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Do top bunks stop bed bugs?

Natcats

Veteran | author | graphic designer | walker
Year of past OR future Camino
Chemin des Outaouais (2014)
Le Puy 1 of 2 (2015)
Le Puy 2 of 2 (2022)?
Camino Francés (2022)?
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Year 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 often come from cracks in the walls, beams or ceilings. They are not limited to traveling by floors as we are! i have seen them crawl down walls, and then onto the bed if it touches the wall. The top bunk will not spare you. So yes, it is very possible that they can crawl down (not necessarily up) right onto the topbunk. Or, they can already be in the mattress when you arrive!

You might consider putting your clothes in plastic bags that are ceiled at night, so you do not carry them to the next albergue. And you will save yourself the trouble of spending half a day, de-bugging your clothes/equipment. Some pilgrims carry heavy duty black plastic bags and put their packs in it at night to prevent the little buggers from getting a free ride the next morning.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway?
(1) Not necessarily. (2) higher than you can.

I would not be surprised if people on bottom bunks got bitten less often than people in top bunks. However, it you are on the top, and a bedbug is anywhere in the room, with no one else in between, the bed bug will find you!

Many people (perhaps a majority) are not allergic to the bed bug bite, and they never know they have been bitten.

True - bugs are not interested in equipment as their ultimate goal. But they might retreat into a hiding spot anywhere. That is why I recommend that you always place your back pack in an air-tight enclosure at night when bedbugs are more active (a large dry bag or plastic garbage bag tightly closed at the top). In the morning, put your night clothes and sleeping bag into an airtight bag within your back pack for the day. That way you are not at risk of contaminating all your belonging.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Also, to add... Bed bugs are present on the Camino. However most people do not get bitten (or at least don't react to it) and even for most of those who do, it is just a nuisance that should not spoil your Camino. There are some measures you can take, such as I suggest above, and you can use insect repellant on your exposed skin, to deter them. If you do get exposed, 20 minutes in a hot dryer (that is 20 minutes after the clothes are dry) will kill them. That is why it is convenient to do the isolation mentioned above - so only your night clothes and sleeping bag will need to be treated.
 

Natcats

Veteran | author | graphic designer | walker
Year of past OR future Camino
Chemin des Outaouais (2014)
Le Puy 1 of 2 (2015)
Le Puy 2 of 2 (2022)?
Camino Francés (2022)?
Bed bugs often come from cracks in the walls, beams or ceilings. They are not limited to traveling by floors as we are! i have seen them crawl down walls, and then onto the bed if it touches the wall. The top bunk will not spare you. So yes, it is very possible that they can crawl down (not necessarily up) right onto the topbunk. Or, they can already be in the mattress when you arrive!

You might consider putting your clothes in plastic bags that are ceiled at night, so you do not carry them to the next albergue. And you will save yourself the trouble of spending half a day, de-bugging your clothes/equipment. Some pilgrims carry heavy duty black plastic bags and put their packs in it at night to prevent the little buggers from getting a free ride the next morning.
THEY CRAWL DOWN WALLS??? 😱
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
To ‘soften’ my above remark...
I have been bitten twice by bedbugs. No it isn’t nice, for people like me who react badly. Others just shrug it off. Honestly, it isn’t a big deal.
In France, when you stayed in people’s houses, they made you leave your belongings in plastic crates, downstairs. It worked.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I carry Reactine (or buy ceterizin) when on Camino. I am one of the people who has a horrific reaction with terrible swelling. I take one extra strength per day for the duration of the bites (7 days if I’m lucky, longer if I get hit Repeatedly).
I use rubberized dry sacs for my items inside my pack, and if I ever have signs of being bitten, I hit the commercial laundromat in the next destination town and wash everything and dry it on *hot*. Maybe my merino won’t last quite as long... maybe my packs will fade more quickly (dunno for sure), but I do try not to carry them with me.
I will be curious to see if my next trip (hoping for the early season in 2022) will avoid them by being early in the year rather than toward the tail end when 300,000 have already trekked through.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
One Swiss pilgrim that I met was very particular about his choice of bed as well as placement of equipment (e.g. sleeping bag, rucksack, etc.) and other precautions. He strongly preferred an upper bunk, with a rationale along the lines of "even insects are subject to gravity, and will surely prefer not to climb for their food if they have a choice." It sounded somewhat convincing, until I thought about all the inaccessible places that insects do choose to hang out in. He also worked on the theory that the least popular bunks are less frequently used, and therefore they are the lowest risk. I think that there's probably truth in that.
I think he was one of the people who react very badly to bedbug bites, so he did many other things to protect himself as much as possible. I can't remember them all, but I do recall that he never left his rucksack on the ground in the albergue - He hung it on a hook. He kept his sleeping bag rolled up until bedtime. He had inner bags inside his rucksack for his clothes and other items. He didn't leave any clothing lying around. He was about as fastidious as one can be in a communal space without being a total nightmare to be with. (He was a very nice guy). My gut feeling is that the selection of the top bunk was one of the less consequential measures that he took, but his routine in its entirety seemed to work well for him and I doubt that he will stop taking any of the measures that he has adopted.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
For what it’s worth... I think examining the surroundings and your actual bed carefully can make a difference. The two times I was bitten were at the end of a Camino and I wasn’t as careful. It was the last night! And the last time it happened, there was only one albergue anyway!
A few times I avoided them by just leaving when I saw traces. It isn’t easy, as you’re tired and you have to start again finding a place...
ps: Both times were in August, btw.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
The only time that I've actually seen bedbugs they were on the bunk above mine, and crawling up the wall. (or maybe down 😄)

