Every legendary vacation deserves an epic keepsake. Maybe it’s a shot glass from the “we got a little outta control” girls trip, a sweet postcard to memorialize a summer weekend getaway with your boo or maybe, if you’re feeling really spontaneous, a travel tattoo to commemorate your incredible solo adventure. While going YOLO might seem like the best idea ever when you’re in paradise, there are serious things to consider before getting inked in unknown territory. Luckily, Rus Laich, a tattoo artist at The Honorable Society in LA, is here to help. Read on for five things to keep in mind before going under the needle when you’re a long way from home.


1. Avoid weird locations and shops with red flags. Tattoo shops are legitimate businesses, nothing less. You wouldn’t take a doctor’s appointment in an alleyway would you? Same here. Rus advises, “Never get tattooed on a beach, a boardwalk or anyplace that also sells bongs and novelty t-shirts. Tattoos are expensive. If a shop can’t survive without selling selfie sticks, it’s because their tattoos suck and the locals don’t go there.” Good looking out, Rus.

2. Don’t trust everything you read online. Review sites can be lifesavers when you’re traveling to a new locale, but mostly for things like finding margaritas or tacos, not places to get permanent art tattooed on your body. Rus agrees, adding, “While it’s generally good to stay away from places with horrible ratings, don’t inherently trust a shop just because they got all their friends to post great things about them on a review site. Use it to find what’s available, then check out their websites and portfolios. You’d be amazed how many ways a simple skyline or a horseshoe can be screwed up.”


3. Keep it simple. Vacation is not the time to dive into a sleeve or mural that will cover your entire back. “Unless you planned ahead and made getting tattooed the focus of your trip, stick to a palm tree or whatever symbolism adorns that city’s post cards and shot glasses,” says Rus. “Tattoo TV shows lead you to believe a sleeve can be drawn up while you walk next door and get a Frappuccino. They can’t. Save the memorial to Nanna for when you’re home. Vacations are fun, so get a fun tattoo. You’re in New Orleans? Get a crawfish holding a beer. Done!”

4. Timing is everything. When you’re getting ink done on a vacation, logistics are everything. “Get tattooed toward the end of the trip, but don’t leave it till the last second,” Rus advises. Find a shop early in your trip and make an appointment for the day before you leave. You’ll need to avoid beaches, lakes and pools after you get your tattoo, so don’t make yourself miserable watching your friends have fun while you’re wearing a sweatshirt under an umbrella all week [because you got your tattoo on day one].”

5. Health hazards are mostly history. Rus confirmed that the old fears of parlors reusing needles and operating in unsanitary conditions are, for the most part, a thing of the past. Which is great news all around, but doesn’t mean you can get away without doing ANY research. “If a shop cares enough to hire good tattooers, they’re generally going to practice good hygiene. You’re much more likely to get a misspelled name than hepatitis, so again, look at the portfolios before you commit!” Rus says.

Did you get a tattoo while on vacay? We want to see it! Tag us in your Instas @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)