Disregard the language in the title of this post. I apologise for offending anyone. In Australia we are happy to be a little colourful in speech at the right times [Limitations of course].
This post is about bed bugs. I HATE BED BUGS.
Firstly let me just say, I have stayed in hostels in over twenty different states of North America, Australia, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, and Greece as well as in China and Hong Kong, and i have never experienced bed bugs. I have even and a friend who has stayed in the same room [different bed] have them and not myself. Either I am extremely lucky, or my preventions have been more helpful than i believed.
Firstly when booking accommodation i read the reviews. I read several recent and pick out ambiguously past reviews over the last couple of the years [bed bugs can live one year without feeding]. A bed bug or other insect remark returns me to the search page. If i choose a hotel that does not mention any bug related issues i still check it against the Bed Bug Registry at http://www.bedbugregistry.com [U.S.A ONLY].
I always bring my own pillowcase! I buy a cheap seat before I leave home for the amount of hotels or hostels I stay in per trip, not per night. Note if i stay 4 1/2 star or above i will use theres. [I HAVE THOUGH [once on a cruise ship] had disgusting pillowcases so i took them off and used one of my own, and washed it after a few uses]. The benefits of this is your face is protected not to mention the oils from your face rubbing on the pillow can cause acne. I know hotels and hostels alike wash their linen but i just feel more comfortable with my own fresh linen to rest my face on.
I also have a sleeping bag that i take on trips with extended stay at a hostel. [This sleeping bag is extremely tiny and rolls up, it’s actually a sheet and has an insert for a pillow if you forgot your pillow cases] I sleep in this under blankets or in hot weather just this. The same effect can be had by taken a queen or king sheet folding it over and tucking in the bottom. Here is a link to the sleeping bag sheet. .
Spray your luggage [few days before you pack] with bug spray. This is a link to a good spray http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/rest-easy-bed-bug-spray-p-848.html. You can also put a dryer sheet in there to stop the smell of the bug spray and any scented sprays, as well as a liner. I prefer to just spray the outside of the bag especially at the zips [closed of course]. Take this spray with you as well for the beds.
Inspect bedroom upon entrance: Don’t put bags on luggage racks [they can hide there] also check the head-board of beds, night stand, inside night stand draws, pull back the sheets and where the mattress joins the bed frame. If you spot something immediately report to management and change rooms, i doubt they will argue with you over the issue.
Keep luggage in bathroom/laundry, you can see exactly what you are looking at on a tile.
Use the bed bug spray you bought with you and spray the bed feet, the head-board and where the mattress meets the bed frame. I also do a light spray of the bed with the top sheets off and shake out all the sheets some distance away from the bed and give them a quick spray as well. Then i will put on the bed my sleeping bag sheet, my pillow case. and use only the quilt that was given and use it on half of the bed and fold it down about 1/2 a metre from my face. If in a cold climate i will use one sheet as well but still fold down, and wear extra clothes and perhaps a beanie to bed.
I also spray myself with extra bug repellent [The normal spray you would use for mosquitoes only etc] .
Also wear thick socks to bed and tights if you can [ if its to hot just sleep on top of the bed without sheets laying on top of the bed sheet you bought with you and tuck extra quilts sheets from the bed far away].
Chemical Free Alternatives
I found this bed bug spray which i used in Australia when staying on the gold coast back in 2008. Insects do not like lavender [we do it smells lovely, much nicer than bug spray smell]. Here is the recipe not sure where I got it from this was written down in one of my old journals so I do not take credit for its effectiveness.