I will be curious to see if my next trip (hoping for the early season in 2022) will avoid them by being early in the year rather than toward the tail end when 300,000 have already trekked through.
That's been my experience. My first Camino was late August/September, and I saw many pilgrims with bites. I was also bitten, presumably by that bedbug that I saw crawling on the wall or his friend.
When I walked in July/August there I encountered fewer pilgrims who had been bitten, and on my May/June Camino in 2019 I didn't meet anyone who had been bit.
Of course that's just anecdotal evidence, as I didn't do a scientific study. 😉
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I always walk April/May and have seen bedbugs crawl up the wall a couple of times when lights were turned on in the morning and they move quite slow. I always try to make sure my bunk bed is pulled a few inches away from any wall as a precaution. I have left ceiling lights on all night long twice in private rooms in questionable circumstances, "hoping" that keeps them in their hiding places, but not sure if it makes a difference.😅
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Year of past OR future Camino
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Most beds by their construction do protect sleepers from insect infestation (though beds with a solid base rather than a frame provide less protection) -- but that protection will not work if people place bedbug-infested backpacks on beds.

That's the real problem, rather than top bunk versus bottom bunk -- though it can be less attractive to careless people to put their packs on the top bunk than the lower, so I'd guess that they will be marginally less infected, statistically. But that's hardly a guarantee.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
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I'm hoping they've all starved to death while we're away.
Unfortunately they may possibly be hungrier than ever when we return to the Camino. 😱

Google says...
Bed bugs can go without feeding for 20 to 400 days, depending on temperature and humidity. Older stages of nymphs can survive longer without feeding than younger ones, and adults have survived without food for more than 400 days in the laboratory at low temperatures.
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
I was fortunate enough not to encounter BBs on my Camino. Some in my vicinity did.
Concerning them, theres lots of opinion and little science. At least thats my feeling, and by reading the different approaches in this thread it kinda feels validated.
I used a 2 layer system to avoid them. If it worked or if i was just lucky, who can tell.
Layer 1: Dont get them
Layer 2: Dont spread them

This meant specifically:
- My backpack does not touch the ground. Ever. Indoors and outdoors.
- My backpack does not touch my matress.
- My stuff is in a drysack for each purpose. Clothes, Sleepingbag, Washkit, Electronics.
- They do not touch the ground and i try to avoid having them in bed (usually my washkit is in bed with me).
- I avoid the woolen blankets.

So even if i was to "get them" in bed, it would be unlikely i'd spread them to my other stuff. At least thats what i'm telling myself. It's just as likely i'm dead wrong ;)
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have read a number of times on this forum that it is impolite and rude to place backpacks on the mattresses so I never have done that. This also includes chairs if there is not one alongside each bunk as common courtesy.
I spray the outside of my pack with Permathrin and everything with the exception of my valuables stay inside a trash compactor bag, rolled up and sealed. I've not been bitten yet to my knowledge.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I have no idea but at my age the number of times I have to get up at night and the hassle and noise and trouble of getting out of a top bunk make sleeping downstairs a necessity for me. 😃.
I have passed on sleeping in an albergue a few times because bottom beds were taken. Conversely I have never been refused a bottom bed when I have asked for one in albergues that assign beds when you arrive.
 
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CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Oh, that's harsh. They've been our constant companions, probably, since we set down a few bear-skins in the corner of a cave. They mean us no harm. They are not known vectors of any disease.

They're just an absolute sodding nuisance ;)
And for those who have bad reactions that cause itching we cannot help but scratch: the bites can get infected quite badly. That hasn't happened to me, but I do fear it because my reactions are so very awful (painful as well as burning itchiness). I care less about the intent of the creature and more about the result of the bite.
Yay: no malaria, or Lyme or Zika but they can be harmful whether they intend it or not.
 

