It seems like ever since Angelina Jolie came back from Thailand with a new tattoo, tattoo tourism has been very trendy. However, long before Angelina made headlines, tattoo tourism was alive and well. For a frame of reference here, take for example a country like Thailand, where seventy percent of tattoos are purchased by tourists. The most extreme examples are Christchurch, New Zealand, where ninety percent of tattoos are purchased by tourists, and Denpasar, Indonesia, where ninety-nine percent of tattoos are purchased by tourists.
Tattoo tourism is a multi-million dollar industry and some of the most sought-after artists are booked years in advance by eager travelers hoping to get a remarkable tattoo. With all of the tattoo conventions around the world now, remote artists are becoming more accessible and better known. The internet and spread of information has also helped to make tattoo tourism thrive. It allows people to find different and diverse tattoo styles, and it allows us to learn about different tattoo traditions around the world. There are instances where people go on vacation and along the way decide to get an impromptu tattoo, especially in places like Las Vegas. However, serious collectors and tattoo enthusiasts tend to take a different approach. They will travel to a specific destination because they are seeking a particular artist or style endemic to that region of the world. Samoa is a prime example. Tattoo enthusiasts go to Samoa specifically for tattoos, and they plan for it far in advance.
There are a couple of things to consider when you are traveling for a tattoo. First of all, many tattoo destinations are close to the beach. Places like Samoa, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, Tahiti, etc. You will want to remember that water and fresh tattoos don’t mix. Nor do sunburn and tattoos. If you plan to be active, sweating is another concern for keeping your new tattoo healthy and vivid. It might be smart to get your tattoo near the end of your trip so you won’t have to be worried about messing up a new tattoo while surfing the Hawaiian waves, climbing a mountain, or simply basking in the sun. Remember that aftercare is important if you want to ensure your tattoo heals properly. You will need to keep up with hygiene, and make sure it doesn’t get infected. This can be difficult while traveling, so be prepared.
Another consideration, which NPR has written extensively about, is making sure your tattoo doesn’t offend the natives of the region you are visiting. According to the article, many tourists visiting Thailand don’t realize that the head is considered sacred and the feet profane. So if you get a religious symbol, image, or text below the belt, there is a good chance someone will not be pleased about it. Aside from taking care of your tattoo, finding a hygenic and reputable artist, and making sure not to offend the locals, there isn’t much to worry about when traveling abroad for some fresh ink. If you do it right, you’ll be getting a one-of-a-kind tattoo from a world renowned artist.