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.
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.