Don’t Get Bugged When You Travel

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Don't get bugged when you travel ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Presented by SC Johnson

Catching the travel bug has its pleasures and its perils. A blanket of insect bites or a raging fever is not a souvenir anyone wants to bring home from a trip.

Wherever your adventures lead, enjoying them to the fullest requires distancing yourself from the local insect life, which can include mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies (reviled as “no-see-ums”) and chiggers.


Travelers bound for Central and South America, Africa, India and southeast Asia often receive preventive medicines before they depart. But vaccines don’t exist for all mosquito-borne viruses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection says the reliability of such treatments varies. That’s why the CDC advises even vaccinated travelers to apply insect repellents on the ground.


The good news: Protection can be packed in checked baggage if you’re traveling domestically or purchased once you’ve arrived at your destination if you’re headed overseas.

Travel Recommended, Bug rejected

To fend off mosquitoes at home and afar, the CDC advises arming yourself with insect repellents containing active ingredients, including DEET, picaridin and icaridin.

1. Deet: Effective against ticks too, the active ingredient DEET originated with the U.S. Army in 1946 and boasts a long-track record of success. Modern formulations, such as OFF!® Familycare Insect Repellent I (Smooth & Dry) have tamed the greasy texture and pungent odor for which DEET was once known. Just note that DEET can react with synthetic materials, so do not apply on or near acetate, rayon, spandex, other synthetics (aside from nylon), furniture, plastics (watch your sunglasses), watch crystals, leather and painted or varnished surfaces, including automobiles.  

2. Picaridin and icaridin: Newer to the fight against mosquitoes, picaridin and icaridin products date to the late ‘90s but debuted in the United States around 2005. Picaridin offers protection comparable to DEET with no odor and a light texture. It also does not react with synthetic materials. Picaridin is contained in OFF!® FamilyCare Clean Feel products in the U.S. as well as products by Autan, a brand that is widely available overseas.  

Overseas travel

If you’re traveling by air, keep in mind that insect repellents face the same restrictions as other liquids and aerosols. Those traveling abroad should note that many airlines prohibit repellents in either checked or carry-on baggage. Call your airline or refer to its web site for limits before you pack.


If you travel without repellent, duck into a local supermarket or pharmacy to buy some once you’ve arrived at your destination. As a precaution before you embark, check the CDC Travelers’ Health website for updates. Apply as needed to enjoy every moment of your getaway.

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