A souvenir that lasts – 5 tips on getting tattooed while travelling

This is such a touchy subject, and one I’ve actually really been looking forward to writing about. Getting tattooed, while you’re travelling overseas. The irony of this is that “overseas” is different for us all. I live in Melbourne. Maybe you live in London. Or Rome. Or Seattle. Or Vancouver. Does that mean that you, living in Seattle, wouldn’t feel safe getting a tattoo in London, even though hundreds of people are probably seeing tattoo artists there every day??! Of course not, that’s completely ludicrous!

I think that the main issue with this topic is that many people have preconceived notions that:
a) Only irresponsible idiots get tattooed to begin with.
b) If you get tattooed while you’re travelling, it must have been a spur-of-the-moment idea that you probably had while drunk and will really regret it later on.
c) Because it was such a stupid, unplanned decision, you’re probably just going to get it done in some dirty, back-alley garage by a big guy in a torn leather jacket who doesn’t sanitise his needles or even wash his hands between appointments, which he smokes his way through.

While point a) irks me to no end, being the happy owner of we’ll over a dozen tattoos, I’m not writing this as a rant against people’s uninformed assumptions; if you’re not willing to consider the opinions of others and see both sides of a story, I don’t care much about what you think. Instead, I’m writing this for those of you who, like me, are admirers of art, and have maybe seen some work by talented artists across the globe who you might consider visiting on your next trip. Or maybe there’s just a city you really love, and want to take a memory of that city home permanently, and you need to find the right person for the job. Either way, there are a few things to consider….

 

1. Do your research regarding design:
* Don’t just turn up with a vague idea and expect it to be perfected immediately. They’re tattoo artists, not magicians.

* It should go without saying, but if you’re planning to get a tattoo in a language you’re not familiar with, for goodness sake, make sure it means what you think it means, and make sure it’s spelt correctly!!!!

 

2. Do your research regarding tattoo artist:
* If you’ve been following someone’s work for a while, this step is a lot easier. Otherwise, search online for “best tattoo artist in XXX” and read through all the lists that come up – if certain names seem to keep popping up on every list, chances are that’s for a good reason.

* Check that reviews/lists are actually recent and still relevant, not advice from 10 years ago.

* Try asking around on online forums, like Trip Advisor and Yelp.

* If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the native language, be sure you’re going to be able to communicate exactly what you’re wanting.

 

3. On the day:
* Does this place take walk ins or do you need to make an appointment in advance?

* If you need to make an appointment first, is a deposit required? Is it refundable (often it won’t be)?

* Are they a cash only place when it comes to payment, or are you able to pay on card?

* How can you get in touch if your plans change?

 

4. Consider the point in your trip you’ll be getting tattooed:
* Generally, you don’t want to expose your new tattoo to long periods of time submerged in water or exposed to the sun, so if your next few destinations are going to involve swimming and sunning yourself, it’s probably not the best time to do it.

* If you’re a party person, it’s also worth considering how many big nights you’re going to be having, and not getting your tattoo done the day after. Alcohol thins your blood, which means you’re going to bleed a lot more, and that’s not ideal.

 

5. After care:
This will be a bit easier if you’ve been tattooed before – while the general guidelines are pretty similar everywhere, only you know how your body heals and responds to certain ointments. As such, this advice is not to be taken as gospel, but for me, I know that:
a) I need to use Bepanthan cream for 4 – 5 days on my new tattoo, then switch to a gentle, non-scented moisturising cream.
b) my tattoos heal best when they’re kept covered for the first few days, and then left uncovered with a layer of Bepanthan where possible, or covered with plastic wrap over the Bepanthan again if they’re in an area that needs to be covered with clothing.

Knowing this, I packed some plastic wrap, medical paper tape and a tube of Bepanthan – I have sensitive skin, and after so many tattoos, I’m not willing to risk trying anything new at this point when this system has been working well for me for the past 12 years!

