons and kills them *later.* And I don’t know about you, but I see no wisdom in exposing yourself nightly to that.
 

Jodean

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 CF, 17.04.-26.05.22 CF
15.04-31.05.23 CF
Watching that film, though those bugs did not die, they also could not run away so we can't tell if they were deterred or not. They certainly did not look well almost immediately after being exposed and it looked like they wanted to get out. They were not going to on on about their "business" of biting, they were staggering and falling down.
Will go ahead and spray my back pack and sleeping bag like always, as well as check every bed. I sleep better.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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Rozenn

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April/may 2022 SJPP to Santiago
Permethrin is not a deterrent or repellent, but after a couple of hours of exposure it will kill bedbugs.

That's why I treat my sleeping gear, the inside of my backpack, and all of my cloth stuff sacks.

If a bedbug gets inside my pack I don't want it coming out alive. I don't want to be the pilgrim unwittingly spreading bedbugs from Albergue to albergue.

Here's a video showing how bedbugs die when in contact with permethrin.

Nice music for the bedbugs funeral !!!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (Sep-Oct 2016). Camino Baztan to Trindad de Arre, joined the Frances (Sept-Oct 2019).
One important thing to remember: If you discover that you've been bitten, there's a chance that you're carrying multiple bedbugs on your person, your gear, (and if you're traveling with someone close) your companion. Essentially, you've become a carrier. It's important that you think about taking care not only of yourself but other peregrinos. When you arrive at your next destination, you can tell the hospitalero at check-in that you think you've been exposed, and that you probably have bedbugs. I've never experienced a pilgrim being turned away because of this. In fact in the past, hospitaleros would generally go out of their way to help, by offering to clean your gear while you take a shower, supplying you with towels and some temporary clothing - and when my wife and I had our bedbug experience, the hospitaleros supplied us with some clean things which were "cast-offs" left by other peregrinos (we looked a little like John Travolta and Samuel Jackson in that memorable wash-up scene from Pulp Fiction) while we waited for our own clothes to wash and dry).
One reason hospitaleros are so eager to help is that bedbugs on a single person can actually lead to an entire albergue being infested and consequently closed until it can be completely cleaned. In the peak of the 2019 autumn season, at one of the major end points on the Frances, the local municipal albergue (with upwards of 90 beds - of a total of around 225 albergue beds in the town) was shut down with a bedbug infestation for a couple of weeks, which consequently made it near impossible to get a bed in that town for that entire time.
But the point is - you'll find on the one hand there's a lot of personal shame attached to getting bedbugs, and there's an inclination to keep it a secret; and on the other hand, a degree of indifference about what some people will consider only a nuisance. You have to make your own decision, of course, but if you do keep it secret, it's more than likely that you will spread the bug wherever you go. And if ignored, these little pests could increase and multiply at a biblical pace.
But that's the thing about the Camino. Almost every other person on the Way, particularly our hosts, will want to help you in any manner that they can, even if it's just to remind you that it's all going to be okay.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
One important thing to remember: If you discover that you've been bitten, there's a chance that you're carrying multiple bedbugs on your person, your gear, (and if you're traveling with someone close) your companion. Essentially, you've become a carrier. It's important that you think about taking care not only of yourself but other peregrinos. When you arrive at your next destination, you can tell the hospitalero at check-in that you think you've been exposed, and that you probably have bedbugs. I've never experienced a pilgrim being turned away because of this. In fact in the past, hospitaleros would generally go out of their way to help, by offering to clean your gear while you take a shower, supplying you with towels and some temporary clothing - and when my wife and I had our bedbug experience, the hospitaleros supplied us with some clean things which were "cast-offs" left by other peregrinos (we looked a little like John Travolta and Samuel Jackson in that memorable wash-up scene from Pulp Fiction) while we waited for our own clothes to wash and dry).
One reason hospitaleros are so eager to help is that bedbugs on a single person can actually lead to an entire albergue being infested and consequently closed until it can be completely cleaned. In the peak of the 2019 autumn season, at one of the major end points on the Frances, the local municipal albergue (with upwards of 90 beds - of a total of around 225 albergue beds in the town) was shut down with a bedbug infestation for a couple of weeks, which consequently made it near impossible to get a bed in that town for that entire time.
But the point is - you'll find on the one hand there's a lot of personal shame attached to getting bedbugs, and there's an inclination to keep it a secret; and on the other hand, a degree of indifference about what some people will consider only a nuisance. You have to make your own decision, of course, but if you do keep it secret, it's more than likely that you will spread the bug wherever you go. And if ignored, these little pests could increase and multiply at a biblical pace.
But that's the thing about the Camino. Almost every other person on the Way, particularly our hosts, will want to help you in any manner that they can, even if it's just to remind you that it's all going to be okay.
Yes, I totally agree. Please tell us when you arrive of your dilemma and I will calmly help you. It is not your fault and we do our best to manage things discreetly and matter of factly. It is part of the hospitalero training with HosVol to learn how to identify and deal with bedbugs.
 

