Dear Advice Sister Alison: My husband and I wonder if you have a stance on traveling with Adult Toys? We are planning a romantic second honeymoon and would like to bring some intimate toys with us. But we’re traveling with carry-on bags. We are worried that the TSA will search our suitcase and either confiscate them, or at the very least, cause us some embarassment. Do you have any suggestions on how to travel with “adult” items, especially when flying?
Alison Responds: I’ve been asked more than once about traveling with adult toys. While I personally don’t see anything wrong with it, it might be stressful if you feel you want to take these along and get searched. In fact, there was one fairly recent report on the news that a woman’s checked baggage was searched, and the TSA agent left a personal note in her bag that said: “Get your freak on, girl!” The woman, a feminist blogger, had more than a few things to say about it, although she is reported as having “laughed her ass off” once in her hotel room.
The TSA agent who scribbled that on an official search notice was supposedly fired, but if you don’t have a sense of humor, re-think your choices. There may be nothing more embarrassing then having TSA dig through your belongings, only to find your bulky, buzzing vibrator. This is the one thing they’ll pull it out of your bag, waving it around, and questioning you about it, while a long line of annoyed travelers stands in wait behind you. Of course they’ll also require you to turn it on, while you silently squirm.
Personal morays differ when it comes to intimate toys. If you choose to travel with them, especially when flying or visiting friends and family, you need to be able to stand tall and proud about it. They’re not illegal to carry on board an airplane (at least, not yet). Perhaps you are daring enough to use them in a “mile high club” escapade, let alone at your final destination. But you still should make some good decisions about how to pack them.
The obvious solution is first, whenever possible, pack adult items in your checked baggage. But if you are taking just carry-on, you’ll want to remove the batteries from any battery-driven devices. This will ensure that your toy doesn’t turn on at security, before it has a chance to turn you on, later on! It also ensures that the batteries won’t leak while in transit.
Although the scanners can look through bags, you might also want to place adult items in a padded or protective, cloth bag, layered in-between your clothes. The cloth bag will not only protect your toy from getting dirty, broken, or directly manhandled by TSA, it also makes them less obvious. Sometimes items aren’t easily identified by the TSA agents as they go through the scanner, and they just need to know what they’re seeing. If that happens to you, and you do get selected for further baggage inspection, a cloth bag at least gives you some extra time to explain to the TSA agent what they’re about to see. That might be enough for them to understand that it’s not a security risk, and they might not pull it out and fully examine it. Also remember that whether you’re carrying the items on, or packing them in a checked bag, checked bags are screened, too. Don’t put anything in your bag that might look like a weapon. If it does, your bag will be opened and your item(s) may be confiscated. You’ll know when you get to the baggage claim and there’s a piece of paper in your bag saying it was “inspected.”
Once on vacation, you are on your own. But while some families and friends respect total privacy, others do not. So if you’re traveling to a family home, you may want your adult toy choices to be a bit more discreet. If you’re going to be around a lot of family or friends and don’t want to risk them finding your toys, travel with adult items that look like they’re something else: a rubber duck, lipstick, mascara, etc. This will stop raised eyebrows when youngsters enter your room, prospect uninvited through your things, and then bring your vibrator downstairs to exclaim in front of your entire clan: “Auntie, what is this for?! ”
The Advice Sisters actually reviewed adult toys a while back that look like a bag full of bona-fide beauty items. You can find quite a few items like this at online retailers such as Adam and Eve. If that’s not your thing, at least take smaller toys that are not so obvious. Other adult items (E.g. lube) can simply be put into that standard, quart-sized clear bag, masked by other “liquid” items, as long as it is less than 3 ounces. It is the container size that matters, so even if the bottle is half empty, if the the container is more than the standard size, the TSA will confiscate it and throw it away.
The TSA agents probably have seen a lot worse than your tube of lube, or your adult toy. Maybe we should all just relax a bit more about this kind of thing! If you are singled out at security, just act like it’s no big deal, and they will do the same. If your friends and family find your adult stuff, remember that it was your choice to bring it, so it’s best not to make a big deal out of it, look sheepish, or apologize. This may seem like common sense advice, but an ounce of precaution can make your travels easier and hopefully, a lot more satisfying!
*this feature was brought to you by Adam & Eve.