As someone with a lot of tattoos, I want to share something with you. Three things go into a beautiful tattoo: a great design, a great artist, and proper aftercare. Aftercare is generally pretty easy, but if you’re traveling, it can be a pain. Tattoos are most fragile in their first month, but for your skin to completely heal, it takes about 4-6 weeks. So here are some things to think about if you’re considering getting a tattoo on vacation.
The #1 most damaging thing for new tattoos. Nothing will make a tattoo fade faster than exposing it to direct sunlight. The sun can bleach out the colors, or make it dry out faster than usual, also leading to fading. Depending on where your new tattoo is, and where you are traveling, that creates a lot of restrictions. This should go without saying, but that means no tanning beds either!
Never EVER submerge your new tattoo under water. It will cause your tattoo to get pruney, and scabs to fall off, which will leave you with a blotchy tattoo. Scabs are supposed to fall off in their own time. If that’s not enough to deter you (which, it definitely should), the chlorine and other chemicals that are in them will definitely affect your tattoo. It can even cause blood poisoning.
Avoid lakes, oceans, rivers, etc. at all costs, because they are swimming with bacteria. And the only thing that could potentially hurt your tattoo more than sun bleaching, is an infection.
Not only are you surrounded by dirt and germs, but a new tattoo also means no chemicals, therefore, no bug spray, no sunscreen. That makes camping a bit harder. The hardest part of camping with a new tattoo though, is cleaning it. It’s important to keep your new tattoo clean, and wash it a few times a day, and that is near impossible to do while camping.
Other Things to Consider
• Showering – If you’re in a country with questionable drinking water, that is a major thing to consider! When I was in Mexico, we were advised to not even shave in the shower in case we were to cut ourselves. If you can’t drink the water, don’t even think about showering in that water with a healing tattoo.
• Placement – For example, don’t get a shoulder tattoo if you know you’re going to have to carry your backpack or other luggage over your shoulder. Friction is NOT good OR comfortable for a new tattoo.
• Do Your Research if You’re Getting a Cultural Tattoo – First off, consider if the tattoo you’re getting could be construed as cultural appropriation. That’s a big no-no. But if you decide it’s appropriate, make sure the symbol means what you think it means. And if it’s something in another language, triple – no, QUADRUPLE check that it translates correctly. Don’t take the artists word for it. Show it to other people in the shop, and see if they can confirm it. Do a quick Google search. Be positive.
So if you get a tattoo on vacation, consider getting it in the last couple days of your trip. That way you’re not constantly worrying about what you can and cannot do for the rest of your trip. I hope this gives you some perspective.