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Getting a Tattoo Before Traveling

On their own, a big trip and a new tattoo are two exciting events in one’s life. When the two align along the same timeline, things get a little more interesting. After all, aftercare is essential to the success of a fresh tattoo, and if you’re like many travelers personal hygiene can be left on the sidelines (whether intentional or otherwise) when trotting around the globe. Then, there are other variables that come in to play that may require additional planning. Before you schedule a tattoo in the days or weeks preceding your departure time, please read ahead.

5 Things to Consider Before Traveling After Getting a Tattoo

1. Travel Comfort

Whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile you’ll may find yourself in a cramped space for a significant period of time. If you’re getting a tattoo on a spot of your body that comes into close contact with seating materials or the sweaty companion in the neighboring seat, it’s a good idea to schedule your tattoo at least two weeks in advance of your trip. This is especially true of a tattoo on the back of your thigh, buttocks, and back (lower to upper), which will all experience friction and discomfort when seated while traveling and can make a four-hour flight feel more like 14. Not only will a two or three-week window allow for better comfort, it will provide for adequate healing, the latter of which can be negatively impacted when seated in a less than sanitary place for hours on end.

2. Destination Climate Impact on Integrity of a New Tattoo

The climate of your final destination can have a major impact on the healing of fresh ink.

Tropical and humid? You’ll have to contend with sweat which can increase the risk of infections from bacteria if not kept clean of perspiration and subsequent clogged pores and dirt/bacteria buildup. Be sure to keep your new tattoo well-moisturized, but limit the potential for sweating by keeping as cool as possible while cleaning the area (as recommended by your tattooist) often. Hot and dry? That means sun exposure, so keep your new tattoo covered up with UV protectant clothing while maintaining optimal moisture. Even if you received the new ink weeks ago and it has technically healed, it is still susceptible to UV damage and fading, so once healed be sure to apply SPF 60+ to the tattoo to keep its integrity intact. What about cold to freezing climates? To a lesser extent it can also impact your tattoo’s ability to heal, but by following our detailed guide to protecting your new tattoo when in subzero climates you’ll be just fine.

3. Destination Activity Impact on Integrity of a New Tattoo

When you travel you partake in a wide variety of activities that you may not do (as much) when back at home. Before you sign up for anything, consider how it may affect your healing tattoo. If the activity is high-impact and can result in direct contact with your ink or will stress/stretch the surrounding skin, avoid it until your tattoo has healed. Water based activities (swimming, waterskiing, wake boarding, surfing, etc.) are also popular for travelers, but as you may or may not know, water (especially saltwater) can be an enemy to a new tattoo. Don’t enter the ocean until at least two weeks after getting a tattoo, monitor local water quality reports (especially in tropical destinations), and wear protective clothing (rash guard, wetsuit, etc.) over the work. View more on what you need to know about getting into the ocean after getting a tattoo.

4. Foreign Culture Implications?

Getting a Tattoo Before Traveling

In some cultures, tattoos are highly revered when it comes to spirituality and religion. In others, they are not, and even tourists may be deemed inconsiderate when putting them on display. Places such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia frown upon visitors who expose religious-themed tattoos, especially when in direct contradiction with the dominant religious belief system. In fact, any foreign (to you) culture known for devout commitment to religion and/or to religious duties or exercises may find certain tattoos offensive. Do some research about your up and coming destination beforehand and if there is cause for concern consider keeping that topless mermaid tattoo covered for the time being.

Of course, it’s worth noting that we’re not just talking about religious beliefs here. For example, if you are such a big fan of Liverpool FC that you want the emblem tattooed on your arm, you had best rethink that Airbnb in Manchester when traveling abroad to the UK. Again, do your research and give thought to local customs before displaying that custom ink job.

5. Leave Time for a Follow-Up Before Leaving?

Many people want to get a new tattoo prior to a major trip as a means to celebrate impending life-changing travels. However, if you’re getting a large tattoo, take note that a follow-up session with your tattooist is often essential to the success of the work. Upon inspection, they may need to provide additional aftercare advice, and in some cases a touchup may be required. But if you’re hitting the open road or skies for an extended period and won’t return for weeks or even months, then schedule your big tattoo well in advance so that you have time for the necessary follow-up, which for a large piece is typically 4 to 6 weeks. If returning from your travels by then, simply follow the itemized advice above and save the follow-up for after your return.

Contact Adrenaline Studios today with any further questions you have about getting your new tattoo when travel is also on the near horizon, or to schedule a consultation.