The Camino to Santiago might be a spiritual journey, but it’s not exempt from common earthly troubles like bed bugs. Who would have thought that such little creatures could be such a huge pain in the neck? In the past decade, bed bugs have infested some albergues along the Camino causing trouble not only to pilgrims but also hospitaleros.
Although inconvenient, the problem is being handled and should not be a reason to give this one-of-a-kind journey. In fact, bed bugs are not exclusive to the Camino or the cheap albergues. You can equally come across them in a five-star hotel. Their widespread reign was not brought about by uncleanliness as much as by the massive increase in international travel.
Before I get started on how to fight these little incarnations of evil, let’s get something straight!
Camino ≠ bed bugs
While it’s a problem, it’s also very likely you will walk the entire way without making this unpleasant acquaintance. Many pilgrims, me included, experience a bedbug-free pilgrimage. And if there is an outbreak in an albergue, be 10 or 200 km away, you will know about it (you would be surprised how fast rumors travel on the road).
Bedbugs, or in fancy terms – Cimex lectularius, is a blood-sucking insect. They are, quite simply, a de-romanticised version of vampires.
There are a few things you can do to prevent bedbug infestation before you leave for the Camino.
You know there are (or have been) bedbugs if you can find the following indicators on the mattress or bed frame:
After the process is done thoroughly examine all the seams and pockets of all your items. It’s a hassle, I know, but if you fail to act quickly, you risk spreading the bedbugs to other albergues and even to your home after your return.
Bedbugs have been a problem on the Camino but definitely not a reason to give up the pilgrimage altogether. It’s probable you will not come across any infected albergues. Plus, if you follow advice and check beforehand, you will be able to avoid impending disaster and find another place to sleep.
Keep safe, be smart and don’t let the bedbugs bite!