Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Flying with Sex Toys

A briefcase full of Crave vibrators, as seen by the TSA. Photo by Ti Chang.

A briefcase full of Crave vibrators, as seen by the TSA. Photo by Ti Chang.

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
  • Handcuffs
  • Strap-on harnesses or other gear made of leather, fabric, buckles
  • Rope

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.

Happy Travels! 

4 Comments

  1. mwalloughby@yahoo.com on January 24, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    My wife and I were going through the Nashville airport and our favorite toy, your fabulous Duet Lux, was in my carry-on luggage. Going through the security screen, I was singled out for a special search. The good news is that the TSA agent took me to a table and opened my luggage in a more or less private spot. He discretely pulled out the Duet from its zippered leather case and asked, "What is this? Some kind of tuning fork?" After all, Nashville Tennessee is also known as Music City USA. I thought about just agreeing with him, but a quiet voice inside of me said that lying to a TSA agent is probably a federal crime, so I said, "Well, it keeps some things in tune, that’s for sure." I thought he might get it, but, no. His expression told me he was still waiting for some explanation. "It’s a vibrator," I said matter-of-factly. "Does it have batteries?," he inquired. "No," I said, taking the Duet out of his hands and pulling it apart to reveal the charging port, "It’s charged through a USB." His face at last told me that he got it. "Cool," he said. I half expected him to ask me for where to get one for himself, but the encounter ended professionally and I was dismissed. On our way to the gate, I shared the encounter with my wife, who said, "Good thing you didn’t bring Doc." Doc is our pet name for a 7-inch, truly wicked, life-like dildo that was securely resting in the bottom drawer of my nightstand at home. We often use Doc in tandem with the Duet, a practice my wife enjoys immensely as you might imagine. Good thing, indeed. I cannot now turn on the Duet without wondering what musical key it actually vibrates in. I think it might be E-Sharp.



  2. Andrea Ryan on January 27, 2015 at 2:00 am

    Oh just rock Vesper and be on your merry way!



  3. Sheila D on February 20, 2015 at 8:59 am

    The security guy in Amsterdam took out my Crave Duet and asked me what it was and I told him it was a massager. He said, "For the face?" and he was a young Dutch guy so I just smirked and said sure. He turned it on and almost put it on his face until his other young attractive co-worker came over and spoke to him in Dutch most likely letting him know it wasn’t a "face" massager and he turned beat red and turned it off and put it back in the case. I will never forget that 😉 I lost my other Duet while on a trip and I am so missing it I am buying another one right away!!



  4. RG on April 2, 2015 at 4:20 am

    TSA says handcuffs are OK. But they definitely are not OK in Amsterdam airport. I assumed they were not OK but my partner had packed them in my carry on, and I was as surprised as the cute security girl to find them there. She took them out, figured they were pretty solid, said she would have to take them as they could be used to restrain someone on the flight, and gave me a sympathetic look while offering me the leather case the cuffs came in. She saw other toys so it was obvious the cuffs were not meant to take passengers hostage, but rules are rules I guess.



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