Getting a tattoo in a different country is a grab bag. For some, it's a dose of adrenaline and a riveting story with a happy ending. Others, however, might feel less enthused about their new arm adornments once they pass through customs and readjust to American life. A few people even loathe their travel tattoos from the get-go. Before you take the plunge and get a tattoo across the pond, take into consideration the good, bad, and the ugly.
Having such a vulnerable experience abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How cool is it that you can tell all your friends back home what it's like to get ink in a foreign land? Keep in mind, however, that the tattoo methods that you're familiar with back in the U.S. might not align with other cultures.
"Having such a vulnerable experience abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
If you visit Japan, you'll find a string of boutique parlors that offer what's called Irezumi, which means tattoos that are done by hand rather than needle. Many of these options are body-sized, confirmed Japan Times, so be ready for big commitment. The artist repeatedly whacks the end of a hammer-like tool so that the needle punctures the skin. Not for the faint of heart, this technique not only procures beautiful work, it makes for a killer story or video to put on your travel blog.
Of course, the allure of adventurous ink assumes that everything goes according to plan. Language barriers and cultural differences can get in the way of precision. Keep this in mind when you're thinking about marking your travel stories on your body when you're in Nice, France, or Alajuela, Costa Rica.
What's worse is that you could get a tattoo that sounds pretty in a country's native tongue but is actually offensive in other places. If you're a frequent traveler, keeping this in mind is critical so you won't have to apologize for your tattoos when you visit new cities.
Somewhere between mixing up conjugations and braving a tactful yet more painful procedure, there's also the ugly of getting a tattoo far away from home. This odd experience composes of infections, oddball tattoo artists and hack jobs. Since you are a visitor, you may get taken advantage of financially when you're getting a tattoo abroad.
In the same way that tourists get charged double by street vendors or pickpocketed on the subway, you may also encounter a dodgy tattoo parlor that produces subpar work and charges you well above your price point because they know that travelers will pay top dollar for the experience.
Still, the choice is yours and yours alone just like the entire journey itself. Have your wits about you and do your research so you know what's custom of foreign tattoo parlors. A well-contrived tattoo itinerary is the best possible route to some souvenir ink that suits you long after you unpack your suitcase.
If you return home and start regretting your decision, consider laser tattoo removal. It's the perfect way to relinquish a spontaneous travel decision but keep the memories.
Over 45 million US adults* are living with tattoos, but now permanent ink can be a thing of the past. PicoSure® is the world's latest breakthrough technology in laser tattoo removal providing faster results in fewer treatments. Visit www.picosurear.wpengine.com to learn more and find a PicoSure Practitioner near you. * Source: Harris Interactive, 2012