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What Can You Travel With in Your Carry-On Luggage?


Elyse Welles was traveling from Athens to Newark this spring when it finally happened: She was pulled aside for a further security screening at her gate.

After a while looking through Ms. Welles’s backpack, the agent eventually grabbed a bullet-shaped vibrator from the bag and brandished it within the air. “Is that this an e-cigarette?” the agent asked. “No, it’s a sex toy,” she responded with a smile, at which point her personal items were promptly returned to her and he or she was free to go.

Ms. Welles, a author and life coach who lives in Artemida, Greece, said she didn’t give a second thought to traveling along with her vibrator in tow.

Because the variety of air travelers rises, returning to near-prepandemic levels, so do questions on flying protocols and rules — particularly what travelers can and can’t absorb their carry-on luggage when flying inside america. As an illustration: Is guacamole a solid or a liquid? (It’s a gel, which falls under the identical restrictions as liquids and will not be allowed in your carry-on — unless it’s inside a 3.4-ounce container.)

Here’s a guide to allow you to navigate the more ambiguous carry-on rules — with some quiz questions throughout to check your knowledge, too.

Let’s talk just a little more about vibrators. Although most sex toys, including vibrators, are allowed in your carry-on, in keeping with the Transportation Security Administration, they could still result in a stop, as in Ms. Welles’s case. There are some ways to cut back the probabilities of those uncomfortable encounters, especially if something starts buzzing.

Shan Boodram, an intimacy expert and the host of the podcast Lovers and Friends, suggests removing any batteries or running batteries of rechargeable toys out before packing them. “Or, discover a hard case to place it in that’s barely larger so the ability button has less of a probability of being pressed when pressure is applied to your bag,” she said.

There are also vibrators with built-in travel settings now, to forestall them from going off at an inopportune moment, just like the Surge silicone rechargeable vibrator, which has a built-in travel lock.

“Essentially the most common mistake that we see people making by way of prohibited items at airports are large liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags,” said Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the T.S.A.

T.S.A.’s widely publicized 3-1-1 rule dictates that passengers may travel with liquids, gels and aerosols so long as they’re in 3.4-ounce containers in a single quart-size resealable bag. So while a bottle of water won’t make it through a preflight screening, what about something in a more nebulous category, like a jar of peanut butter?

“In case you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it,” Ms. Farbstein said, “it’s a liquid, gel or aerosol.”

For this reason a Magic 8 Ball, which is crammed with liquid, will not be allowed through a T.S.A. checkpoint. The identical goes for a snow globe. Unless, after all, as Ms. Farbstein points out, either is a version that’s sufficiently small to suit inside a traveler’s 3-1-1 bag.

“T.S.A. will not be searching for drugs,” Ms. Farbstein said. “Our dogs sniff for explosives; they don’t sniff for drugs.”

But simply because they’re not searching for drugs doesn’t mean agents never find them. In the event that they do, T.S.A. officers are required to report suspected violations of law to the police, Ms. Farbstein said. And while marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in 19 states and for medical use in 37, it’s still illegal under federal law and is thus restricted on airplanes, even whether it is technically legal in each the departure and destination states.

Some plant lovers will want to fly home with a recent addition for his or her collection.

Plants are allowed on domestic flights so long as they fit within the overhead bin or underneath the airplane seat, in keeping with the T.S.A. website. Returning with potted plants from abroad, nevertheless, is prohibited, though a limited variety of bare-root plants (not in soil) are allowed, so long as they meet certain criteria set by the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. There’s also additional information for travelers arriving to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I at all times have my eye out for beautiful, healthy specimens of rare plants, so I wish to snag them once I see them,” said Lexi Osterhoudt, a Ph.D. student in Columbia University’s Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Studies. Oftentimes, she said, her plant souvenirs are impulse buys she picks up while traveling domestically, or they’re good finds which can be more cost-effective than they might be if she bought them in Recent York, where she currently lives.

“I’ll Saran-wrap the pot to maintain the soil together, put them in a paper bag and stick them under the seat in front of me,” she said.

If any more clarification is required, the T.S.A. has provided an extensive and searchable list where travelers can look up whichever items they’re concerned about bringing. Knitting needles, for instance, are allowed in your carry-on, as are live fish, provided they’re in water and a transparent transparent container. But wait — isn’t there a liquids rule?

“Live fish are indeed allowed to be transported through a security checkpoint,” Ms. Farbstein said. “And after all to maintain them alive, they should be in water. T.S.A. officers will screen the container of water that the fish are contained in. It’ll take additional time for the screening process. Live fish in water don’t need to satisfy the 3-1-1 rule.”

Cremated human stays get just a little more complicated, while cricket bats and cutting boards are best left in checked luggage. Musical instruments like violins are allowed after they undergo a T.S.A. screening, but for brass instruments, the suggestion is to examine them. And if you happen to’re a Harry Potter fan, fear not — wands are allowed on flights.

Despite the T.S.A.’s rules, there’s one item specifically that Ms. Farbstein said she still sees confiscated far too often: knives. “We see knives daily,” she said.

As many as 4 tons of various sorts of knives and huge tools get confiscated at Newark Liberty International Airport in a median yr, in keeping with Ms. Farbstein. The T.S.A. then sends them off in bulk to the State of Pennsylvania, she said, which sells them for profit at a surplus store in Harrisburg.

Travelers should keep in mind that knives of all types aren’t allowed on flights, said Ms. Farbstein.

Something that won’t get confiscated? A duffel bag holding eight rolls of Goetta sausage. Nonetheless, it’d land you on the T.S.A.’s Instagram account.

Quiz photographs by Tony Cenicola.

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