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How to travel with your sex toys

Ethan Imboden is the founder of Jimmyjane, one of our favorite sex toy companies — their products are sleek and stylish and feel as good as they look. Ethan has also occasionally had his bags searched by TSA agents when flying, so we asked him to share some tips about traveling with your bedside accessories… just in case your final destination doesn’t have a little sex shop on the corner.

Have you heard any horror stories about people who’ve had run-ins with security over their sex toys?

I do hear a lot of stories, but to be honest, none of them seem particularly horrific! Perhaps traveling with vibrators so frequently has cured me of any embarrassment. The worst stories have less to do with mean TSA agents and more to do with the witnesses — parents being questioned in front of their children, women being questioned in front of their unsuspecting husbands, me being searched in front of a really hot stranger I was chatting up in line.

Take comfort in the fact that these guys have seen it all. If the TSA agent shakes their head as you pass through, it might simply be to express their disappointment that you’re only bringing one vibrator, whereas you’ve packed 7 pairs of shoes.

We had always assumed that your best bet was to put all sex toys in checked luggage, but it seems like that’s not necessarily the case. Will security really remove/destroy toys from your checked luggage? And is there anything you can do to prevent that happening?

When security personnel remove a vibrator, it’s typically because they don’t know what it is and are erring on the side of caution. So it’s a good idea to pack your vibrator in such a way that it’s easily identifiable. If you still have your product packaging, you can pack it in that. You can also seal your vibrator in a bag with a note identifying it. That said, if you have an expensive vibrator, I would advise against checking it through. Anytime you check anything valuable, whether it’s a diamond necklace or a Little Gold, you run the risk of having it stolen out of your bag.

What advice do you have for when your carry-on bag is searched? For example, if a security officer asks you what something is, what’s the least embarrassing answer?

“That’s my vibrator.” As boring as it sounds, the best answer is an honest one. While lying may seem like an easy way out, it can land you in hot water, and lead to even more embarrassing questions. If you’re nervous about answering questions, you can always ask that your bag be searched in private.

What kind of toys shouldn’t be put in carry-on luggage? Handcuffs, obviously! Anything else?

Handcuffs, riding crops, and anything that can be misconstrued as a weapon is likely to be removed during a security screening of both carry-on and check luggage. As for vibrators, there isn’t a “wrong” choice, though there are considerations that can make it easier to avoid a hassle. Smaller and/or discreet vibrators (i.e. not a Rabbit vibrator in glitter pink with a flame job) won’t be as embarrassing if they get pulled out of your bag. I think a good rule of thumb is to travel light.

We’ve always advised readers to go with discreet toys for their carry-on… but now we’re thinking, is it less suspicious to security if the item actually looks like a sex toy? Whereas, a vibrating lipstick tube, for example, might be considered suspicious?

Great question! When I say “discreet,” I am referring to vibrators that are simple and small, and designs that aren’t outrageous. If a lipstick tube starts vibrating when a TSA agent handles it, it’s not likely that they’ll jump to the conclusion that it’s a bomb — but it may cause them to ask you some questions! While it’s hard to know which vibrators your particular TSA agent is familiar with, you can be reasonably sure they’ve seen a lot of bullet, pocket and smoothie vibrators in their time, so they’ll know one when they see it.

What toys do you recommend for travel? Both for carry-on and for checked luggage?

Little Something offers the ultimate in discretion — if 007 were to travel with a vibrator in his carry-on, I think it’s the one he’d choose. If you remove its replaceable motor, it’s no longer identifiable as a vibrator. A cigar tube, maybe.

Our Iconic Bullet is also a great choice, as it’s very small and easy to tuck away. For checked luggage, I highly recommend our Form 2 or Form 6 vibrators. They have a lock feature so they won’t switch on during transit, and Form 6 even comes with a travel case. They’re rechargeable, so you don’t even need to bring extra batteries, just the charging dock.

Tell us about the Travel Lock feature on some of your toys.

Form 2 can be locked and unlocked using a button sequence, and Form 6 comes with a carrying case and convenient button lock — the buttons must be pressed for a solid two seconds when off to activate it. Neither will accidentally turn on, even when your luggage is being manhandled. We want you to arrive with your companion fully charged and ready to go.

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photo by zieak