Shalaw

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
Sleeping on the top bunk won't spare you. I slept on the top bunk and my partner slept below me, and I got bit up two times along the Way and he did not. I also slept in a silk liner, and he did not, so I'm not sure that's the answer either. I've also read they are attracted to certain peoples' breath more than others, so lucky me. My bites swelled something fierce, so we went to the farmacia for anti-histamines and then to the local ferreteria to get spray for cinchos and treated both our packs and any of our belongings that couldn't be washed and dried in high heat with the spray, to avoid any hitchhikers. The mere thought of them crawling on your body while you sleep is creepy, but when you actually have to deal with them, it's more of an inconvenience, like when your kids come home from school with lice (lol). You just deal with it, because what else you gonna do?!

Buen Camino!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
My wife and I have walked the Camino Frances three times, St Jean to Santiago. To my knowledge, we've not experienced any bed bugs. Precautions we've used which may have helped:
  • Several days prior to travel, I sprayed permethrin on the inside and outside of our backpacks and day packs, sleeping bags, sleep sheets.
  • We used several different sized stuff sacks inside our backpacks to organize clothes, outer gear, bathroom items, etc.
  • Our first two caminos, we mostly stayed in albergues with bunk beds. My wife and I usually selected one bunk bed, with us rotating who sleeps on the top bunk and the other sleeping on the bottom bunk. I brought large (3 inch) carabiners that were large enough to clip onto a bar on the bunkbed, then hang our backpacks onto the carabiner. This kept the backpacks off the floor and the bed.
  • We each brought Z Fence Z Clips which creates a protection bubble around us, keeping mosquitos and other various bugs away. Before one of our trips, I contacted the customer service of the manufacturer and asked if the Z Clips are effective against bed bugs. They are! So I wore one on a lanyard around my neck when we were hiking and also during the night. Here's a photo of the Z Clip. 1609943902095.png I'm pretty sure each tablet offers protection for 30 days. A new clip comes with two tablets, so enough protection for a 5 week camino.
During our third camino, we stayed in private rooms every night, so did not have to bring sleeping bags or towells with us. Each night we had fresh bedsheets and bath linens. However, we still sprayed Permethrin on our packs pre-camino and used the Z Clips on lanyards when we walked and at night.

Bob
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
I too was bitten in Conques. The following day I had the characteristic 3 bites in a line. Once again I failed to pay attention and slept in the same bunk. 12 bites in total and boy did I suffer.

I failed to notice the warnings:
1 There was a slight smell to dorm which I attributed to people even though I was the first to arrive.
2 I failed to pull back the sheet and check the mattress. When I did the 2nd day I could see the signs.
3 I ignored the first bites on the first day.

I must be allergic because I had many festering sores for 3-4 days. Even more upsetting was the guilt and shame I felt because I had them. I left Conques by bus to the next major town specifically to find laundry services. I then hot washed and hot dryed every single item. Then sprayed everything. I had many sleepless nights after that imagining more bites.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
They are on the top bunks! After a great garlic soup in 2007 I watched as my hiking companion on the lower bunk next to mine was dive bombed. No bites tho as we had permethrin treated sleeping gear and use DEET on open skin.
How could you "see" you were divebombed by bedbuggs when they come out in the dark?...they sure must love garlic breath!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
They are on the top bunks! After a great garlic soup in 2007 I watched as my hiking companion on the lower bunk next to mine was dive bombed. No bites tho as we had permethrin treated sleeping gear and use DEET on open skin.
Permethrin is not a deterrent and won't kill on contact. However, it has been shown to kill bedbugs over time. That's why I treat my sleeping gear, the inside of my pack and all of my cloth stuff sacks with permethrin. I figure that if they do manage to get inside my gear that they won't come out alive, and I won't be transporting them from albergue to albergue - or home.
 

Kiwi-d

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sep/Oct 2014
I was more paranoid about taking bedbugs home than I was about actually being bitten so even though I sprayed my backpack before leaving home, I carried a tiny bottle of Permethrin with me and sprayed my backpack inside and out before flying home. On arrival I left the entire pack outside for a couple of days, and when I emptied it (outside) I found a couple of dead bedbugs. Either they didn't bite me, or I'm lucky enough not to react to the bites.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I carried a tiny bottle of Permethrin with me and sprayed my backpack inside and out before flying home.
Hi Kiwi-d, I was wondering if you were able to to purchase a tiny bottle of Permathrin, or if you transferred a small amount from a larger size into a small spray bottle.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (14), Portuguese (15), Le Puy (17), Ingles (17), VDLP (18), Lana (18), Madrid (19) + more
It is my experience that there is a higher concentration of bedbugs in the most popular bunks.
The most popular bunk in the dorm is usually a lower bed, against the wall, furthest from the entrance.
The least popular bunk is an upper bunk, away from the walls, close to the entrance or in the centre of the room.

