Getting a tattoo is a lot more than a ‘spur of the moment’ decision - it’s a lifelong commitment and a constant reminder that you have ink on your skin. Even for me, who got a tattoo 2 years ago, I planned for 4 years what design I wanted and had time to think it over and make sure that I wanted this on my skin. Even to this day I’m still pleased that I took the time to find a design I wanted, decide for ages whether I wanted it and from there find a reputable and safe tattoo parlour to get it done with.
While abroad, most people celebrate being free from daily stresses and experiencing new cultures as well as experiences. Most people want to capture their travels in something memorable, which is completely understandable. I’d settle for photographs and items that I can treasure and keep forever whereas some people prefer getting tattoos - either way, the choice is up to the individual but there are some pros and cons to getting a tattoo abroad.
Do You Really Like The Idea Of A Tattoo?
A tattoo, a beautiful piece of art, which shall remain on your body for the rest of your life. Well unless you get it removed, but that destroys the idea of how beautiful tattoos are. Either way, as mentioned before, for some people the idea of a tattoo can become a reality in the spur of the moment - which might look incredible for the rest of your travels but will you like it when you return home? If you’ve decided there and then you want a tattoo then I’d spent time reconsidering, especially if you’ve had a drink or two especially since many things can go wrong if you drink and decide to get a tattoo done. Even though most parlours should refuse clients who have been drinking for numerous reasons some class money as a more important factor. If you do want to go abroad and get a tattoo done, get an image of it and place it on your body - Will it look good in a months time? Will you be happy having this on your body for the rest of your life? If you immediately cannot say yes to either of these questions, then it’s time to reconsider.
Where Are You Going To Get It Done?
One of the things I would advise against with all of my might is do not get a tattoo on a whim and walk into the first tattoo parlour you see. If you’re walking past a few tattoo parlours that catch your eye then note the name of them down - once you get back to your accommodation do your research into the parlour itself. Make sure they are licensed to tattoo clients and from there make sure they meet safety requirements - if possible, go into the shop and see whether it’s clean. A license should be prominently displayed as well as the parlour itself smelling and seeming clean - it should resemble the smell of a hospital. If you do your research and even have one doubt in your mind - avoid the parlour at all costs. Even if you really want a tattoo while on holiday - you could always get it done back in your home country and no one would really know the difference.
One quote that sticks with me is: "Good tattoos aren't cheap, and cheap tattoos aren't good." A very wise reminder for those being offered cheap tattoos - if you’re given a quote of $20 for a few words on your arm then simply walk away. Not only is this a price that will leave you regretting your decision but may also impact your health - you could get a lovely tattoo but follow up with an infection afterwards. I paid £50 for a tattoo that reads “lust for life” which admittedly is more expensive than the average tattoo but the parlour was highly rated, it was very clean and the needle used was sterile. Additionally, the parlour gave me information regarding aftercare and if I needed a touch up they would be happy to do it for free in the future.
Are You Comfortable Travelling With A New Tattoo?
As much as having a new tattoo is exciting and you cannot wait to share images of it all across social media and send it to your friends and family, once again safety comes first. After getting a tattoo, you should follow the instructions from the parlour regarding how to look after it throughout the first week - it will begin to scab and fall off which is never pretty. You need to keep tattoos clean - which means you cannot put it in direct sunlight and must keep it protected from seawater, even water from a swimming pool should be avoided. If you’ve gone to a hot country then I would advise against getting a large tattoo - keeping it covered might be a problem. Regardless, you’ll need to keep the area clean to prevent infections and allow the tattoo to heal in its own time. That also means that you cannot pick it or pull of the scabs, that’s why loose clothing is advised rather than tight clothing that could accidentally peel off scabs.
Will There Be The Problem Of A Language Barrier?
If you have your heart set on a tattoo that has words included within it - make sure that you bring an image with you and you have clear communication with the tattoo artist. I’m sure we’ve all seen the tattoo “NO RAGRETS” - to which I’m sure it’s one regret they’ll have when they have to live with it for the rest of their life. If you go to a parlour where your language isn’t their first then reconsider your plans - a lot could go wrong. Initially the tattoo artist could spell words wrong or even worse give you a tattoo that you never agreed on but are now stuck with. Then there’s the form of payment - you may scammed out of even more money if the tattoo artist knows you cannot speak the same language as them - they may take advantage of this especially if you haven’t got to grips with the local currency.
What Happens If You Need To Go Back?
Unfortunately there are some instances where you may not be entirely happy with your tattoo or you may need a small touch up. How could you possibly get back to this tattoo parlour if you’re 2000 miles away? This is my main reason against ever getting a tattoo in another country for this reason exactly. The tattoo parlour could mysteriously close down for reasons including operating under unhygienic conditions or as they’ve gone bankrupt. Then there’s no place to complain too and even get a resolution from. However, if you’ve done your research and spoke to the artist and you’re more than trusting in their work then go ahead - just make sure that you note down the aftercare instructions and any contact information.
Getting Your Tattoo
If you’ve read all of the above tips, done your research into the parlour and are happy to go ahead and get a tattoo, here are a few final tips:
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.