A honeymoon. An anniversary weekend. A long-distance relationship. A special overnight liaison. A hookup at the No-Tell Motel. A business trip that’s destined to be anything but boring. There are all kinds of reasons you might want to take some of your favorite bedroom equipment on the road, but whatever yours is, you might face some challenges when it comes to prepping and packing, especially if air travel is involved.
Before you go anywhere—be it by plane, car, or covered wagon—make sure you know the rules about what is and isn’t allowed in your destination city. In most of North America, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if your travels require a passport and a trans-Atlantic flight, check the regulations in your destination nation (and any layovers in between) to ensure that you don’t run afoul of the law before you even leave the airport.
Also, prior to deciding on your destination, you might want to consider local customs and laws. For instance: You may not want to spend your honeymoon in Saudi Arabia, where public displays of affection can land you in jail, or even India, where it is socially unacceptable. You would be wiser to choose a destination in Western Europe or Latin America, where public handholding and kissing are commonplace and acceptable.
TSA regulations don’t specifically cover sex toys, but if you use a little common sense, you can extrapolate from the items that are covered what is and isn’t likely to cause trouble. Lubricant, for instance, is subject to the infamous three-ounce rule, so make sure to stock up on travel-sized packages of your favorite lube and stow them in a gallon-size plastic zipper bag along with your shampoo and toothpaste.
The jury is out on whether to stow your toys in your checked luggage or your carry-on; Dr. Trina Read, for one, recommends carrying everything on, while Violet Blue and others suggest checking everything you possibly can. You’ll want to pack according to what’s most important to you in your particular circumstances, but if your primary concern is ensuring that your toys arrive at your destination safely, you may have more peace of mind carrying them on. Even if you carry on some items, don’t carry on vibrators that are exceptionally large or might look like a weapon under the x-ray machine (dual-actions are famous for this), metal dildos, or any S&M equipment. (Cattle prods, you’ll note, are expressly prohibited in carry-ons, but are allowed in checked bags. I’m sure this will come as a relief to many of you.)
Packing a vibrator in your bag may increase the likelihood that you will experience delays during the security screening, and you may potentially face a situation in which your dildo is manhandled by a TSA officer while you (and everyone else in the bag check line) look on. Metal, mechanical, or potentially dangerous items are more likely to cause longer delays or even be confiscated in carry-on baggage, so check them or leave them home. Just be sure to remove the batteries from anything that vibrates, and pack replacements separately, preferably in their original packaging. (For more information on safe travel with batteries and battery-powered devices, see the TSA.) And you should still package your toys inside clear zipper bags to keep them tidy in the event that your checked bags are randomly searched. Even better: label the bags “sex aids” to make the staff’s search easier and reduce the risk that the items will be confiscated or tampered with.
Non-mechanical sex toys shouldn’t cause problems with the security scanner unless they’re aluminum or some other kind of metal, so avoid taking your Kegelcisor or stainless-steel ben wa beads in your carry-ons. Most rubber, plastic, or glass dildos should be fine, either as carry-ons or in your checked luggage, but do consider the shape and size of the toy: If it looks like it could be used as a weapon, leave it home. Don’t pack your favorite or most expensive toys, or any that are unique or have sentimental value. If the worst happens and your toy is confiscated, you’ll be less heartbroken if you know your beloved Hitachi Magic Wand or your $150 SaSi is safe at home.
Of course, TSA screeners have seen their share of personal items in the course of their work, so don’t think your Rabbit Habit is the first they’ve seen this month—or even this week. If a toy does prompt a security officer to search your bag, you can always discreetly request that your bag be searched in a private room. But seasoned travelers who frequently pack sex toys report that most employees respond best to straightforward explanations, so don’t be afraid to tell them, “That’s not a weapon; it’s a sex aid.” Just don’t offer to demonstrate, and try to refrain from making terrible sex as weaponry puns. I guarantee that the officer has heard it before, and not only is it not that funny, it could actually get you arrested. Save yourself the trouble and pack your own handcuffs instead.
Now, what if your travel plans include business associates—or your grandmother—and privacy is paramount? In that case, you’ll want to check most of your items and make sure they are well hidden and discreet. If you’ll have privacy when you arrive at your destination, pack your toys inside socks in your checked luggage. If you’ll be in a situation where privacy will be limited, look into some of the sex toys on the market that don’t look like sex toys. There are plenty to choose from, so invest in a vibrator that looks like a tube of lipstick, or an ordinary sponge. Guys can always fall back on the trusty Fleshlight in a pinch. (And if all else fails, I hear that an electric toothbrush can do the job and will give you no trouble at the security checkpoint.)
If you’re traveling by car, bus, or train, you have more freedom in what you can take with you and how it’s packed, but you still need to plan ahead if potential embarrassment is at stake. Again, sex toys that don’t look like sex toys are useful, but if you will be sharing quarters with young children or other nosy relatives, consider bringing your toys in a lockbox, or a specially designed pillow with a discreet zippered pocket. When flying, smaller lockboxes should be left unlocked inside your suitcase until you arrive at your destination to avoid arousing suspicion at the airport, but if you’re traveling by land or sea, go ahead and lock the box before you leave. Just don’t forget the key!