Of course, this doesn't matter on busy Camino routes during peak season where an Albergue is at capacity every night. 😉
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I also hear that bug bites increase as the walking season wears on ino summer and fall.
 
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2012
I also hear that bug bites increase as the walking season wears on ino summer and fall.
Beware cause & effect: the more people walking the more people available to be bit. The more people available to be bit there'll be more people amongst that group who react to getting bit. People who get bit and react report their misery, people who get bit and don't react don't even notice. The summer/fall increase in bug-bite reports is more likely related to the prevalence of people than bugs. A critter that can go 400 days without a snack isn't going to be bothered by the season let alone our planning calendar
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
Does anyone know the name of the permethrin based spray sold in Spain? It is difficult to source in Canada.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
@BombayBill that's a tricky question. Permethrin sprays of various strengths are on sale in Spain but mainly in Veterinary and animal husbandry outlets (in most of which you can also buy excellent wine and cheese but that's an aside).

Arguably by the time you get to Pamplona and spare a day to source, spray and cure your gear its getting late. I am trying to be helpful even if it doesn't seem like it. The forum search facility will take you to a bunch of threads on "Canada" & "Permethrin". My understanding is that Permethrin is not licensed for use on Humans in Canada - which makes sense. If I was going to use it I would use it on my backpack, my sleeping bag, my packsacs and maybe even my gaiters but not on me. In which case the Permethrin sprays which are licensed for use on dogs, at 5% concentration levels might be useful. All I'd have to do is spray the dog on my rucksack etc and I'd probably, accidentally, achieve my objective.

Please bear in mind that Permethrin is not a repellant and that while it will kill our constant companions it will do so only slowly and with varying efficacy. Its a good, long-term, precaution to help you avoid becoming a vector. The rest; put Bed Bugs into the forum search engine but devote several days to the quest.
 

4 Eyes

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF from SJPP 14, VDLP from Seville 15, DN&P from Irun 16, Portuguese from Lisbon 17, CF from SJPP 18
The pilgrims I met who slept at Roncesvalle albergue one night, top and bottom bunks, all got bedbug bites. I did not sleep there fortunately.

I have done some research on bedbugs. Bedbugs can live in crevasses on wood but not metal. So if the bed is wood frame it does not matter top or bottom. They are already there and don't need to crawl much. If the mattress is not sealed they can also live in the mattress. So I choose albergues with metal frame beds with plastic leg tips and sealed mattresses.

I also take a small plastic pill box and put a few needle holes through the plastic on top, put a cotton ball infused with tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, or citronella/geranial oil inside, and roll it in my sleeping bag. My sleeping bag smells of the oil which repels beg bugs. The scent is mild and I have not heard anyone complaining of the smell. My pack and all my clothes also pick up the scent. Every 5 days or so I refresh the pill box with additional oil. I always hang my pack and everything I have on S hooks on the metal bedframe. Nothing goes on the floor except my shoes. So far I have not been bitten as far as I know.

As soon as I get home I put everything that is not machine washable in a large black plastic trash bag and leave that in the garage to quarantine. When it's a warm sunny day I take the bag out to sit in the sun all day. My down jacket I compress into a gallon zip lock bag and put in the freezer for a month. Bedbugs cannot survive 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 16 degrees Celsius) for more than 4 days. Your freezer should be at 0 degree F anyway. All other wearables I immediately put in the washer and start a wash in hot water.

It seems to work for me.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Does anyone know the name of the permethrin based spray sold in Spain? It is difficult to source in Canada.
I found this one on Amazon.ca - at 0.35% permethrin it's not as quite as strong as the Sawyer brand I buy in the US which is 0.5%.

If you do buy permethrin in Spain keep in mind that it must be sprayed outdoors away from other people and allowed to dry before use. Don't use it inside albergues.
Please bear in mind that Permethrin is not a repellant and that while it will kill our constant companions it will do so only slowly and with varying efficacy. Its a good, long-term, precaution to help you avoid becoming a vector. The rest; put Bed Bugs into the forum search engine but devote several days to the quest.
Yes. I mentioned this in one of my posts above, but it bears repeating.
Don't be surprised if bed bugs get inside your permethrin treated sleeping bag/liner. That's not how it works. As @Tincatinker said it works slowly, but if you have treated your gear with it and bed bugs do get inside, hopefully they will be dead by the time you reach the next albergue.
 