blumtnguy

blumtnguy
Time of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata (Spring 2012), Sanabres (Fall 2018).
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
I am planning to do it in May this year and I would like to know if bed bugs are a serious problem in albergues and hostels.
Appreciate any advise/information
Much good information, and many good suggestions here in these posts! At least keep your pack closed away from your bed. Don’t spread the contents of your pack on your, or any other bed!
Maybe being like pilgrims of old has some merit … wear, and carry very little
 
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Tincatinker

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
@Austinpaterson could you let us know where you read those comments?

The bug has been an issue on the Camino Frances, in The Ritz Hotel and on international airlines. They were even around at Skara Brae in Neolithic times. They've relied on us for their survival since the dawn of time. They are not a disease vector, they are just a *%^£&^%$ nuisance and a distressing one for some.
They're such a feature of Pilgrim life that this forum has a section dedicated to the little beggars. Much good advice is available here on avoidance and treatment.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
I am planning to do it in May this year and I would like to know if bed bugs are a serious problem in albergues and hostels.
Appreciate any advise/information
Bed bugs can be found in the cheapest of albergues to the most expensive of hotels. They can happen in the dirtiest of places as well as the cleanest of places. That said - they usually aren't a very big problem. Most of the time you won't encounter them. Last summer I am not aware of anyone I walked with encountering them - but then again - crowds were way lower than normal. Earlier in the season, you probably have a better chance of avoiding them than at the end of the season.

When you arrive at an albergue - check your bed for signs of bed bugs before you make your bed. If you see any - move along! But be sure to let the albergue host know so that they can take care of the problem.

There are reports that bed bugs hate silk - so I use a silk sleeping bag liner. I put my blanket and/or sleeping bag INSIDE the silk liner. It's not to say you can't get bed bugs with silk - but it does repel them at least to some degree. You can also pre-treat with permetherin if you ant to. I did that with all my clothes and bedding on a wilderness hike (more for mosquitos) - but didn't do it for my Camino.

Don't put your personal belongings (besides bedding) on the bed, store your backpack elsewhere.

If you DO get bed bugs - look up how to get rid of them on your gear. And again - let the albergue know so they can take care of the problem.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
CP Spring 2024
As usual, lots of good information in this thread and helpful things to keep in mind.

My own .02 begins with a strong disclaimer: I know that scientific studies have consistently shown that essential oils are largely ineffective as a means of bedbug prevention, and I am mindful that many people are sensitive to essential oil sprays & their ilk.

That said: For the last several years I have kept slivers of Dr. Bronner's lavender, peppermint, and tea tree bar soaps that I cycle through on a regular basis in a Ziploc bag in the bottom of my backpack. (I think I originally began saving them when they become too small to use for washing with the intent to melt them down together and create a kind of Frankensoap out of them) - and have not encountered any bedbugs or other insect infestation in my pack during that time, even when it's stored over the winter.
Plus it has the benefit of making my pack and whatever is in it smell nice too.

And yes, I'm also very much aware that correlation does not imply causation and all that.
At the very least, consider this a possibly helpful conservation/recycling tip that will help make your bag smell better and ensure you never run out of soap besides ;)
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Fine to recycle your soap although many people are sensitive to smells and soap won't keep a hungry bed bug away. There used to be a really good Dave Whitson podcast with an interview of a bed bug entomogist researcher. If I can find it I will post the link.
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Do not fear bedbugs. Do not fear mosquitoes or gnats. Do not fear snakes or wild boar. Spain has all those things as do most countries, but your chance of encountering any of them is quite small.
ultreia
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
CP Spring 2024
Fine to recycle your soap although many people are sensitive to smells and soap won't keep a hungry bed bug away. There used to be a really good Dave Whitson podcast with an interview of a bed bug entomogist researcher. If I can find it I will post the link.