 

As you can see, we not dealing with some secret tricks – it’s basic common sense for the most part. If you do decide to get a tattoo in a foreign language made up of some cool characters that you’ve seen on a street sign after leaving a night club after having way too much to drink, and you do stumble into the first tattoo parlour you see with a quick iPhone snap of the street sign, then yes – you are an idiot and no one feels sorry for you and the crappy tattoo you’re going to end up with. For the rest of you who are looking for a lasting piece of artwork as a souvenir from a meaningful time or experience that you can literally carry with you for the rest of your life, I hope this helps! 🙂

 

As for me, I left home wanting to add to my collection, and …

Done by Martin at Sweet Hell Tattoo, Reykjavík, Iceland

Done by Pabby at Downtown Tattoo, New Orleans, USA

Treat yoself: The birthday edition part 1, Fitzroy – iPhoto tour | Rustica | Glitz & Glam Nails | Rice Paper Scissors | Tattoo Magic | Slowpoke Espresso

So, as promised, here’s the first round of suggestions on how you can bring a little “treat yoself” to your day/week/weekend…

First up: go for a walk around the suburban paradise that is Fitzroy.
Walk slowly, be curious, peek around corners and deviate off the main streets…

 

 

Next up: brunch at Rustica
402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.rusticasourdough.com.au/

Look, if we’re honest, there’s no such thing as a bad choice here; everything is amazing. However, I’d highly recommend one of the golden, flaky pastries, like this particularly magnificent matcha strawberry cronut. Countless numbers of pefect, crisp pastry filled with silky smooth matcha cream, and a bit of tangy strawberry jammy glaze on top. And a matcha marshmallow. Golden…

 

Then, get pampered at Glitz & Glam Nails
355 Smith St, Collingwood
https://web.facebook.com/glitzandglamnails.melb/

I’m not a girly girl. I don’t fake tan, I don’t get my nails done, I don’t even colour my hair. I take terrible care of my nails and feet, so I thought a little mani pedi action would be a nice treat. That said, I didn’t want to spend an absolute fortune and end up thinking “I could have done that myself at home.” Enter the ladies at Glitz & Glam – only $50 got me a relaxing hour of nail care (with a billion odd nail colours to choose from, including what looked like the majority of the O.P.I catalogue!), and they did a fantastic job 🙂 They made me feel right at home, and the massage chair they set me up in while my nails dried was the best thing that happened all week! If you need a little low maintenance girly pampering time, I’d highly recommend them!

 

Time to eat again, at Rice Paper Scissors
307 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.ricepaperscissors.com.au/

This place felt like the fancy home I wish I had from the moment I walked in – an amazing space that was just the right balance of laid back and too-gorgeous-for-my-life. The staff were all lovely; every single one of them on the floor and behind the bar made an effort to speak to me at one point. The menu is up around the same special standard, using an Asian hawker food model to produce a menu that’s street food at the heart, but way sexier. I got me a mango, coconut, mint crush to get started…

… followed by some delicious pork belly bao and the day’s special: crispy duck with Asian herb salad, chilli jam & coconut dressing.  The photos basically speak for themselves; the bao buns were pillowy soft with magnificent chunks of perfectly tender pork belly. And the salad was a bowl of flavour – the duck was amazing, and the herbs were fresh and punchy – this is one of the only salads you wanna be making friends with.

 

You’ve been tenderly pampered and fed, so now’s a good time to go and get tattooed at
Tattoo Magic
100 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
http://www.tattoomagic.com.au/

I was reading my book on the tram and realised that the design on my Lillytales bookmark was exactly what I wanted to add to my airplane tattoo on my right forearm. After my morning noms and pampering, I made my way to Tattoo Magic on Gertrude St, spoke to lovely lady manning the front desk – 10 minutes later I was sitting with Sean Jackson, working out sizes. 20 minutes after that, I was freshly inked, for the… eleventh, I think, time. $130 all up for the book and tea cup, superstar bloke, gorgeous shop, awesome experience, highly recommended!

 

And now that that’s all done, time to kick back for one more cup of tea at
Slowpoke Espresso
157 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
https://web.facebook.com/Slowpoke-Espresso-221714874514535/

There’s nothing like a hot pot of tea and a chocolate chip cookie to end the day, and Slowpoke does a bloody good chocolate chip cookie. Those little black specks on top are salt flakes, and they’re like fairy dust on top. The cookie is soft and chewy, which was a massive relief to me (I hate dry, chalky, crunchy cookies). And the chocolate was super sweet and creamy. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my day!

You’re not alone.

