I am a reluctant flyer. I hate heights. I hate tight spaces. I hate the idea of being stuck in a tin can seated next to a crying baby, or worse—being stuck in a tin can seated next to a crying baby with wet, boogery, grabby hands. After a decade of fierce Amtrak loyalty, I started to warm up to the idea of getting from point A to point B in two hours, and I decided to give flying a second chance. Only this time, I had a new set of anxieties.
What To Do With Your Sex Toys And The TSA?
PORN. DILDOS. AND LUBE. (Oh my)
Let me open this by sharing with you the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in the TSA security line: I committed the cardinal sin of putting another object in the bin with my laptop. There are roughly six billion signs that remind you to remove your laptop from your bag (though you can keep it in a TSA-approved sleeve) and place it in a bin by itself, but sometimes the anxiety of keeping the line moving, yanking off your shoes, and making sure all your stuff is ready and accessible results in human error. In this instance, that error was me dropping my phone, keys, and wallet into the bin with my laptop.
I’m the kind of girl who keeps her computer on until it becomes so sluggish that I’m forced to restart it. I’m also the kind of girl who charges her phone with her laptop because the charging areas in airports and train stations are often crowded. I am, of course, also the kind of girl who keeps twelve tabs open linking to the dashboards of the various sites I use; the kind of girl whose desktop is littered with overlapping nudes, gifs, promotional flyers, and the occasional screenshot of someone getting roasted on social media. So trust me when I say that if you’re anything like me, you don’t want the TSA forcing you to open your laptop in public to prove it’s not a bomb.
Internet, I was publicly shamed.
No, not for my nudes (though I still think that agent owes me at least a fiver!), but for my lack of reading comprehension. He gestured me over to a small table, sighed disappointedly, and asked, “ma’am, what is this?” Obviously, it was a laptop, and I told him as much. He then asked me to read the sign that reminds us to keep our laptops (and other large electronics!) in a separate bin. I apologized, but it was too little, too late, and I had to open up my laptop for him. A man saw my bare ass that day and he didn’t even have to pay for it. To avoid following in my footsteps, you could clean up your desktop before leaving your house, or more practically, follow directions. Don’t put anything else in the bin with your laptop.
It’s inevitable, if you fly often enough with sex toys in your carry-on, that you’re going to be pulled aside. Rest assured: TSA agents have spent their entire careers looking at dildos and they don’t want to go out of their way just to humiliate you…over this, anyway. So if you get called over because there’s “something” in your bag, just keep your cool. Ideally, you’ll have your toys packed in clear ziplock bags; even with gloves, people aren’t thrilled about touching strange dildos and I’m certainly not thrilled about someone touching my toys after they’ve rifled through another passenger’s germ-ridden laptop or dirty sneakers. Pack them somewhere accessible; more and more people are cramming their carry-ons beyond capacity to avoid paying fees for checking bags, and if you’re flying with something commonly flagged for inspection, make it as easy to find as possible. It saves you time and it saves them time.
If you are especially concerned about discreetness, you can always ask the agent to inspect your bag behind a curtained area, in private. I’ve actually had them do this for me before, without asking, because more often than not, they know when something’s a dildo. They just have to be cautious.
Remember: if it’s going in your carry-on, your lubes and toy cleaners (and various other liquids, gels, creams, and pastes) have to be in containers that hold a maximum of 3.4 fluid ounces! If you have an 8oz bottle of lube that is 75% empty, do not put it in your carry-on. You may have the required amount of liquid, but the bottle will get you flagged. You can, however, squirt your lube into a handy-dandy travel sized container or just travel with sample sized packets. You’ll need to put these in a clear ziplock bag or a TSA-approved clear travel bag.
Are you worried about your vibrators going off in your luggage?
Easy fix: kill the batteries before you fly. Let your rechargeable wands and wangs die before you pack. It’s a minor inconvenience having to charge everything once you land, but the peace of mind is worth it. You don’t want to be the person with the buzzing suitcase. If you have any toys that take dry cell alkaline (typical AA, AAA, etc.) batteries, remove them; you can pack the batteries in your checked bag, but the TSA prefers you keep them in your carry-on whenever possible.
On my last flight home, I hastily tossed two steel buttplugs in one of the inner pockets of my suitcase before jumping in the car with my mother; I distinctly remember being serenaded by a clinking, not unlike that of wind chimes (but for your butthole), for the three hour trip to RDU. Don’t make that mistake! Take a moment to wrap or package your metal, glass, and other hard toys; it will save some anxiety over whether or not you’re accidentally damaging them, and also keep your luggage quiet.
Having witnessed the abuse most suitcases go through after they’re checked, I tend to pack my bags in such a way that my toys (and makeup, toiletries, and electronics) are cushioned between two layers of clothing. I put a deep layer of clothing down in the bottom of the suitcase, fit my other items on top of that, and then cover it with a smaller layer. If you’re traveling with full-sized bottles of lube and toy cleaners in your checked luggage, you will want to put them in plastic bags to prevent any spillage. I’ve experienced the joy of a bottle of toy cleaner breaking in my bag, and I can assure you, the last thing you want to do when you unpack your bags is rush to make sure all your stuff is safe.
In fact, it’s also a good idea to put all the toys you’re checking in plastic bags. In the event the TSA has to go through them (and you’ll know if they did because they leave you a note), you’ll have less cause to worry about cross-contamination; but you’ll probably want to wash your toys again before you use them. Some people label their bags (“GIANT DRAGON FUCKSTICK FOR PERSONAL PLEASURE”) or leave notes; if that eases your mind, go for it.
When it comes down to which toys should be checked versus which you can take in your carry-on, use your discretion. The TSA broadly says that adult toys are acceptable, but one person’s marital aid is another person’s weapon. Be realistic: if you could put a hurtin’ on someone with your toy, err on the side of caution and check it. If it’s ridiculously expensive or close to your heart and you’d feel a major loss if it was confiscated: check it. The TSA has their own get of jail free clause: they say that “even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to be tampered with, or poses other security concerns.” Meaning that you may cross the threshold with your Hitachi Magic Wand ninety-nine times before someone says “hmm, this looks like it could be used to overpower a pilot.”
In the end, I want you to be able to tolerate flying and how to interact with the TSA as a cammodel. Of all the things that could give you anxiety about sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours in a tin can that smells of farts, feet and alcohol sweat, getting through a TSA checkpoint should be the least of your concerns! So stock up on ziplock bags and start screaming into the heart of the world: “oh, that? That’s my VIBRATOR!”