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View from airplane window in the air at sunset
By Meghan O'Neal 12/16/2019

For many people, postcards and trinkets make for perfect souvenirs while traveling. Some of us prefer something a little more permanent to mark our time in a new location, like a piercing or tattoo.

Whether you’re off to visit family or you’ve decided to take advantage of the holiday to book an overseas adventure, many of you will be traveling this holiday season. On your travels, you might be tempted to get that new piercing that you’ve always wanted. But, is it advisable?

We love the idea of getting pierced on a whim (as long as you’ve researched proper piercers and made sure that it’s a decision that you won’t regret). When you receive a new piercing while on the road, there are going to be additional aspects that you need to consider before getting your piercing.

Here’s what you need to know about getting pierced while you’re traveling.

Commercial transportation is kind of disgusting

There’s a reason why seasoned travelers tend to carry wet wipes with them at all times; commercial transportation—whether by train, bus, or plane—is really gross.

Because of this, you need to take extra care with your new piercing while in the air or on the road. Wipe down your seating area with a wet wipe to help kill some of the bacteria surrounding you. Make sure that your new piercing doesn’t touch any of the surfaces (which might be difficult if you were planning on grabbing a nap). Take extra care not to play with your jewelry, since your hands will be covered in bacteria as well.

airplane aisle on a full plane

Thousands of people fly every day, and they can’t thoroughly clean the seats between flights, leading to a plethora of bacteria.

You should also stay away from the water on airplanes. Recent studies have come out showing that airlines don’t clean their water tanks as much as they probably should. Even if you make sure to wash your hands, you’re still using nasty airplane water, so your hands probably aren’t the cleanest. If you need to clean your new piercing while traveling, invest in a hands-free saline spray that you can squirt directly onto the piercing without touching it. If you absolutely must touch your piercing, be sure to clean your hands with hand sanitizer beforehand.

Be aware of language barriers

If you’re traveling to a non-English-speaking country, you need to be aware of language barriers. 

If you’re traveling to a larger city, you’ll likely be able to find a piercer who can speak at least a little English. However, misunderstandings can happen even when the person you’re speaking with has higher-level English skills. 

Be prepared with a picture of what you want, and have Google Translate ready. It’s a good idea to research some phrases in the local language that might help you. And, don’t be afraid to clarify what you want and where you want it multiple times.

Take your time with the consent forms. Your piercer will likely explain it to you, but it’s always a good idea to double-check the consent form with Google Translate.

Before you go to the piercer, be sure that you do your own research about aftercare and proper procedures. The language barrier might mean that you won’t fully understand what’s going on, and researching proper practices beforehand will greatly help you.

Piercers in some countries aren’t held to the same standards as in the United States

If you’re traveling to Europe, chances are that most places will adhere to similar standards as in the US.

However, if you’re traveling to SE Asia, for example, you might come across some sketchy piercing parlors. When researching your piercer, make sure that they follow safe practices. Their tools should come packaged and be opened in front of you. They should use sterile gloves at all times. The piercing parlor should look clean and feel sterile. 

Just because the piercing parlor doesn’t legally have to adhere to certain standards doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t. Make sure that you do your research and find a safe, reputable piercer.

Pro tip: the Association of Piercing Professionals boasts members worldwide. When in doubt, find a piercing parlor that is a member of the APP to ensure that they adhere to the same standards that you’d find in the US.

Medical issues

If you’re traveling for quite some time, you need to know how to seek out medical help if something goes wrong with your piercing. It can be a bit of a hassle to try and find a hospital, especially if you’re in a country where English isn’t the native language.

Even getting over-the-counter medication can be difficult while traveling abroad.

Additionally, the nice thing about getting pierced at home is that you have access to your piercer for consultation. If you’re leaving the place where you got pierced, you won’t have that luxury. Luckily, many piercers will take a look at your piercing for you even if you didn’t get pierced there, but you’ll have to go through the research process again to find a reputable piercer who you trust to tell you what’s happening with your piercing. 

Keep activities in mind

When you get a new piercing, you can’t go swimming, you need to make sure that you rest, and you should refrain from smoking and binge drinking. These can all be difficult to avoid while you’re on vacation.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a piercing while traveling. Just schedule your piercing so that it doesn’t interfere with your holiday plans.

Getting a piercing while traveling can be a great way to commemorate your trip. However, there are additional risks that you need to keep in mind. Just like getting a piercing when you’re at home, you simply need to research a reputable piercer, keep your piercing clean, and make sure that you can commit to the healing period, and you shouldn’t see any issues.

Ready for a new piercing?

Here are some of our favorites to inspire you.

Meghan O'Neal

One Reply to “Can I Get Pierced While Traveling? A Guide”

barna tattoo, 18 Dec 2019

Reallu good advice in order to take care about our new piercing if we are travelling.

Thanks for sharing!

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