If you saw my Instagram stories last week you’ll know I went out and got a tattoo. It wasn’t any kind of drunken decision like Rob’s funny captions made it out to be, it was actually quite planned. I’d had an idea that I wanted to get while in Thailand for a while, and I’d honestly been psyching myself up for it all week. So on our last night in Pai I knew I had to do it.
I had done my research, via Trip Advisor, and had 2 tattoo shops in mind, then while grabbing a beer after dinner, one of the bar tenders who we’d been talking with all week recommended a couple of shops as well, one of which overlapped with the ones I’d already looked up.
So after some dinner and a beer, I’d worked up the nerve to go for it. We headed over to the first shop, but it was closed, so that was scratched. My next choice was also close, or the sign on the door said closed even though the light was on inside. I’m guessing that meant they were booked up for the night. The last place was also closed by the time we got there. The sign on the door said they closed at 9PM and I ran up to the door at 8:57. So it wasn’t looking good for my tattoo dreams.
I started to feel a little defeated, but only for a second. As we started walking back to our hotel I decided to just pick a place. There were tons of shops on the street, so I figured one of them had to be good, or at least good enough.
After passing up the first few shops I saw, I finally walked up to one with a lot of pictures on the door. The art looked good, I also peaked inside, and it looked clean. I was sold and I walked in.
The little shop I ended up in was called Ink Craft Tattoo, it’s not on Trip Advisor or really on the internet at all. Later when I tried to look it up (after getting the tattoo) I couldn’t find anything about it. But it was clean, and my tattoo artist was really nice. Plus there was a pretty rad mural on the wall to look at to distract myself while the tattoo was happening. I got a palm tree on my arm, a kind of reminder of my time spent on a tropical island, plus I just like palm trees.
So if you plan on getting a vacation tattoo while in a foreign country there are a few things to consider:
- Is the image and placement something you are going like when you get home and back to real life?
- Think on it for a while, and if you still want it at the end of your trip then I’d say go for it. While I am all for spontaneity, a tattoo is a permanent thing, and the more you think on it, and refine your idea, the better the tattoo will come out, or you realize it was a terrible idea and forget it. Remember you can always get it when you get home too.
- Do your research about the shop you want to go to. I did do a good amount of research prior to throwing it all out the window. Trip Advisor or Yelp are always a good place to start, as are any other kind of review websites.
- If you do end up going to a random shop without any idea of reviews or anything, look at pictures of other tattoos they’ve done. These would hopeful be up on the walls or in books in the front lobby area. Look at the quality of the tattoos. Do the lines and shading look good, does the coloring look even? Also is the style of tattoo what you are looking for?
- Make sure the shop is clean. This means everything from the lobby area to the tattoo chair, everything should be clean. Needles should be brand new and coming out of new packaging, and ink should be poured into little disposable containers.
After care is important
So if you’ve gone through with it and gotten your vacation tattoo. After care of it is very important to making sure it heals nicely. Sometimes you won’t get aftercare instructions so I’ve put this little list together with the Thai equivalent to all the unscented soaps and lotions that American tattoo artist recommend. I was able to find these things at 7/11.
- Take the bandage or plastic wrap off after 1 or 2 hours.
- Wash with mild unscented soap, I found that Dettol brand in the original unscented style works just fine. Pat dry with a paper towel. Do not rebandage, leave it to air dry.
- The next day (and until healed) wash it once to twice a day and use unscented lotion on it, lubriderm brand is usually recommended, but I wasn’t able to find any. I used Vaseline brand, in an unscented style obviously, and it’s been working fine.
- When it starts to get flakey don’t pick at it.
- Don’t wear tight clothing over the tattoo while it’s healing, it will need to breath and tight clothes will also rub off any scabbing.
- Remember to wash your hands before touching it to put lotion on.