Which is exactly why I was careful to say that there is no scientific evidence that this works and that I am aware that some people are sensitive to smells. (I guarantee that in my particular case the smell of the soap scraps does not extend beyond the confines of my bag, so as long as people keep their nose out of it I think they'll be OK.)
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Which is exactly why I was careful to say that there is no scientific evidence that this works and that I am aware that some people are sensitive to smells. (I guarantee that the smell does not extend beyond the confines of my bag, so as long as people keep their nose out of it I think they'll be OK.)
Yes, I concur. I can honestly say on over 180 days and nights on the Camino I cannot recall detecting the smells emitting from any fellow pilgrim's backpack or gear, and honestly it is not something I have ever even thought about lol. I could care less if there was a whiff of lavender, peppermint or menthol about and it would not bother me. That is kind of like candies and cough drops.
Now odors emitting from pilgrims with poor hygiene habits? Encountered that a few times. For God's sake peregrino, shower dammit lol. :D
I will even admit that on a couple of occasions very late at night/early morning I had forgotten where I was for a brief moment and let out a very loud flatulence while on the bunk, and was in self horror and embarrassment immediately after. Motionless in the dark hoping nobody knew it was me. My apologies to any fellow pilgrims that were in the room. Wow, that confession felt good. :D
 

Kathy F.

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2013, CF from Lourdes 2015, CP Porto 2022
Looks kind of like this. The ones we have used are already at the albergues. You fill them up with water and then let them heat up and use the "gun" attachment to shoot the steam into cracks and crevices in walls, floorboards, bed frames, etc. We clean and disinfect first and look for bedbug signs and then steam.
It sounds similar to the steamer I might use to get wrinkles out of clothes (I’m a sewist)*.Or the steam cleaner I (sometimes) use to clean my floors with (;))
Am I on the right track?

*fun fact, spellcheck changed my word “sewist” to “sexist”. Glad I caught it in time.
 
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Walli Walker

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Many. First 2009 and still going.
Bedbugs do exist, and they are not rare on the Caminos. How much of a problem they are to you depends on your reaction to them.

Some people do not react to bites at all. Those are the people that will claim that the bed bug problem ist exagerrated and that they are very rare.

Some people have mild reactions (like small flea bites / mosquito bites). For those people they are annoying but no big problem. If you've been bitten, put all (!) your gear into a dryer for at least 30min on hot temperature, or wash at least at 60°C and dry then, to make sure you don't carry them somewhere else. They die at high temperature.

Some people have severe allergic reactions. In that case, you might need medical attention if bitten. If that's the case, you certainly want to make sure not to get bitten. Check beds and mattresses thouroughly. Use a sleeping bag or liner and try to cover yourself at night (they don't bitte through fabric). Put your "night gear" (sleeping bag/liner and pyjamas) in a waterproof dry bag seperate from all your other stuff. So if you get them into your sleeping gear they don't spread into the rest of your backpack. Also put your whole sleeping bag into a large garbage bag or dry bag at night, and far away from the beds, so that they don't crawl in and travel with you to the next place. Put your backpack and the drybag with your night stuff into the hot sun whenever possible as precaution.

I do have bad reactions to them. So I know what to look for, how to avoid them and how to deal with them... and still got bitten almost every time I walked.

They are stuff made from nightmares for me. Took me four years to unpack my things from the 2017 Camino (was packed airtight since then). They die after 1-2 years without a meal. I also put everything I carried in 2019 into a garbage can in Santiago and bought new clothes for travelling home. That's how paranoid I've become.

Bedbug ptsd 🤣 But I still walk. It's all worth it.

Hopefully you're one of those people who don't notice them. Good luck and a bedbug free Camino!
Oh how I relate to this post.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
It sounds similar to the steamer I might use to get wrinkles out of clothes (I’m a sewist)*.Or the steam cleaner I (sometimes) use to clean my floors with (;))
Am I on the right track?

*fun fact, spellcheck changed my word “sewist” to “sexist”. Glad I caught it in time.
Yes, the ones we have use are larger than the example one I posted and hold more water. I had a mopping steamer at home for a while and it is a similar concept. These are not as "gentle" as the ones you might use on clothes and give a big gust of steam when you pull the trigger.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Wait... they die after 1-2 years?!?!?
Yes, and I believe after a few months without nourishment they actually come together in packs of sorts, groups of up to a hundred I believe has been observed. They then search for a host en masse. Swarming relentlessly on the hapless victim.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
And I don’t know about you, but I see no wisdom in exposing yourself nightly to that.
This is a common enough concern, but the evidence that I have seen indicates it is largely misplaced. What I found was:
  1. permethrin binds tightly to treated fabric, with only a very miniscule amount being transferred to the skin. There are standard warnings about using permethrin on clothing items that would be in contact with moist areas of the body, ie one's genitals, mouth, eyes and nose, to avoid higher rates of transfer if the permethrin goes back into solution.
  2. when treating fabric, there are well described precautions to prevent accidental skin contamination. There are also warnings against ingestion.
  3. Reaching a lethal dose by ingestion would require one to drink several full containers of the standard size of one of the more common brand's spray product. That is unlikely even if one doesn't take all the handling precautions and there is some incidental ingestion of the spray. That said, this doesn't mean you won't suffer any ill-effects if you don't take the recommended precautions, but you won't kill yourself doing it.
Overall, the treatment of equipment (packs, packing cells, sleeping bags and liners, etc) and outerwear (but not underwear) appears to be safe, and shouldn't be a concern.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Looks kind of like this. The ones we have used are already at the albergues. You fill them up with water and then let them heat up and use the "gun" attachment to shoot the steam into cracks and crevices in walls, floorboards, bed frames, etc. We clean and disinfect first and look for bedbug signs and then steam