Kiwi-d

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sep/Oct 2014
Hi Kiwi-d, I was wondering if you were able to to purchase a tiny bottle of Permathrin, or if you transferred a small amount from a larger size into a small spray bottle.
Hi Chrissy. I transferred a small amount into a tiny spray bottle. It was just enough to spray the bag inside and out, as I was very conscious of weight, of course.
 

nick1896

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
I am very alergic to bed bug bites. The pain is really bad, I would not be able to sleep at all the following 2 nights and it will be very itchy for about 10 days. On average I was badly bitten once every week or so on the Camino. That probably shows how widespread they are. Therefore I was of course looking at what I can do, permethrin, bags, top bunk, lavender, antihistamines. I came to the conclusion that none of this will really help. The only thing which can help is to cover well: sleep inside a very big sleeping bag liner which covers me completely, goes over my head, thin gloves, hoodie over head and face. Never ever leave any skin exposed while lying in bed. The only problem is that it is a bit uncomfortable and as I move a lot during the night, I might still expose a bit of skin. And they will find it! My 2c...
 
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I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
No. I was in the top bunk in a municipale and ended up quite sick from bed bug bites on my thigh. People put their backpacks up on the bed and that is a possible source for infestation. Watching one of Dixie's (Wunderlust on youtube) videos of her camino with her sister...they picked up bedbugs and set about putting their bags, clothes etc into bath with hot water. Bedbugs floated out of their gear en masse. No beds are safe, sadly.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Whilst in private accommodation in Portugal, probably 30 years ago - maybe somewhere in the Peneda Geres area - my wife insisted that I deploy our anti-bug equipment.

This was in the days before the irrational ‘liquids’ prohibition on air travel, so I had a pint of permethrin (OK, neat sheep-dip from my farming neighbour) and four empty margerine tubs.

Each leg of our ‘cama matrimonial’ went into a tub, with a good inch of liquid in there to deter the wildlife.

Total and utter waste of time. There were cockroaches the size of rats in there. God alone knows what size the actual rats were.

We fled at about 0500, well before daybreak. I left my favourite pair of underpants behind - and they were clean. I still miss them.

At the first opportunity we stopped for a brew in the forest, in torrential rain - which had been the case for days. I fired up the gas stove about a minute before a ranger pulled up in his truck and shouted ‘no fuego!’.

I didn’t speak much Portuguese, and he didn’t need much English to understand that tea was being made and drunk, and it was non-negotiable.

Then the sun came out.

Insects? Born survivors.
 

RodlaRob

Oz Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Torres (2016) Portuguese (2016)
Thanks Natchat... can't beata good bedbug discussion........i feel like walking again!😎
But..... should i use hiking poles or not??
...... and....what should i do if i get blisters?? 🤣🤣
 

Hobbledehoy

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata, Camino Sanabrés, Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre. (2020)
Bed bugs often come from cracks in the walls, beams or ceilings. They are not limited to traveling by floors as we are! i have seen them crawl down walls, and then onto the bed if it touches the wall. The top bunk will not spare you. So yes, it is very possible that they can crawl down (not necessarily up) right onto the topbunk. Or, they can already be in the mattress when you arrive!

You might consider putting your clothes in plastic bags that are ceiled at night, so you do not carry them to the next albergue. And you will save yourself the trouble of spending half a day, de-bugging your clothes/equipment. Some pilgrims carry heavy duty black plastic bags and put their packs in it at night to prevent the little buggers from getting a free ride the next morning.
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
No doubt on The Bedbug Forum there is a lot of discussion and anticipation of the return of those delicious pilgrims! Poor things, must be hard times!
 

gregrobinson

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
I never saw a bedbug on the Camino. I was there in May /June 2019 and left my pack either on the floor, hanging from the corner of the bunk or in a locker if it was next to the bed. I travel light (2 kilos) and have one of those roll-top waterproof bags inside my pack for my few items. Never had a problem and usually only slept in a silk sleeping bag liner and used the communal blankets if it was cold.
 
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  • We each brought Z Fence Z Clips which creates a protection bubble around us, keeping mosquitos and other various bugs away. Before one of our trips, I contacted the customer service of the manufacturer and asked if the Z Clips are effective against bed bugs. They are! So I wore one on a lanyard around my neck when we were hiking and also during the night. Here's a photo of the Z Clip. View attachment 90697 I'm pretty sure each tablet offers protection for 30 days. A new clip comes with two tablets, so enough protection for a 5 week camino.

These look interesting.
Has anyone found these outside the US?
Postage alone is A$39 :(
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Plan on walking the Camino Frances May 2019, God willing
I wish I could say I had not experienced bed bugs!!! We were in an absolutely immaculate albergue, private room. We got caught in the rain and when we got into the room I stripped off all the wet clothes and hung them over the radiator to dry as we were going on a Monastery tour in a couple hours. I reached into the closet and there were some folded blankets - a bit musty smelling (I figured that was just the wool smell - I did not know that is a bedbug odor!) but I wrapped myself in it. My arms, neck, torso were bit like crazy. Maybe 2 days before I really got the full effect - one arm had 42 bites! Awful. My husband didn't get a single one (twin beds!). We had soaked all out=r stuff in the Permethion before leaving home (?). Washed everything thoroughly in hot water and dryer and fortunately did not have any more.
 
