As you might imagine, working at Crave often involves travel with at least a few dozen vibrators. For many people, this would be a nightmare scenario. The TSA officer reaches into your bag and pulls out your favorite purple vibrator. He lets it dangle from two fingers and raises his eyebrows. “And what is this?” he asks, loud enough that everyone around you turns to see what he’s holding. You turn red, and the surrounding crowd bursts into cruel laughter.
It’s a valid concern: nobody wants their private belongings seen by strangers. The good news, though, is that the scenario above is extremely unlikely—just a nightmare! While the popular media has reported one or two incidents of travelers being harassed, these incidents are not the norm. Vibrators are lawful to possess everywhere in the United States, and they don’t require any more screening than any other electronic device. The vast majority of TSA and airport personnel have seen it all and are probably thinking about their lunch break instead of your vibrator.
Some Tips for Traveling With Vibrators
Prevent your vibrator from turning on accidentally. If the vibe has batteries, remove them, and if it has a built-in lock, engage it. The TSA recommends keeping your batteries in carry-on luggage (And if they’re loose lithium batteries—that is, not built-in—they have to go in carry-on.).
There’s a possibility your vibe will be inspected, so it’s a good idea to throw your vibe in a clear plastic bag so that a TSA officer can take a look without putting their hands on it. They’re wearing those gloves for a reason, after all. They have to touch hundreds of strangers’ belongings every day, and there’s no need to expose your toy to more germs than necessary.
Don’t forget your lubricants and other potions! The 3-1-1 rule for liquids in carry-on isn’t always enforced any more, but it’s still in effect. Just like other liquids, lubes should be carried in 3 ounce or smaller containers. Another option is to buy convenient sample-sized packets of lube.
Size does matter. Remember that the TSA restricts hand tools longer than 7 inches in length in carry-on baggage, so if you a have a longer toy, it might fall into the category of “baton-like” or “club-like” items that have to be checked. TSA sometimes confiscates items from checked luggage when they cannot tell what they are, so if you think your toy is ambiguous, consider attaching a note.
Want to bring along other kinds of toys? Check out the guidelines below or try the TSA website.
Definitely okay to carry-on
- Vibrators, dildos, toys shorter than 7 inches
- Lubes/potions in 3 oz or less containers
- Strap-on harnesses or other gear made of leather, fabric, buckles
Gray Areas: might be a good idea to check it
- Toys longer than 7 inches, especially ones made of hard or heavy materials
- Whips: the TSA specifies that “riding whips” and “riding crops” are okay to carry-on, but “whips” and “bullwhips” are martial arts/self-defense equipment that must be checked.
- Paddles: the TSA specifies that ping-pong paddles are okay to carry-on, so paddles of about that size should be, too.
- E-stim: TENS units for pain treatment are okay to carry-on, so our guess is that e-stim units will be treated the same way.
Must check it:
- Objects with sharp edges or points.
- Objects that are similar in size/shape/weight to clubs, bats, or batons.
At the airport
First, remember that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Vibrators are commonplace nowadays, and many people travel with them. There’s a strong chance that you won’t even be asked about the vibe in your bag.
But if you are asked, respond with a straightforward, “That’s my vibrator.” These three little words are recommended by experts as the best and easiest way to end the conversation and get on your way. As tempting as it can be to lie, honesty really is the best policy, and lying to the TSA can get you into actual trouble. Just know that, while the TSA may have a right to the truth, you have a right to your dignity.
Tips for Avoiding Discomfort
- Don’t think you can utter “vibrator” without breaking into hives? Use a euphemism. Personal device? Personal toy? Marital aid?
- Bring a toy that doesn’t look like a sex toy. This is not a matter of tricking the TSA—it’s the electronics inside the toy that typically ping their radars. But if they need to take the vibe out of your bag, a discreet toy won’t call attention from nearby travelers.
- Ask to be screened in private.
- Check your toy instead.
- Leave it at home, and pick up an inexpensive model at a pharmacy when you arrive.
Remember, finally, that if you’re headed out of the United States, it’s a good idea to do some research on the laws and culture of the particular country where you are traveling, as some countries have more restrictive laws about sex toys. (A partial list of countries where sex toys are illegal: India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates). Also remember to keep the US embassy’s phone number on your at all times, just in case.