Most of us have experience with the vast set of rules the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put in place for travel, including shoe removal and examination of pretty much any item containing metal. However, many travelers are unaware of the rules concerning vibrators and other pleasure devices.
My first experience traveling with sex toys was my summer trip to Rhode Island for my internship with the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. I packed the We-Vibe Tango (an interesting choice, as it doesn’t have a lock, and flashes light when it needs charged, which could potentially set off some alarms in the head of an airline security guard) and the Fun Factory Semolino (which locks) into my checked baggage. I had no issues on the way there, though packing for my trip home led to this little incident of a vibrating suitcase, which funnily enough was due to the vibrator that DID have a locking mechanism.
My next experience of air travel and sex toys included several toys being packed into my checked baggage for a trade with other bloggers. I had no issues on the way to Woodhull, though on the way, two of us were stopped for an extra look over. We were told this was more due to our wearing dresses than anything else. Apparently dresses have a more difficult time in an airport security line than many other forms of clothing.
Lubricants go by the same 3-1-1 rule as other liquids, meaning that a bottle may contain no more than 3.4 ounces, all containers must fit into one one-quart plastic bag, and each traveler is allowed only one of these bags. If you’re going on a short trip, I recommend grabbing a handful of sample sizes from your local adult shop, rather than using a whole bottle to take away space in your single plastic bag from other essential toiletries.
Another reason to grab samples rather than bringing a bottle is that some lubes travel better than others. Water-based lubricant spilling in a bag is no big deal, but spill silicone lubricant in a bag, and you’ll have some serious regrets, as it stains fabrics and is almost impossible to wash off of other items, which will be slippery and oily to the touch.
While some toys can certainly be placed into your carry on, other toys are best left in your checked baggage. Vibrators, dildos, and other toys that are shorter than seven inches are acceptable for your carry-on. In order to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations in the security line, remove your batteries and engage your lock features to prevent any sudden vibrating in your bag. It’s also a good idea to place your toys in plastic bags, so security workers can see what it is without having to touch it.
Other carry-on approved toys include handcuffs, rope, strap-on harnesses and other products made of leather, fabric or buckles. That said, carrying handcuffs and rope onto an airplane would make me a lot more nervous (and probably a lot more of a target) than carrying on sex toys.
There are some toys that fit into a grey area, and may be best to put into your checked baggage. These include oversized toys, whips, paddles, and electrical stimulants. Riding whips and crops are approved for carry on, while whips and bullwhips are considered defense equipment, and must be placed in checked baggage. When it comes to paddles, ping-pong paddles are approved for carry on. In this case, comparing your paddles’ size to that of ping-pong paddles can help you decide what is better left checked. Electrical stimulants that are used for pain treatment are acceptable in carry-ons; however, the rules on stun-guns are a little hazy, so your violet wand may be better left checked. You are better off to check any items made of glass or especially stainless steel.
Items that absolutely cannot go in your carry on are those with sharp edges or points (it’s probably best to check that sexy spiked collar) and those that are similar in size, shape or weight to clubs, bats or batons. Your njoy Eleven and the 17-inch dildo your friends got you as a prank are best left in your checked baggage.
Discussing the vibrator that a security worker has found in your bag can be nerve-wracking for many, considering the sex-related taboos of our society. However, many modern vibrators come in such odd shapes and such a wide variety of colors that their appearance doesn’t automatically categorize them as a sex toy. Much like the toy delivered in your mail, ‘silicone sculpture’ may be enough of a descriptor for some airlines. There are several other terms you can use as descriptors as well. You can say ‘personal device’ or ‘personal toy.’ You also reserve the right to be screened in private, which allows for a search and discussion of carry-on contents without calling (more) attention to yourself from other travelers.
If nothing else, you can always check your toys and save yourself the stress of the security line. If you are traveling within the U.S., you can most likely find an inexpensive vibrator at a pharmacy at your destination (not that I highly recommend most pharmacy-quality toys). Whatever happens, tell the truth when asked about the nature of your carry-on items. Dodging around the topic will ultimately just make more trouble than it’s worth. When it comes down to bag search or a conversation with a security person, remember that, much like a trip to the doctor, a security guard has seen a lot of things, and I doubt there’s many surprises in your suitcase.
One last thing to be aware of when traveling with personal devices are the laws of your destination. Alabama is currently the only state with a legal ban on all sex toys. Many other countries have bans on personal devices. Make sure to do a little pre-travel research to know what is and isn’t okay for travel.