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
I never saw a bedbug on the Camino. I was there in May /June 2019 and left my pack either on the floor, hanging from the corner of the bunk or in a locker if it was next to the bed. I travel light (2 kilos) and have one of those roll-top waterproof bags inside my pack for my few items. Never had a problem and usually only slept in a silk sleeping bag liner and used the communal blankets if it was cold.
Greg

2 kilos isn’t light, it’s naked. Would you post your packing list? Perhaps elsewhere so as to not divert this thread?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
My husband didn't get a single one (twin beds!)
Many people - perhaps a majority - do not react to the bites
These look interesting.
Has anyone found these outside the US?
The Z Fence Z Clips seem to be made or distributed by Evergreen Enterprises, who say "We're a leading vertically-integrated manufacturer and distributor of decorative flags, home furnishings, garden décor, licensed sports product, and fashion accessories."

Not exactly specialists in pest management.

I contacted the customer service of the manufacturer and asked if the Z Clips are effective against bed bugs. They are!
I assume this would be those non-specialists in pest management. I wonder what exactly they said, and on what basis. It seems the capsules slowly release essential oils. I have not yet seen any evidence that essential oils are effective against bedbugs, and especially in the concentrations that would come from these capsules. However, I expect that the customer service person in this case just said "yes". If there were evidence, it would be probably be stated on the packaging as it would increase sales! If there is no evidence, laws of "truth in advertising" apply.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Whilst in private accommodation in Portugal, probably 30 years ago - maybe somewhere in the Peneda Geres area - my wife insisted that I deploy our anti-bug equipment.

This was in the days before the irrational ‘liquids’ prohibition on air travel, so I had a pint of permethrin (OK, neat sheep-dip from my farming neighbour) and four empty margerine tubs.

Each leg of our ‘cama matrimonial’ went into a tub, with a good inch of liquid in there to deter the wildlife.

Total and utter waste of time. There were cockroaches the size of rats in there. God alone knows what size the actual rats were.

We fled at about 0500, well before daybreak. I left my favourite pair of underpants behind - and they were clean. I still miss them.

At the first opportunity we stopped for a brew in the forest, in torrential rain - which had been the case for days. I fired up the gas stove about a minute before a ranger pulled up in his truck and shouted ‘no fuego!’.

I didn’t speak much Portuguese, and he didn’t need much English to understand that tea was being made and drunk, and it was non-negotiable.

Then the sun came out.

Insects? Born survivors.
If we are straying into the historical then I will tell you about when we visited Acapulco in the early 1980's and stayed in a very cheap hotel.

It was hot and so I went to the outside shower cubicle for a cold shower to cool off. The drain didn't have a grate over it and halfway through my shower I wondered why the waste water was backing up.

I looked down at the drain hole and saw a giant cockroach staring up at me she/he was so big that the drain was completely blocked. I think that she was annoyed that I was disturbing her repose and was probably thinking about moving me along.

I was so impressed with the cockroach that I called out to my wife to come over and have a look. For some reason, after that, she (the wife) refused to shower while we were there 😂.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2022
If we are straying into the historical then I will tell you about when we visited Acapulco in the early 1980's and stayed in a very cheap hotel.

It was hot and so I went to the outside shower cubicle for a cold shower to cool off. The drain didn't have a grate over it and halfway through my shower I wondered why the waste water was backing up.

I looked down at the drain hole and saw a giant cockroach staring up at me she/he was so big that the drain was completely blocked. I think that she was annoyed that I was disturbing her repose and was probably thinking about moving me along.

I was so impressed with the cockroach that I called out to my wife to come over and have a look. For some reason, after that, she (the wife) refused to shower while we were there 😂.
Then there was the time, several months later when we were driving West to East across the trans-Canadian hwy and we called into a Youth Hostel somewhere East of Banf, way out in the sticks.

We had got our dates wrong and it was closed for the season but there was no where else to stay so we let ourselves in and picked a room close to the entrance. The electricity was off and so we opened a cold can of something for dinner and put ourselves to bed quite early.

Around one or two AM we woke up hearing a very strange noise in our room. I shone a torch in the direction of the noise and saw a gang of huge rats sharpening their teeth on the remains of our empty can and eyeing us up.

We decided to decamp, grabbed our stuff and retreated to our car for the night 🐁🐀
 
Last edited:

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
If we are straying into the historical then I will tell you about when we visited Acapulco in the early 1980's and stayed in a very cheap hotel.

