Permanent Souvenirs – Tattoo Collecting while Travelling

Whilst I love a great scarf to add to my collection whilst travelling my husband, Billy has a different collection going on.  His souvenirs always fit in his bag and never have to be squashed in to the luggage.  TATTOOS!! They are always on his list while we are away.  I am not a fan at all but I fully support this life long obsession.  We have come up with some tips and tricks on the HOW TO get a great tattoo while on a trip.  So Billy please fill us in……….tattoo


There are a few options here and Billy has used many of them.  First is to find the tattoo artist you want to visit.  This can be by following an artist on Instagram, searching for artists that work with your type of tattoo style, Goggling top tattoo artists in the local area you are visiting or Following artists on Facebook and researching that way.


Once Billy has chosen a few artists that will suit his genre of tattoos, he will call them.  This is done a few months in advance before even leaving for the trip. Especially beforehand if it is a popular tattoo artist.  A quick chat to the tattoo artist about availability and design and you should get a feel if they are someone you will want to work with and also if they are available.  If you can’t lock in a date before you leave, try calling into a studio while you are away.  Popular and well known places may have a cancellation or a rare empty slot that you can take.


Billy has got tattoos in New York, Venice Beach, LA, Las Vegas, Hawaii and he has never felt the need to question their hygiene as the standard in high profile American studios is extremely high.  Tokyo was another city where he got a tattoo and the hygiene was impeccable.   While we were in Hong Kong the first studio he checked out was dirty and the English language was limited which made it too hard.  He found another studio in Hong Kong which was owned and ran by South Africans and he knew it was a clean place to be tattooed.

Tokyo tattoo studio

Tokyo tattoo studio

Japanese tattoo tools

Japanese tattoo tools


Mainly with cash after the tattoo has been completed.  In Venice Beach, LA the tattoo Billy had was booked months in advance but payment was accepted after the tattoo.  Remember to tip the artist when getting a tattoo in USA.  When we were in Tokyo the artist wanted a part payment via PayPal before he started the work.


Billy has had discussions over the phone and internet with the artists before arriving to finalise any specific designs.  In Tokyo due to a language barrier lots of pointing at pictures in design books came up with the final picture.  Take all your ideas with you to help the artists develop the picture you want.


Plan out when you want to get the tattoo.  Things to consider are: the tattoo shouldn’t be getting too wet for two weeks.  Look at booking the tattoo towards the last few days of your trip so that you get still get all the beach, pool and spa time in on your holidays.  Think about the flight home as you may want a few days before hopping on a plane if you plan on getting a tattoo near your belt line or on your back, as it may be uncomfortable sitting.

Ask the tattoo artist about after care.  In USA Billy has always stocked up on Lubriderm Cream (not available in Australia) to rub on the tattoo every few hours.  Interestingly with the Japanese traditional tattoo that Billy got, the artist said not to touch it or add any cream.  Billy was sceptical about this approach but did as was told and the tattoo came up beautifully.


Traditional Japanese tattoos ( irezumi ) are still “hand-poked.” This is when the ink is inserted beneath the skin using non-electrical, hand-made and hand held tools with needles of sharpened bamboo or steel. This method is known as tebori.  Billy had this style in Tokyo.  He was a little swollen the next day around the tattoo but said it wasn’t any more painful as a modern tattoo.

New York Hardcore

New York Hardcore

We would love to see your tattoos that you have had while travelling.  LEt us know where you got yours!


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14 Replies to “Permanent Souvenirs – Tattoo Collecting while Travelling”

  1. Interesting! I haven’t gotten a tat while traveling yet, mostly because of the reason you mentioned about not letting them get wet for a few weeks. There are too many fantastic beaches in Australia!
    Speaking of which – Bepanthen is a good alternative to Lubriderm Cream, and is easily available in Aus. It’s actually marketed for nappy rash, but a number of tattoo artists have recommended it, and I used it when I got my ribs done 🙂

  2. This is awesome, something I have been wanting to do for a long time (get tattoos when traveling)! Great information! Where was it that he got his tattoo in Hawaii? (Tattoo artist & shop)? I am going to Hawaii in about a month with my family and my mom and I have been wanting to get tattoos in Hawaii for a long time! So I have been trying to find a great artist in Hawaii!

    1. Yet to get a tattoo in Hawaii but in 30 days we will be there and no doubt he will be getting one. I’ll let you know

  3. Hey Debbie, Where did Billy get his tattoo in Hawaii, i’m keen to get one done whilst there toward the end of the trip. Thanks

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