Happy Monday people! I know, Mondays, not really such a happy day for the majority of us who had to drag our tired asses off to work this morning after a weekend that almost certainly wasn’t long enough, and are now dragging those same, even more tired asses back home to cook dinner, do laundry, pay bills, blah blah blah… But I’m trying to be a little more positive and optimistic, so HAPPY MONDAY! Congratulations on getting through!

Anyway, I thought I’d do something a little bit different with today’s post. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may have noticed that while I share a little, I’m not inclined to be as super open and sharing as a lot of other bloggers. That’s no reflection on you guys, it’s more a character flaw of mine; I tend to be extremely reserved, introverted, a closed book. But recent happenings in my life and resulting conversations with a few trusted friends have led to some realisations that while we are all fighting our own battles, we do not necessarily have to fight them alone, nor do we have to simply shut up about them.

Sometimes the bravest thing is not to keep your problems to yourself and deal with them stoically and alone. Sometimes, the bravest thing we can do is to share our battles and vulnerabilities, in the hopes that others fighting similar battles can see that they’re not alone and find courage in that, to maybe fight a little harder themselves.

So, let me be brave. After many, many years of struggling alone (I’m talking over a decade), let me say that my personal struggle is with depression, anxiety and disordered eating. Let me say that it’s not easy to deal with it, and that I’m not special; there are millions of people who deal with these things every single day, most of whom will never share these battles. You may have absolutely no idea that someone you care about is fighting; most people who know me will have absolutely no idea whatsoever. And I’m not writing this because I want people to know what I’m dealing with . I want no attention, no being treated any differently, no fanfare, no bullshit.- I’d quite happily continue dealing with my shit alone. I’m writing it because what’s helped me most so far is realising that there are other people out there dealing with the same thing and making progress, so while I hate to share, if my sharing helps even one person out there to know they’re not alone, and makes a difference to or even saves just one life, that’s worth it.

Depression, anxiety, disordered eating – they’re really shitty things to deal with. The stigma around it all is still there. Because there aren’t generally many physical symptoms, not like with other mental illnesses like anorexia, for example, people don’t take it as seriously. “Just cheer up, your life isn’t that bad, there are people out there who have it way worse than you!” May as well tell a diabetic to just “get your shit together and regulate your insulin levels!” Just because we look “normal,” doesn’t mean we’re not drowning on the inside. You can’t see the black cloud that follows us around, sucking up all our energy and happiness. You can’t see our scars, emotional and/or physical. You can’t see the self-hatred behind the fake smiles. You can’t see the panic attacks over what to order at restaurants before you leave the house, or the binge eating that goes on behind closed doors, or the after-math of that. You don’t see any of it. But, it’s there.

AFL footballer Mitch Clark recently and very bravely spoke out about his personal battle, and I think this post he wrote a few weeks back on Facebook sums it up pretty well…

People think depression is sadness. People think depression is crying. People think depression is dressing in black. But people are wrong. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. Being numb to emotions, being numb to life. You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again. Days aren’t really days, they are just annoying obstacles that need to be faced. When you’re depressed, you grasp on to anything that can get you through the day. Even in a strange way you fall in love with your depression because you think it’s all you have. It’s not being able to see a way out, to see something good, to feel normal. That’s what depression is, not sadness or tears, it’s the overwhelming sense of numbness and the desire for anything that can help you make it from one day to the next. Please don’t suffer in silence and alone. Reach out and ask for help.

 

So, as I finally put on my big girl pants and reach out and ask for help after half a life time of trying to go it alone, I hope that others can start to do the same. I hope those of you who are fortunate enough not to be dealing with these issues first hand can be gracious and understanding and non-judgmental of those of us who are. Remember, you’ve only got one life; you should never be too busy to save it  : )

And this weekend, as a kind of thank you to myself for finally dealing with all of this, I got myself some fresh ink… allow me to introduce to you, the owl…

The attribute of the Goddess of Wisdom & a symbol of knowledge 📚 they live a solitary existence & are efficient hunters 🍃 they are a symbol of the moon, giving the gift of second sight 🌙  it is also a companion of the Goddess of the Underworld, able to guide the souls of the deceased into the afterlife ✨ the presence of the owl announces change 🔑

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