It was hot and so I went to the outside shower cubicle for a cold shower to cool off. The drain didn't have a grate over it and halfway through my shower I wondered why the waste water was backing up.

I looked down at the drain hole and saw a giant cockroach staring up at me she/he was so big that the drain was completely blocked. I think that she was annoyed that I was disturbing her repose and was probably thinking about moving me along.

I was so impressed with the cockroach that I called out to my wife to come over and have a look. For some reason, after that, she (the wife) refused to shower while we were there 😂.

OK, insect top-trumps it is!

India 1996. Kerala. Mrs HtD and I have planned about three weeks of inexpensive backpacking, reliving a youth which didn’t exist, having been confined to a week in a caravan on the Isle of Man, generally.

Day 2 in the Hotel Seagull in Ernakulam, Mrs HtD glimpses part of a cockroach the size of a badger trying unsuccessfully to hide behind a rucksack.

All pretensions to easy-going hippyish Asian backpacking fell away in an instant, my Amex card was seized, a taxi called and we were sipping G&T on the manicured lawns of the 5* Malabar hotel ten minutes later. Men with sticks patrolled the grounds constantly beating seven bells out of anything which might distress the guests.

Currently I’m stalking three rats which have taken up residence in my barn. MrsHtD has been out to reason with them and give them a few days to leave of their own accord. No wonder so few Buddhists make a successful career in pest control. Meanwhile I’ve been polishing the 12-bore. Generally I’m a ‘live and let live’ kind of chap, but the rats are a bit too close for comfort. I’ll give them a warning shot first.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
A Fonda in El Burgo, Andalusia, Malaga Province, late ‘70’s. Nine of us in an eight bed room (I never asked). You could hear the fleas hopping. I woke in the thick dawn with nary a bite. Sopa de Ajo, marvelous stuff 😉
I’ve tried, but I can’t like that twice; once for the natural insect repellant review and once more for the 9/8. Have a word with Ivar.
 
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OK, insect top-trumps it is!

India 1996. Kerala. Mrs HtD and I have planned about three weeks of inexpensive backpacking, reliving a youth which didn’t exist, having been confined to a week in a caravan on the Isle of Man, generally.

Day 2 in the Hotel Seagull in Ernakulam, Mrs HtD glimpses part of a cockroach the size of a badger trying unsuccessfully to hide behind a rucksack.

All pretensions to easy-going hippyish Asian backpacking fell away in an instant, my Amex card was seized, a taxi called and we were sipping G&T on the manicured lawns of the 5* Malabar hotel ten minutes later. Men with sticks patrolled the grounds constantly beating seven bells out of anything which might distress the guests.

Currently I’m stalking three rats which have taken up residence in my barn. MrsHtD has been out to reason with them and give them a few days to leave of their own accord. No wonder so few Buddhists make a successful career in pest control. Meanwhile I’ve been polishing the 12-bore. Generally I’m a ‘live and let live’ kind of chap, but the rats are a bit too close for comfort. I’ll give them a warning shot first.
I can't beat that Badger sized cockroach but I might best you on quantity.

Earlier in that 1980's trip we had been to Daytona Beach to watch Graeme Crosby win the Daytona 200 plus saying "Hi" to his manager, Giacomo Agostini.

After that we headed down to Miami. I had a recommendation for a backpacker type place to stay in Miami but pre-internet and pre-mobile phone we just turned up. The guy on reception said that they were fully booked but they were in the process of of developing a new wing that wasn't yet ready but they could do us a good price if we were prepared to accept it as-is.

I should have known better but always a bit of a sucker for a bargain we accepted. As we walked towards the "undeveloped" wing he mentioned that he had set off a bug bomb the day before.

He opened the door, ushered us through and then before he closed it behind us he said, "don't worry I haven't bombed your room yet so no problems with toxic substances".

I soon understood why. The floor was carpeted with dead and dieing cockroaches. As we walked they crunched under our feet. There were so many that it was impossible to avoid them.

We walked past the kitchen area on the way to our room and I began to understand why there were so many cockroaches. The prior residents had never cleaned up after eating. They had just left their rubbish and walked out.

I don't think that I had heard of bedbugs in those days or we might not have been game to stay the night but we were Kiwis and we could take a bit of third-world stuff and in any case the cockroaches must have scared any bedbugs away because we never saw any.

It was a restless night and we woke often to hear that rustling/skritching sound that cockroaches make but I didn't notice any crawling across the bed and we were thankful for that.

We headed off the next day in our hire car to explore the quays. On the return to Miami we decided to spend a bit more and go slightly more upmarket. 😂
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (14), Portuguese (15), Le Puy (17), Ingles (17), VDLP (18), Lana (18), Madrid (19) + more
Insect stories? Oooh I have lots!

