In 1883 Jack London wrote: “Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past.” Tattoos have always been a form of self expression, a rite of passage, a memorial, or a way to heal old wounds and move on. But when it comes to travelling with your body covered in tattoos, how do different cultures react?
Giselle and Cody are a pretty easy-going goofy couple with an immense love for travel, animals, kind food, music, and the art of tattooing. They have been travelling the world for over 26 months now and find it difficult to stop. In their MindfulWanderlust.com, an adventurous, kind, compassionate, and vegan travel website, they share their personal experiences through writing, photography, and videography, hoping to inspire people to travel, be more compassionate, and tread lighter on this beautiful planet. As they say, the world is a most excellent place to explore, and there is something new to learn around every corner.
They inspired us for sure, and this article about travelling with tattoos is something they wanted to share with us.
The history of tattooing goes back thousands of years. It has been practiced by many cultures around the world for many different reasons, from spiritual and decorative reasons, to rank and title, to simple beauty practices.
Travelling with tattoos can be pretty interesting at times, as it can really show you how open and tolerant a country is. And that goes for people as well.
Cody and I have been getting tattooed for years now. We have fallen in love with the art form, and are happy to see how main stream it has become. For many, tattoos are a form of self expression, for others they are rite of passage, a memorial, or a way to heal old wounds and move on. At one point all of my tattoos had to mean something to me, but for a few years now, after learning more and more about tattoos, and seeing how many outstanding artists there are out there, I have now started to collect art on my body simply because love it.
When it comes to travel, we make sure we are respectful and always look up the countries we are visiting ahead of time so we know what type of dress is appropriate. We would do this if we weren't heavily tattooed as well. Wearing short shorts and a midriff top is probably not a good idea when visiting a Buddhist temple or the pyramids.
Except for when we are in Dahab, we dress pretty conservatively while in Egypt. Cody has a full sleeve of King Tut and the Egyptians love it. Come to think of it, we dress pretty modestly in almost every country we visit unless we are at the beach.
TATTOOS ARE JUST ONE OF THE MANY DIFFERENT WAYS TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE
Because South East Asia has been steeped in tattoo culture for thousands of years, we regularly had several locals approach us to take a closer look at our work. It was always fun to ask them about their tattoos, and hear their stories. While in Egypt, many locals also approached us regarding our tattoos. We would be invited for tea, or something to eat, and spend a few hours chatting with them and learning about their lives.
GETTING TATTOOED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
We have work from Canada, Nepal, and Thailand, and will soon be adding the US to the list.
We don't have many fears when it comes to getting a new piece of art work while travelling, as we are pretty knowledgable in the subject. We do our research, and always look into the shop and artists work. It is important that the work is solid, the shop is clean, and the artist is sober. It is also important to protect your new tattoo by keeping it out of direct sunlight, and not going into chlorinated pools.
No matter what you do, or what you look like, people are going to judge you. We have had looks of dissapprovement from a few people, but for the most part people are very interested in our work, and our tattoos have been the topic of many a conversation. We are kind, friendly, fun, and easy going people, and if someone gives us bad looks and judges us based on our appearance, it truly says more about them than it does about us.
Most of us were taught to not judge a book by its cover at a very young age, yet people are so fixated on appearance that it clouds their judgement, and they miss out on meeting some very good people. You don't have to like the way someone looks, but it's probably a good idea to refrain from forming an image of who you think they are. We have never had any problems in any country we have been to regarding our tattoos. Stares yes, but problems no. And that comes with the territory. We don't even notice our tattoos anymore.