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Does Hard Shell Luggage Prevent Bed Bugs?

Many people worry about bed bugs when they travel. 

This fear leads them to wonder how best to keep bed bugs out of their suitcases so that they don’t bring them home. 

And since online advice claims that hard shell luggage will keep bed bugs out, many people begin to think that putting their stuff in one of these bags will protect them. 

Unfortunately, though, using hard shell luggage will not prevent bed bugs from getting into your belongings. However, it is harder for bed bugs to get inside hard shell luggage because they have a difficult time climbing up its sides.  

Can Bed Bugs Get Inside of Hard Shell Luggage?

A cropped photo of a man sitting on rusty stairs while holding black luggage.

Yes, bed bugs can get inside of hard shell luggage. 

But, the hard plastic and vertical edges make it more difficult for them to scale. 

Yet, since bed bugs are very tiny and light, they can crawl vertically up hard surfaces, like plastic suitcases, if they try. 

Thus, although it may be a bit harder for these insects to get into hard shell suitcases, it is far from impossible. 

How Can I Protect My Suitcase From Bed Bugs When Traveling?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to keep bed bugs out of your suitcase. 

However, following the tips below will significantly diminish your chances of getting bed bugs in your luggage. 

Look at Your Hotel’s Reviews 

Your first step to keep from getting bed bugs while traveling should be to look at your hotel’s reviews. 

See if you can find any responses mentioning bed bugs. 

If you notice several people talking about bed bugs, you shouldn’t stay at that hotel because it shows that the staff isn’t protecting their guests as they should. 

If there are only one or two posts about bed bugs, though, you shouldn’t completely disregard that hotel. 

Just about every hotel gets bed bugs at some point, and since these insects are so tiny, it can be challenging for hotel staff to detect them. 

So, you should see if any of the people who commented about bed bugs discussed how the hotel dealt with the situation. 

If they mentioned that staff were not helpful and refused to move them to a different room, you shouldn’t stay at that establishment. 

Because if you find bed bugs in your room, they may be unwilling to move you. 

Pack Your Items in Sealable Bags 

When packing for a vacation, you should place everything in sealable bags. 

Packing this way gives you an extra layer of protection against bed bugs since they can’t hide as easily, allowing you to spot and remove them. 

You should also bring some extra sealable bags to store your dirty clothes so that you can protect them as well. 

Check Your Room for Signs of Bed Bugs 

As soon as you get to your room, you should look for signs of bed bugs. 

And since bed bugs and their eggs are so small, you may want to bring a magnifying glass and a flashlight to help you search. 

Look on the sides of the mattress, in crevices on the bed frame, and along the baseboards of the wall for indications of bed bugs. 

If you think there may be bed bugs, contact the front desk and ask for another room. 

Store Your Luggage Properly 

Ideally, the best place to store your luggage in a hotel is on a metal luggage rack. 

Bed bugs have a hard time climbing up metal, so it’s doubtful they’ll be able to get to your bag. 

However, bed bugs can climb walls, so you will want to pull the rack away at least an inch or two from the wall. 

Or, if no luggage rack is available, you can store your bags in the bathtub. 

Bed bugs usually don’t hide out in bathrooms, and it won’t be easy for them to climb the sides of the tub. 

Additionally, you should keep your bag zipped up or latched as much as possible to prevent bed bugs from climbing inside. 

Don’t Lay Your Clothes on the Bed 

It’s no secret that bed bugs prefer to live on or around mattresses. 

Thus, when staying at a hotel, never lay your clothes or other items on the bed. 

Don’t Put Your Clothes in the Drawers 

Many people assume that bed bugs only live around beds, but this is a misconception. 

While bed bugs do favor mattresses, they will live in just about any dark, secluded area. 

Therefore, it is not uncommon to find bed bugs inside drawers. 

So, you should keep your clothes in your bag instead of putting them in the dresser. 

And this is where having a hard shell suitcase is helpful because it is easier to keep your clothes folded nicely in them than other types of luggage. 

Never Assume That a Hotel Doesn’t Have Bed Bugs 

Maybe you’re staying at a five-star hotel, and you don’t see anything in their reviews about bed bugs. 

Well, unfortunately, you should still not assume that there aren’t bed bugs in your room. 

Bed bugs are not attracted to grime and garbage in the way that many other insects are. 

Instead, they only care about having access to blood. 

And since all hotels have people for these pests to feed on, any inn can have bed bugs, no matter how clean, fancy, or expensive it is. 

Thus, you should always take precautions when staying the night away from home. 

How Do I Know if There Are Bed Bugs in My Luggage or Hotel Room?

Inside a hotel, a woman in a black t-shirt packs her belongings into her luggage.

The only way to tell if your room has bed bugs is to look for evidence of them. 

And the most common signs of bed bugs are: 

  • Bed bugs (The actual insect)
  • Bed bug eggs 
  • Bed bug egg casings 
  • Bed bug excrement (Appears as black or rusty-colored dots)
  • Bed bug exoskeletons 
  • A sweet, musty odor 

If you discover any of these indications of bed bugs, you should assume the bag or room has an infestation. 


Hard shell luggage may help keep bed bugs out of your belongings, but it doesn’t offer much more protection than other types of bags. 

Overall, the best way to keep bed bugs out of your luggage is to follow the steps above by inspecting your hotel room and properly storing your items while vacationing.