For some, holiday travel is a nightmare of logistical snarls and social minefields that leaves them stressed out and desperate for a little release. It's an escape from the grind of the rest of the year for some, which may give them a little boost in libido. Sex toys can offer some assistance. They are referred to as a "lifeline to sanity" over the festive season, or as "extra holiday spice" for solo or partner sex.
The prospect of taking a toy on a flight can feel daunting at the best of times, thanks to popular horror stories about airport security agents pulling them out in front of a crowd during a search, or when a sex toy goes off inside a bag. Staying with family or friends over the holidays can add an extra layer of concern about discretion: What if someone you don't want to know about your private life finds your favorite toy in a shared space, or hears you using it?
These concerns are valid. If you keep a few basic tips and tricks in mind, they are all easy to mitigate or avoid. We've compiled all of their advice into a guide to holiday travel with toys.
There are toys and agents.
The good news is that all kinds of sex toys are allowed in carry-on and checked bags. Most nations are also permissive. Sex toys are illegal in a few countries. Always check local laws before you travel.
If a security official thinks you could use a toy as a weapon, they won't let you take it onboard in a carry-on bag.
It's difficult to say what kind of toys will cause this kind of scrutiny. A big dildo made of metal might make it through one security screening without issue, but get flagged as a potentially dangerous cudgel on another. Carol Queen, staff sexologist of the toy retail chain Good Vibrations, says that the perception and discretion of individual TSA agents is the main reason for this. She and others have found that security's danger senses tend to trip more often when wearing BDSM gear. "Especially solid ones like wooden bats or high density plastic paddles could ring bells for a screener," says Queen.
Queen and others advise to check any toys that you are worried an untrained eye could see as a weapon, or to ship them ahead.
Even if you don't pack anything that looks dangerous in your carry-on, you could still get stopped and screened in airport security even if you don't. Queen says that if screeners see something they don't recognize in your luggage, they may want to inspect it. "If your toy has batteries in it or has switched itself on and is vibrating, they'll probably want to figure out what it is."
"If it is in your carry-on, they might hold it up in front of a very crowded room full of people going through security," Queen says.
A friend of Amy's had to deal with a bomb squad after their magic wand went off in their luggage.
Sex therapist Dulcinea Pitagora recommends checking all of your sex toys just to be safe if you ever want to see them in public. "Checked bags can still get searched, but at least in that case there wouldn't be a public aspect to the search," she said.
Checked bags can get lost. Travelers sometimes report missing toys from checked bags. "If a sex toy is lost in a checked luggage, it would be very sad!" said a sexologist who works with the major toy retail chain Adam & Eve.
If you can't check a bag or don't want to risk a loss, experts suggest packing a small, discreet toy that could pass for something else to avoid embarrassment during a public search. Sex therapist Sari Cooper says that there are small vibrators that look like lipstick cases that can be tucked into your makeup bag, as well as vibrators created to be worn as beautiful necklace pendants that can be packed with your jewelry. Small items can be used to free up luggage space and keep your carry-on lightweight.
People who don't give two figs about people seeing their sex toys in public and pack explicitly erotic items do sometimes get hassled by sex-negative airport staff. Queen suggests that if you get slut-shamed, you should take people's names and badges, get on your flight, and report them later.
If you pack your sexual paraphernalia in a carry-on bag, remember that it is subject to the rules of the airport. There are travel-sized lube bottles. If you're worried about people seeing that you've packed lube during a public check, Marie suggests you use a travel container.
Kim Airs, a sex educator and toy seller, says that when she travels with masturbation sleeves made of TPR or TPE materials, they sometimes show up on the X-rays as large bags of water. You may need to check those toys or leave them behind.
Regardless of whether or not you check your toys, the experts at Mashable said that if your toy uses batteries, you should take them out to avoid accidental activation that could lead to a security scare, or just overheating in your bag. You need to check your carrier's regulations if you want to pack batteries in a certain way. If you use an electric toy that does not have a battery, you should run it's charge down before you travel. Don't forget your battery! Travel lock features are included in some modern, high-tech toys that allow you to skip this process and travel without fear of a buzzing disaster.