Many of the bed bugs have adapted. They come from the ceiling beams and cracks , not only from the floors and beds. I have watched, in several locations, them come out of various cracks in the ceiling beams….crawling up and down the walls. Without reaching those ceiling cracks you won’t get rid of them.

When I leave in the middle of the night, after a bed bug attack, I don’t tell anyone, as rarely, there is someone on duty. However, I leave the squished bugs, wherever they are, in place on the walls, ceilings and floors so the cleaners can’t miss that they have an infestation.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Many of the bed bugs have adapted. They come from the ceiling beams and cracks , not only from the floors and beds. I have watched, in several locations, them come out of various cracks in the ceiling beams….crawling up and down the walls. Without reaching those ceiling cracks you won’t get rid of them.

When I leave in the middle of the night, after a bed bug attack, I don’t tell anyone, as rarely, there is someone on duty. However, I leave the squished bugs, wherever they are, in place on the walls, ceilings and floors so the cleaners can’t miss that they have an infestation.
I also know of them coming from pipes in the ceiling. They are not just "bed" bugs any more.
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Time of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
I am planning to do it in May this year and I would like to know if bed bugs are a serious problem in albergues and hostels.
Appreciate any advise/information
I have had bed bug problems but only at night. What I did to kill the little buggers is to soak my sheets with a 20ml per litre of Peremethin which you can buy from any gardening store.

Leave the sheet out to dry and you have a 'bed bug killer' sheet on which you can sleep free of the little blighters.
 
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cbacino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I have encountered bed bugs three times: Via Francigena (Italy), Camino del Norte, and a motel in the USA. Not pleasant experiences. Check the mattress and vicinity for signs. Plastic covered mattresses in most hostels seem to minimize the likelihood. Do not leave anything on the floor otherwise they can invade it, and you will carry them with you. Hang your pack, or put it in a large plastic bag and secure the end. If you are feasted on by bedbugs, you might not realize it until later the next day. Signs are unmistakable: 1/4 inch welts lined up on neck, face, back, legs, ears, chest. Any items they might have gotten into need to go in a dryer at the highest heat for 30 minutes. Washing will not kill them. Encounters are a drag, but not the end of the world. I’m walking in Spain again beginning next week. Enjoy your walk. : )
 

Barbara

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Yes, I concur. I can honestly say on over 180 days and nights on the Camino I cannot recall detecting the smells emitting from any fellow pilgrim's backpack or gear, and honestly it is not something I have ever even thought about lol. I could care less if there was a whiff of lavender, peppermint or menthol about and it would not bother me. That is kind of like candies and cough drops.
Now odors emitting from pilgrims with poor hygiene habits? Encountered that a few times. For God's sake peregrino, shower dammit lol. :D
I will even admit that on a couple of occasions very late at night/early morning I had forgotten where I was for a brief moment and let out a very loud flatulence while on the bunk, and was in self horror and embarrassment immediately after. Motionless in the dark hoping nobody knew it was me. My apologies to any fellow pilgrims that were in the room. Wow, that confession felt good. :D
I bet the release of gas felt even better!
Just a thought, but if on the way home you check your bag on long haul aircraft, does the hold get cold enough to kill the beasties?
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Just a thought, but if on the way home you check your bag on long haul aircraft, does the hold get cold enough to kill the beasties?

