Beware of a language barrier : It’s part of the adventure to get a tattoo in an exotic location, but that may mean the artist doesn’t speak your native language quite as fluently. This could mean that how your explaing exactly what you want could get lost in translation. I suggest bringing as many photos (preferably printouts) as possible so the artist can trace and doodle on them. If the piece you want requires a lot of improvising and imagination on the artist’s part, maybe save that one til you’re home or til you have a translator that can really convey what you want.
Pick the right artist : The first step after you’ve decided on the perfect piece of art (and I suggest you try to spend at least a couple days making sure it’s the right one) is picking the right artist and shop. I generally begin with doing a bit of research via google and trip advisor. There are usually a few forums that have some suggestions based on the city you’re in. I like to get as many suggestions as possible from people whose ink has already healed so they know how the color came out.
This isn’t always reliable because everyone does the aftercare process differently, so part 2 is to scope out and make friends with some locals that have good art. If you see someone with a style you like, don’t be afraid to stop and ask about it! I always make it a priority snap photos of tattoos I like and to ask around just in case. I’ve already gotten a few that way!
Bargaining is not always better : If you’re in a country where there are no set prices and bartering is a way of life, you may think you should bargain for all services. Though it may feel second nature to get the “local price”, don’t be too quick to do that with getting new ink. The reputable shops will probably have fair prices depending on the size or amount of time it will take. If you’ve found a great place with an artist that really understands you and your style, don’t try to save a few $$ on something that is going to be on your body forever.
Sterilization : This is an important part of getting a tattoo in a more remote location. Before getting your new tattoo, read up on the exact process for receiving a clean tattoo before you get started so you know what to look for in the proper sterilization process.
Aftercare : This process ensures a healthy, vibrant tattoo. Typically you are forbidden to get it wet, use soap, or be in the sun for about 2-3 weeks. This means that you are not allowed to swim in the pool or beach, get sand on it, or lay out for a good while. Don’t forget, if it’s winter you’ll be brushing it frequently with jackets or pants. The weather may also dry it out more, so bring extra Aquafor to hydrate it. If you’re carrying a backpack and will be on the move a lot, be extra careful that it won’t rub your ink Make sure you schedule your trip or appointment accordingly!
Don’t let stereotypes and hearsay dissuade you from doing what you want, just be smart about it! Having a symbol of a life-changing experience can be a great reminder to live life to the fullest and be here, now.