Road Ink

These are my tips to the world traveler looking to get a travel tattoo while on a trip:

  1. Know what you want before you go. Unless you’re hanging out in a foreign country for a month, it’s good to have a plan, so you’re not changing your mind at the last minute and risking regretful decisions.
  2. Choose a design that will be doable in the time that you have. Some tattooists are willing to sit for an eight hour session to finish a large piece all at once, but are you?
  3. Research the shops and artists in the area you’re visiting. Make sure it’s a reputable shop with good standards of hygiene. Choose an artist that has the style to suit your needs. It’s no good to walk in and try to get a traditional tattooist to do a fine line realistic piece. Some of them won’t even have the proper needle size to do it.
  4. Contact the shop or artist for an appointment. You want to make sure your chosen artist will be available to work on you during your stay or you may leave the country disappointed. This is especially true if it’s a more complicated idea that needs to be drawn out beforehand. A quote or small logo is easy for a walk-in, but it will be harder to find an artist who’s available to design a large piece in a short time frame.
  5. If possible, book your appointment during the last couple days of your trip. There’s nothing worse than exploring a new place with an open wound. Sitting on a plane for eight hours with a fresh tattoo doesn’t feel too good either, but at least you’re keeping still and not rubbing against it for the whole day, which isn’t good for you, or the tattoo.
  6. Give yourself the day off. Unless it’s a small piece on your arm or something similar, I wouldn’t plan for a lengthy tour before or after your appointment. You don’t want to be late or miss the appointment entirely, because you may not get another chance before the end of your trip. And afterwards, you don’t want to be walking around for hours with a swollen and sore body part. Plan for a nice sit-down dinner and rest.
  7. Voice your design and tattoo needs. It may not be your usual tattoo artist, but they still care about producing a quality design on a satisfied client. Don’t be afraid to tell them to change the design or size or placement to your liking. If there is a language barrier, find a way to communicate. Find someone who speaks your language in the shop or use a translator on your smartphone.
  8. Get to know your tattoo artist. If your tattoo artist doesn’t require complete silence to focus on the piece, usually after most of the outline has been completed, have a chat. This is your opportunity to become familiar with the culture of your surroundings from a local.
  9. Bring aftercare essentials with you. Don’t forget to pack your tattoo ointments or lotions, bandages, saran wrap, tape, or anything else you use to help protect and properly care for your new tattoo.
  10. Enjoy the experience. You’ve just acquired a unique and permanent souvenir from your trip, and an adventurous story to go with it. Feel as cool as you are for doing it!