Here is one:
While living in rural Vietnam my bed housed dozens of cockroaches. I tucked the mosquito net in tight underneath the bamboo mat (no mattress on the hard wooden frame) to create a "safe space". If I had to pee in the night I shone my flashlight "to clear a path" through the insects. When I took a bucket shower I would alternate splashing two cups of water on myself, then a cup of water to send the creeping cockroaches scurrying away. It wasn't too bad, you get used to the little guys!
 

Arn

Veteran Member
Five Caminos and never a bed bug. I check the mattress seems and linings. I don't use albergue blankets. I don't put my pack on the bed. I don't go to bed without washing my clothes and my body.
 

Camino2010

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
SJPP to Santiago (2010)
SJPP to Fisterra (2011)
SJPP to Fisterra/Muxia (2012)
SJPP to Fisterra/Muxia (2015)
SJPP to Fisterra/Muxia (2016)
Nope! Top bunks are where bedbugs have their rooftop (bedtop) dance parties!

A hospitalero friend did once point out to me that if you're in a top bunk, bedbugs can't fall down on you from a bed above. However, I and others have been munched up there before. How rude, hey?!

Hoping for another bedbug free Camino next time. It's been several times since I was that lucky. But head lice on the Camino were worse, I think. And tiger mosquitoes, for me anyway.
 
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djshima

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Future September 2019
In Astorga I had the bottom bunk and my friend had the top bunk. I had zero bites and he had over thirty bites. So I guess you choose your bunk and the let the Camino provide the bedbugs if you need a lesson and are deserving.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
In Astorga I had the bottom bunk and my friend had the top bunk
The incident that I mentioned previously was also in Astorga. But it could happen anywhere. I have stayed there a second time with no issues.

The only time that I've actually seen bedbugs they were on the bunk above mine, and crawling up the wall. (or maybe down 😄)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
In Astorga I had the bottom bunk and my friend had the top bunk. I had zero bites and he had over thirty bites. So I guess you choose your bunk and the let the Camino provide the bedbugs if you need a lesson and are deserving.
Like the rain, I suspect the bed bugs fall on both the deserving and undeserving. I can't say I'm sure what their criteria is, but I think it is something else.
 

SteveV

Enjoy every moment
Year of past OR future Camino
newbie 8/29/17 at SJPD
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
SLEEPING on the top bunk has no relevance to stopping bed bug bites.
Unless this conditions are present:
No bed bugs present.

I’ve inspected many thousands of housing units in the U.S. The best things you should do are;
1. Check the mattress at the seams.
example: at the side and top and bottom. Bed bugs like to congregate at those areas.
2. Lift the mattress up,look for bed bugs,they can be
white- nymphs,
brown - looking to have a meal, black-full of blood. Already been to the smorgasbord.

If the mattress is sealed in plastic , that’s very good.

So several more things.
Look for spots like a blood spot that would happen if you had a pin prick of you finger and the blood dripped on the mattress, remember it will be very tiny.
Bed bugs also like to congregate where the ceiling and wall meet.

So inspect the bed
mattress, top bottom and side and
look at ceiling and wall area.
Look for small brown spots. like dried blood from a bite.
After all that completely close your packback. You could carry a trash bag and seal your pack.
Bed bugs are active when dark.

I haven’t had one bite on 3 camiños
Good luck Buen Camino
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
No
 
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dick bird

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I have looked for an answer in other threads/comments but haven't seen it addressed specifically. Would sleeping only on the top bunks save one from bed bugs? How high can these things crawl anyway? 😳 My only (anecdotal) reference was in Conques on the Le Puy route; myself and several walkers slept on the top floor of the communal refuge, and the lone person who slept on the ground floor got bit a few times.

To come back to bunk beds, I know one's stuff and backpack might stay on the floor and easily accessible to the wee critters but I'm thinking the bugs are only interested in bodies and not equipment? 🪲
I'm not an expert, bit I worked as a hospi so I know a little about bedbugs (including how to say 'bedbug in at least 6 languages). Despite their name, they don't live in the bedding. They tend to live in crevices and cracks in the building such as between floor boards or (in the albergue we worked at) above the fibre tiles of the false ceiling. Top bunks are therefore probably only slightly safer than lower as bedbugs can crawl a very long way. You should move the entire frame of the bunks away from the wall and use an S hook to hang your backpack from the frame of the bunks - they do like to lay their eggs in fabric and can cling on to the outside. Buen camino (when we can.).
 

YogaAnabel

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015)
Via de la Plata (2017)
Do top bunks stop bedbugs?

The stupid ones yes.

But seriously, I can only echo what other people have already said, they're horrible but they won't harm you. Watch out crossing the road, that's the most dangerous thing you do on the Camino.
 

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