Bed Bugs are definitely reappearing in the United States. I work in the pest control industry and very rarely go one week without getting a call about possible bed bug activity. With the increased attention about this pest there have been a lot of false alarms also. If there is presence of bed bugs in the hotel room, then rubbing alcohol will be beneficial for killing them. The alcohol and heat can kill bed bugs present in the room.
I am going to write a few steps you can take, and also some things to look for when you check into a room.
This information will also apply to your home. Keep in mind that a quick inspection will find most infestations but sometimes they can be very tricky. They can be in the walls, in the box spring, even behind picture frames. We deal with them all the time and still have a hard time finding them in some situations. Bed Bugs travel on people, suitcases, and clothing. Bed Bugs are attracted to humans and generally feed at night. They can go without feeding for months and some adults have gone well over a year without a meal and still survived. You will want to keep that in mind if you think you have been in an infestation. I have attached a picture of Bed Bugs and a picture of fecal droppings on a mattress. The droppings are usually the easiest thing to look for when you check into a room. They are a sign of a current infestation or a past one. Either way, it is good information to know. The attached pictures will give you an idea of what to look for.
The first thing you might notice is the smell in a room. You can actually smell a really bad infestation that has been there for awhile, it will have a musty odor. What I do first when I get to my room is inspect the luggage rack or closet for signs of activity. That is where I would recommend putting luggage, not on the floor or on the bed. Some people even leave luggage in there car and wash all cloths before going home. Next pull back the bedding to get a look at the mattress, (the sheets should be fresh and will not have any signs of activity.) look at the top of the mattress by the headboard. Look in the seams, between the wall and the mattress, and behind the headboard. Most headboards lift up and off. Use two people if possible so you do not drop or damage something you will have to pay for later. Look for the bugs and the fecal dropping mentioned earlier. You can check around the nightstand also, pull the drawer etc. Remember to check both beds if you are in a double. At this point if you do not find any signs of activity, I would feel good about staying in the room. Remember they can be in walls and box springs, so there are no guaranties.
If you do find activity I would ask for a new room or a refund. If you think you have been in an infestation there are a few steps you should take when you get home so you do not transmit them to your house. Do not unpack your suitcase on your bed; I would unpack in the tub. The white tub will let you see any insects and you can wash any of them down the drain. If you have activity very quickly get your clothes into the washing machine. Wash with the hottest water, using detergent. Then dry on the hottest setting. Do not forget your suitcase, (personally I would throw it away) shoes or anything else that has been in the room. You do not want to get these in your home.
A few quick notes; Bed Bugs have not been shown to transmit disease like a mosquito. Sometimes the bites will not show up for a few days, but some people have severe allergic reaction to there bite. The bite can produce large swellings on the skin that will itch and become infected if scratched.
I hope travel has not been ruined for anybody, but Bed Bugs can be very hard and expensive to get rid of if you bring them home. We have thrown away many mattresses over the past few years. If you check on the Internet, there are sights that people are reporting activity. You just type in the address of the hotel and see if there is any report.