They start to die at a temperature of -17°C or colder. It takes several days (three or four) for them to die at that temperature, so the answer to your question is probably 'no', sadly. It is recommended to put them into a freezer at -17°C or lower for at least 4 days, or better a week or so, to be sure. The temperature has to stay at that temperature the whole time, so don't open the freezer inbetween and make sure your freezer does not "defrost" automatically, or it might not work.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2006 to date: Over 21 Caminos. See signature line
I have encountered bed bugs three times: Via Francigena (Italy), Camino del Norte, and a motel in the USA. Not pleasant experiences. Check the mattress and vicinity for signs. Plastic covered mattresses in most hostels seem to minimize the likelihood. Do not leave anything on the floor otherwise they can invade it, and you will carry them with you. Hang your pack, or put it in a large plastic bag and secure the end. If you are feasted on by bedbugs, you might not realize it until later the next day. Signs are unmistakable: 1/4 inch welts lined up on neck, face, back, legs, ears, chest. Any items they might have gotten into need to go in a dryer at the highest heat for 30 minutes. Washing will not kill them. Encounters are a drag, but not the end of the world. I’m walking in Spain again beginning next week. Enjoy your walk. : )
For you, maybe 1/4 inch welts. But I have seen, many times, HUGE welts up to the size of a half-dollar. It can be quite traumatic for some. You're lucky! :)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2006 to date: Over 21 Caminos. See signature line
I also know of them coming from pipes in the ceiling. They are not just "bed" bugs any more.
I lifted a painting on the wall at a convent on the Northern Route once, to look behind it, and they scurried out! They like any dark place, I guess. I also always look in the holes where the hardware connects wooden bunkbeds and have often found them there.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
For you, maybe 1/4 inch welts. But I have seen, many times, HUGE welts up to the size of a half-dollar. It can be quite traumatic for some. You're lucky! :)
I am this way with Mosquito bites. Just a couple bites I will be fine - but if I am attacked my whole body gets huge horrible welts. Thankfully haven't had a bed bug bite...
 

JCarpenter

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Thanks … what do you treat your gear with?
I treat my boots, my pack and my sleep sack. Some do not like when others treat, but I like knowing I am not carrying bed bugs around. I treat the day before I go, and bring a black trash bag in the baseboard my backpack in case I have to use the hot sun treatment. Never have had to after 4 caminos
 

cbacino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
For you, maybe 1/4 inch welts. But I have seen, many times, HUGE welts up to the size of a half-dollar. It can be quite traumatic for some. You're lucky! :)
Some luck!
 

JCarpenter

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Permethrin is not a deterrent or repellent, but after a couple of hours of exposure it will kill bedbugs.

That's why I treat my sleeping gear, the inside of my backpack, and all of my cloth stuff sacks.

If a bedbug gets inside my pack I don't want it coming out alive. I don't want to be the pilgrim unwittingly spreading bedbugs from Albergue to albergue.

Here's a video showing how bedbugs die when in contact with permethrin.

4 down, 6 gazillion to go!
 
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cbacino

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
For you, maybe 1/4 inch welts. But I have seen, many times, HUGE welts up to the size of a half-dollar. It can be quite traumatic for some. You're lucky! :)
 

Ricardo Moretti

Camino Frances x 2: Apr./May 2018 & Apr./May 2019
Time of past OR future Camino
Two Camino Frances:
April-May 2018
April-May 2019
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
I am planning to do it in May this year and I would like to know if bed bugs are a serious problem in albergues and hostels.
Appreciate any advise/information
They are NOT a problem but could be. No matter where you travel, bed bugs are a reality. Having said that, in my decades of extensive travel and having done twice the Camino Frances, I have never had bed bugs. Though it is possible and I have heard stories and did meet a couple who had encountered bed bugs in an alburgue.

Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin can help dissuade the bed bugs and other insects to avoid you and choose someone else. If bitten or someone is bitten in the same village and or alburgue that you stayed in then take all of your belongings to a laundromat and wash them and stuff them in a very hot dryer for longer than is needed to dry the clothes. Generally speaking, the owners that I met along the Way were well educated about the subject of bed bugs and are quick to address the situation. If you want to reduce the probability of bed bugs, go before the high season.

Ricardo
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
…, hospitaleros would generally go out of their way to help, by offering to clean your gear while you take a shower, supplying you with towels and some temporary clothing …
That's what we always did in Villamayor de Monjardín. But in the fifteen-plus months ((2015-2019) I was a hospitalero there, we only had to do it twice. (And once had to destroy a mattress when we found them in a private room!) Once a Korean who had neither English nor Spanish got that treatment and when we looked in the dryer lint filter, we saw fleas instead of bedbugs.
 

Colette Z

Happy Pilgrim
Time of past OR future Camino
CF; Norte; Ingles; Augustine; Portugues Central
I read some comments about bed bugs on Camino Frances which scared me.
I am planning to do it in May this year and I would like to know if bed bugs are a serious problem in albergues and hostels.
Appreciate any advise/information
I just finished my 4th Camino and the ONLY time I encountered bedbugs and was bitten was last Oct 2021 on the Camino Portuguese Central in a nice HOTEL (Vila Nova de Barquinha) and I stayed at least 75% of the rest of the time in hostels (not hotels).
 
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