Seriously. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong; from emergency landings because a bird hit the plane, to missing bags, to somehow ending up with five (???) seats on the flight, to booking tickets going in the wrong direction by mistake, to…you get the point.
When I travel, my friends know to expect A Story to come out of it.
Despite my best efforts when traveling, I am either visibly trans or read as female…until they see my ID. And this summer I added “visibly disabled while traveling” to my list.
And since I travel almost exclusively for work, I add a bag full of kink and sex toys to the mix.
So. How do I mitigate my risks while traveling – both my personal risks and that of my toy box?
When I’m able, I check a bag and put as much of my kink gear in there as possible, especially if it’s metal, sharp, or used to hurt people. If I’m traveling with anything with removable batteries, I take them out first (but make sure to have them with me if the item is in my carry-on, as I may have to turn the item on to prove what it is).
This typically adds an extra expense to an already expensive trip, which may not be accessible to people. If you’re unable to check bags, then what?
When I’m bringing things in my carry on, I put them up at the very top, all together (anything silicone is going to set off the same sensor as their “food stuff” sensor. If they ask if you’re traveling with any food, they’re talking about your dicks but just haven’t found them yet). Make it as easy as possible for the agents to find whatever it is that’s setting off the sensor, as the harder they have to look, the more frustrated they’ll be when they eventually find it.
Shy, Worried, or Embarrassed?
Keep in mind that border agents deal with sex toys all the time. Yours are not the first, nor the last (possibly not even that day). But it’s normal to feel uncomfortable or unsafe answering these questions regardless. Unfortunately, being direct is often 1 the best approach, especially for marginalized folks, as we’re already at higher risk of additional screening, discrimination, and rejection from our flights. If the agent doesn’t feel as though you’re lying to or manipulating them, they are frequently more willing to let you by.
When asked about the “knives”, I thought they were talking about my metal claws, but it was my sounding kit. Had I realized what it was, I could have told the truth; “it’s a sound kit!”, but they wouldn’t have known what that meant and then I wouldn’t had to get into “well, those go up the urethra of a penis or a vagina for sexual pleasure”. Which even I wouldn’t want to say in that moment. However, simply saying “it’s a sex toy”/”an adult product”/etc gets the message across without outing yourself as a kinkster.
The more evasive that you are about telling them what’s in the bag, the more suspicious they’ll be, making them less likely to let you cross while keeping the items that are close to the limit of what is or isn’t allowed in a carry-on, like safety scissors.
Technically, you are allowed to travel with regulation safety scissors, but they are right on the cusp of being too long to have in your carry-on, though just short enough. That said, they are often confiscated if the border agent is in a bad mood or doesn’t like you for whatever reason. For an extra precaution, keep your scissors with your rope!
The next time you go shopping, thinking that you may try some new bondage toys, give a quick thought to if and how you’re going to take it with you on a flight! Is it appropriate for travel, or would it be better to grab something else instead? Think about how long the toy is, or how boxy, and consider how it will fit (if it does) in your luggage. Hopefully you won’t fall in love with something that you’re unable to take with you when you travel.
- Though not always, please do whatever feels safest for you in that moment! ↩