If you put your toys in a clear plastic bag, they'll be visible but sanitary if security personnel take them out of a checked or carry-on bag for a quick exam. They said to label your toys so that security officials know what they're looking at. Sex toys and tools that look more abstract than your classic dildo or bullet can be especially helpful.
Julia Lopez of the sex toy brand Dame says that it may be useful to pack some of that as well. The box that the TSA rarely opens has print on it. A product description and image next to a Ziplock bag will likely allay any concerns or confusion that an agent might have about a given item.
If your toy is delicate, like a porcelain or glass toy, make sure you pack it in a secure travel container. Wrap it in clothes. You don't want it to break in transit.
Home for the holidays.
Pitagora says that some people might not have issues with others knowing they use sex toys. Others might prefer to keep that part of their life out of the public eye. Privacy may be hard to come by when you share a house with friends or family.
If you're worried about people hearing you using a toy in a packed house, you can always use a toy that doesn't make any noise, like an analog dildo, and muffle your own vocalizations. Many people prefer toys with a motor.
Companies make toys with quiet settings. If you don't already own one of these, sex therapistRosara Torrisi cautions against buying a new one just for travel. She says it would be disappointing to get to your destination, whip out your new toy, and find that you're not as in love with it as you'd hoped. "Get sad music."
She suggests that you check the volume of your toys by turning them on, then going into another room and closing the door. If you can hear it buzzing, put it under the covers, put a rolled towel by the door, or put it in the bathroom to see if that will make a difference. Privacy in a shared space can be achieved with the use of the bathroom and showers. If you use a toy in the shower, make sure it notes that it's fully waterproof. Many people feel awkward and self-conscious because of this.
You will have less control over the space you're staying in, and fewer storage options, than you would at home, so storing your toysDiscreetly may be tricky. If you just keep your toys in your luggage, wrapped in clothes or stashed in a toiletry bag, you should be able to keep your private items out of sight. Boyajian argues that most people travel with a toiletry bag, and their hosts won't think twice about seeing it in the open.
Presumptive relatives could look through your bags and belongings. Cooper notes that young kids may get curious and grab by, and that you may bring your dildo into the living room where your family is hanging out.
Queen says that you can find a few slim and lightweight storage boxes with locks on them if you're concerned about discretion and security. Boyajian cautions that the lock boxes can eat up space, and may actually " catch the eyes of intrusive folks" themselves. If you pack a toy that doesn't look like a toy, you may invite questions from people you don't want to talk to. When choosing an ideal low-key storage approach, you'll need to consider pros and cons against your concerns.
If you try to keep your toy out of view from others, you may not be able to plug it in for a refill. If you bring a battery-powered toy and spare batteries, you can avoid potential charging issues. Johanna Rief of the toy brands Womanizer and We-Vibe says that you could invest in a portable charging block, which you can use in private spaces. You can say it's for your laptop if you charge it in public.
If you don't want to tote your toy around a shared space, and you don't want to use it in the bathroom, then you may need to find a way to clean it. She recommends investing in a small packet of baby wipes that are easy to throw in the trash.
Match and mix.
A number of companies make travel-friendly products, which work well with most or all of the advice. It's worth keeping in mind that a travel-perfect toy may not be perfect for your body, or your sexual wants and needs at any given moment. If that is the case, buy the toy that is right for you. You can mix and match bits and pieces of advice from this guide and your own commonsense to work with your own toy, travel concerns, and wider circumstances.
It's a personal care item and you should say it while looking at the person.
Carol Queen of Good Vibrations.
Even if you buy a perfectly discreet toy and follow all of the advice in this guide to a tee, there's still a chance that a family member or security official will ask you questions about it. Queen believes that if someone travels with toys, they should speak up about them. It's a personal care item and you should say it while looking at the person. Because there isn't!