A Guide To Getting Tattooed Abroad: What You Need To Know Before, During And After.
Getting a tattoo abroad is an exciting and liberating experience, but it can also be daunting. This blog post will walk you through the process of getting tattooed abroad to avoid any surprises and help you make the most of your trip.
Having had four tattoos abroad and making a couple of major mistakes while doing so, I wanted to share everything I’ve learned in the process. While it may seem overwhelming, it can be a rewarding experience when you end up with both a beautiful tattoo and a permanent souvenir.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting Tattooed On Holiday
First things first: before you go, there are some important questions that need answering. Where will I do my research? How do I know if I’m going to get good work done? What happens if something goes wrong during the procedure or aftercare? And how much does this all cost with travel insurance included? We’ll answer these questions and more in order to arm you with everything you need for a successful permanent souvenir.
Choosing The Right Studio For You
Choosing a tattoo studio is one of the most important steps in getting tattooed abroad. Do some research online and read reviews to get an idea of what studios are out there. Some general things to look for include good hygiene practices (including using disposable needles and gloves), a clean environment, qualified artists with plenty of experience, and reasonable prices.
You can often find out more about a studio by visiting their website or Facebook page, as well as checking for reviews to see if there are any major warning signs left by people who have previously visited the studio.
One important thing to remember is that you should never get tattooed in a studio that does not have at least one person that speaks your language – communication during the procedure will be difficult enough as it is, and this could make things go wrong if a problem arises. So unless you know them really well, it might be best to avoid studios with no international staff.
Red Flags To Look Out For When Choosing A Tattoo Studio Abroad:
There are A LOT of red flags to look out for when choosing a studio, especially when some studios take advantage of the fact they’re located close to a tourist trap.
🚩If the studio is too busy to take you on as a client, this could be a sign that they are not professional and may not have the necessary experience or equipment.
🚩If the studio does not have any pictures of their work online or if their portfolio is very small, it might be worth considering looking for another artist.
🚩If the studio uses flash art (mass-produced designs with no originality) or copycat images, this is a clear sign that they have zero respect for their clients.
🚩Be very cautious if you’re asked to pay upfront and in full before having any ink applied because it’s likely that there are red flags present such as poor hygiene levels and a lack of professionalism.
🚩Always ask to see the studio’s autoclave, this is an important sterilization tool that could be used in any sterile medical setting such as tattoo studios, dental or veterinary offices. If they do not have one because it is too expensive for them, you might want to consider looking somewhere else.
🚩Ask to see the artist’s portfolio and check for licensing and insurance. The latter is especially important if you’re getting a large or intricate piece done as it will protect you in case of any medical complications that might arise from the tattooing process.
🚩If you’re still unsure, try to find a studio that has been recommended to you by someone you trust. Word of mouth is often the best form of trust.
One of my biggest mistakes when it comes to getting tattooed was asking for a tattoo on an area that just days before, had been the site of an allergic reaction to a bug bite. To me, it didn’t look swollen anymore and so I presumed it would be okay. The tattoo artist agreed and told me it’s okay to tattoo over swollen skin so even if it is still swollen, it’s fine. Knowing how hard it was to get an appointment, I trusted them and let them get on with it.
Not only was it my most painful tattoo EVER, but as soon as my skin healed and was no longer swollen, the tattoo shrunk in size and fused together. It’s no longer clear what it is and honestly, it was a huge waste of money. I shouldn’t have trusted the tattoo artists and I should have been a little more prepared when it came to where you can and cannot tattoo. It’s a lesson learned and something I will certainly be warier of when visiting tattoo studios in tourist areas.
If you are having doubts and are starting to see red flags, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, after all, this is a big decision! Find out about the artist’s experience, how they sterilize their equipment, what kind of ink they use and whether or not they have had any complaints filed against them.
Decide On What Tattoo Design You Would Like
The next step is deciding on the design of your tattoo. This can be a difficult process, as you want to make sure that you’re happy with the final result – after all, it will be with you for life!
Start by sketching out some ideas, and doing some research into what kind of design would work best for you. Make sure that the tattoo artist is happy with your ideas, as this will make things much easier when it comes to the actual process – they’ll know exactly how big to make each part of the ink.
