When you travel internationally, it’s always important that you do your research. You need to know the proper clothing to wear. It’s a good idea to learn at least the basics of the local language. You should understand the local currency and whether or not you’ll be able to use your debit card.
When you’re a pierced traveler, you need to take your piercings into account. Whether you have dozens of facial piercings or only a couple of visible pieces of jewelry, you need to know the cultural implications of your jewelry, whether or not the country you’re visiting widely accepts piercings, and how people will perceive your piercings.
Here are some brief tips for pierced travelers.
Make sure you understand the local culture
In the United States, alternative piercings have slowly crept into mainstream acceptability. While some piercings might still garner judging looks from more conservative folks, the majority of pierced people can go through their daily lives hassle free.
This isn’t always the case around the world. Some places still have hang-ups when it comes to piercings. For example, a very small portion of the Japanese population is pierced, so if you visit Japan with many piercings, you might get some looks.
Additionally, if you want to visit more religious areas, like Israel or the UAE, you might find trouble if you are heavily pierced. Many religions in these regions ban tattoos and piercings, and these forms of body modifications are frowned upon in tourists. It’s important that you do your research and find out if you need to take out your jewelry prior to arriving in areas such as these.
Beyond this risk of being denied entry, it’s a simple matter of respect for the local culture. Similar to how you need to have your shoulders and midriff covered when touring a church, you need to make sure that you adhere to the local customs and expectations. You’re a visitor in their country. If you can’t follow the local rules, then you shouldn’t go.
Think about hiding your piercings while going through customs
Even though places like Europe and Australia are similar to the United States in their acceptance of piercings—and you’ll likely see many pierced people when you visit—when you go through customs to enter these countries, your piercings might present some red flags.
Even in countries where piercings are accepted, your multiple facial piercings might carry a stigma.
In the best of cases, going through customs is a stressful affair. The slightest hesitation to a question might raise an alarm in the customs officer, leading to further questioning. This author, for example, once had to pull out her rental agreement, old tram tickets, and all sorts of proof of residency in the Czech Republic after having let slip that she worked for herself and lived alone. You never know how your actions or answers might label you as a possible security threat.
While piercings are widely accepted, there’s still a stigma that surrounds them. If you have a plethora of visible piercings, it’s a good idea to take them out before you go through customs, no matter what country you’re entering.
What about piercings and airport security?
It’s very rare that your piercings will set off the metal detectors in airport security. Unless you’re nervous about going through security, you likely won’t need to take out your piercings to go through the metal detectors.
However, similar to going through customs, airport security is allowed to pull passengers aside for additional screening. While this act is supposedly random, depending on the agent and the country you’re in, your piercings could be a reason that you’re chosen. Unfortunately, a stigma surrounding piercings does persist, and there’s no guarantee that you might be wrongfully judged for your multiple facial piercings.
To avoid hassle during air travel, you might want to think about taking out your jewelry for the duration of the flight or give extra time for security and customs. If you have a new piercing, use a discreet piercing retainer to keep your piercing hole open without raising any red flags.
Keep extra jewelry on hand
When you’re actively traveling, there’s a good chance that you might lose a jewelry item. Since even long-healed piercings can close in short order, it’s a good idea to bring an extra jewelry piece or two to replace a lost item. You might consider bringing some replacement parts in case you only lose a piece of your jewelry.
Depending on the country you’re traveling through, it might be difficult to find a store that sells body jewelry. Beyond that, you don’t want to waste precious hours of your vacation searching for a new piece of jewelry. Do yourself a favor, plan ahead, and bring along an extra piece of jewelry or two.
Leave your flashier items at home
This tip is largely meant for more impoverished areas.
When you travel in poorer regions, it’s well known that you shouldn’t flaunt your nice watches, bracelets, and other expensive items. You even need to be careful about holding your smartphone in your hand, lest it get snatched. Wearing your expensive items for all to see in a poorer area not only makes you stand out in a bit of a distasteful way, but it could also label you as a lucrative target. The same goes for your body jewelry.
Your dainty diamond nose ring might be your favorite piece of jewelry, but if you’re in an area where shoes are crumbling off of the locals’ feet, it will be massively out of place, and it’s probably a little inappropriate.
For your safety, and out of respect for the locals, be aware of your flashier items (including your body jewelry), and leave them at home if need be. This also goes for your clothing and overall outward appearance.
At the end of the day, traveling with piercings simply requires additional research beyond what you should be doing before you enter a new country. When you travel internationally, it’s important to note that you’re a guest in the country, and as such, you are required to respect the local rules and customs. If the locale frowns upon body piercings, you need to respect that.
When in doubt, invest in some discreet piercing retainers so that you can enjoy your international vacation hassle free.
Looking for some tiny, discreet body jewelry pieces for your international travel? Here are some options.