Can I take my vibrator without causing a scene at security?

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Traveling with sex toys

Traveling by air with sex toys, lubricants and other essentials can create an uncomfortable encounter at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Knowing what is allowed and what is restricted can help minimize embarrassing moments and delays.

In 2018, a terminal of Berlin's Schönefeld airport was thrown into chaos after airport security discovered a suspicious "device" in a passenger's bag.

The routine x-ray check of a carry-on luggage raised suspicions over a mystery device, causing the busy German terminal to be evacuated. Writing on social media the traveler described their embarrassment:

"When I arrived, the terminal was being evacuated. I approached a police officer and told him that I needed to check my bag with the baggage handlers. He asked my name and for my passport. He then spoke into his radio and several armed police swarmed me with automatic weapons."

The suspect device was not, as security feared, a “humming” explosive but a vibrator. By the time the confusion was resolved, the terminal had been closed for about an hour, causing flight delays and missed connections.

So what's the deal with vibrators?

Although most sex toys, including vibrators, are allowed in your carry-on, according to the TSA, they may still lead to a stop, depending on how they appear on x-ray or, as with the Berlin incident, when they happen to be activated.

Most TSA personnel will knowingly waive through small “electronics” when spotted on their view screens. To keep the encounter as brief as possible we suggest removing any batteries before packing your vibrator. For rechargeable vibes, use a case that’s slightly larger so the power button has less of a chance of being pressed when pressure is applied to your bag. Some vibrators have a travel setting or lock to prevent them from going off at an inopportune moment.

What’s the liquid rule again?

According to TSA, the most common mistake that people make in terms of prohibited items at airports is packing large liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags.

In 2006, terrorists in Britain attempted to sneak liquid explosives onto planes. As a result, TSA imposes the 3-1-1 rule:

Carry-On Bag
Passengers may travel with liquids, gels and aerosols as long as they are in a 3.4-ounce container in a quart-size resealable bag. Common travel items that must comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash and lotion.

A quart-size bag is approximately 7” x 8”. TSA prefers it to be made of clear plastic so the items can be easily inspected at a glance, without having to open the bag.

Checked Bag
Containers that are larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml) regardless of amount inside must be in checked baggage.

Quart-sized bags

In a pinch, a sandwich bag can be used. Keep in mind these bags are thin and made for storing snacks and other lighter items. They may not stay sealed especially with heavier items and repeated use.

What about something in a more nebulous category, like a bottle of edible sexual lubricant?

TSA approved bags

The rule of thumb is if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, it should fit inside a traveler’s 3-1-1 bag.

 

Magic 8 Ball is not allowedA Magic 8 Ball contains enough liquid that it is not allowed beyond a TSA checkpoint.

Visit the TSA website for more traveling tips.


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