Top Tip: Do not get up a picture of someone else’s on your phone and ask for the exact same tattoo. If your artist agrees to this, it’s likely they do not care about the people they are tattooing.
You can visit this post here for 104 travel tattoo ideas that your tattoo artist can draw inspiration from!
Things To Consider Before You Get Inked
When actually getting inked, there are a few things that you should keep in mind to make the process as smooth and easy as possible. First of all, ask your artist how long they have been practising – a tattoo is permanent after all, so it’s best not to take chances with an inexperienced practitioner! Make sure that there are sterilized tools used, and if at any point you feel uncomfortable, let your artist know! It’s their job to make you feel as comfortable and protected in the process.
Don’t forget to also check their COVID-19 procedures, as you want to make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep you protected during the pandemic.
During Your Tattoo Appointment
Before you get started, make sure your artist is taking all the right precautions. If you’re unsure what these are and what you should be looking out for, you can check out this guide here.
Make sure you have something to eat before your appointment and take a bottle of water with you. You’ll also want to bring a small bag with your essentials – phone, money and anything else you may need.
During tattooing, it’s also very important not to touch or scratch the area where you just got inked – this can carry bacteria and cause infections, so avoid touching as much as possible! This goes double if you have an open wound on another part of your body – keep that area clean and bandaged to avoid any cross-contamination.
Once the design has been finalised and you’re both happy with it, the artist will begin tracing the outline of the tattoo onto your skin using a transfer pen or stencil. They will then begin to fill in the colour.
The whole process usually takes between two and four hours, depending on the size and complexity of the design. If you’re travelling and only have a short amount of time, you may want to factor in how long it’s going to take into your schedule.
If you’re worried about pain, take a couple of pain killers beforehand. You can also ask for numbing cream or gel to be applied.
Tattoo Aftercare (Even In Hot Countries)
Once the tattoo is finished, you’ll need to take care of it properly in order to ensure a speedy and healthy healing process.
This generally includes keeping the area clean (no swimming or soaking for at least two weeks), applying a thin layer of ointment to the tattooed area regularly, and avoiding sun exposure. If you’re planning an activity that requires swimming or soaking, make sure you’re planning this before you get your tattoo.
In some cases, you may also be advised to take antibiotics to prevent infection. Make sure you’ve got travel insurance in place, too – it’s a good idea to cover yourself for any medical issues that arise unexpectedly.
Travel Insurance Tip: Use Safety Wing for travel insurance you can trust.
If you’re getting tattooed in a warm or hot country, afterwards you need to take extra care to keep your tattoo both clean and dry. Use a high-factor sunscreen on the area, drink plenty of fluids (especially water) and avoid sunbathing or swimming until the tattoo is fully healed. If you’re struggling to stay hydrated, consider using dehydration sachets for that extra boost!
What To Do After A New Tattoo For The First Week Or So:
After a new tattoo for the first week or so after getting your ink done, you should take extra care of yourself and try to avoid infection, so here are some tips to help you out.
In the first few days, your tattoo will be sore and red and inflamed. You should try not to put any pressure on it for at least a day or two. Even though you’re going to want to show off your new ink, try not to touch it too much in these early days.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to lift up their bandages or clothing and check out how it looks underneath, but this could be a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful! If your tattoo has scabbed over in places then there’s no way that you can properly clean those areas without actually picking off the scabs – which is a very bad idea.
How To Protect A New Tattoo On A Flight
To protect your new tattoo on your flight home, you need to be sure to pack some sterile adhesive bandages too. These will help to keep the area clean and protected from bacteria and other contaminants in the air. If you’re not using bandages, make sure you’re regularly applying ointment to your tattoo. The air on a flight can dry out your skin and with a fresh tattoo, this could slow down the healing process.
How To Care For Your Tattoo Once You Get Home
When you get home, be sure to continue taking care of your tattoo for the next few weeks by following your artist’s aftercare instructions closely. This means keeping it moisturized (but not saturated), I tend to use unscented cocoa butter during the healing process!
Don’t forget to also use your sunscreen when you’re out in the sun at home. Tattoos are still vulnerable to UV damage even when fully healed, so this is very important if you want them to last a lifetime!
If there’s anything else about keeping tattoos safe and protecting them from the hazards of travel that I haven’t covered here, please leave me a comment below.