By Sam Rulz
Here is a small compilation of travel tips based on some of my experiences in my year of being on the road as a traveling tattooer...
Tips For Traveling Tattooers
*You can carry two pieces of hand luggage onto the plane, buy a rolling bag and an over the shoulder bag.
*Ensure you can run relatively easily with both of these. When you’re late, you gotta run.
*Carry three jackets on the plane also, they can also act as blankets, pillows, and storage space for more stuff.
*If you’re not wearing your jackets you can tie the arms of them around the handle of your rolling bag so you don’t have to carry them.
*Search through your hand luggage before you get to the airport to ensure you’re not carrying your favorite craftknife or scissors.
*Within your own country it’s fine to take your machines in your hand luggage, but expect them to want to look at them at the security screening.
*Print at least two copies of your full itinerary, carry one in your jacket, and one in your checked luggage. When traveling abroad you’ll need to show that you have a ticket to leave their country.
*Carry your phone charger on the plane with you, some airlines including some Air New Zealand, Emirates, and Singapore airlines have seats where you can charge your phone.
*Pack your own headphones in your jacket or hand luggage as the provided ones suck and hurt your ears.
*If you plan to work at your destination without a working visa I recommend deactivating your Facebook for the duration of the flight.
*If you’re sending a package with your working supplies to your destination allow two weeks for it to arrive, longer for remote locations such as South Africa.
*On your travels you can add credit to your Skype account to make cheap phone calls to any phone, providing you have Internet access.
*Before a long flight I recommend steaming your face so you don’t feel like such a greasy mess when you arrive. Boil water and put in a large bowl on a table, hold your face above it and drape a towel over the top to make a sauna. Stay for around 10 minutes/3 songs, and pat your face dry with the towel. This is also great for relaxing a bit as I find airports pretty stressful.
*Shampoo your hair twice and condition once. Your hair will feel ultra clean and feel nicer for longer.
*Pack a clean pair or underwear in your hand luggage and change Into them first chance out of the plane. You’ll feel so much better.
*In your hand luggage you can take lip balm/lipstick, a powder concealer (with a mirror is best) a couple eyeshaddows and an eyeliner. You can put these on in the ladies bathroom at the airport or in your seat upon decent to landing. Just so you don’t look like a complete piece of shit when you arrive. Ignore the things saying you need to have these in a sealed clear plastic bag, I’ve never had a problem, just no liquids or gels over 100 ml.
*Carry a nail-file in your carry on luggage of the non-metal variety, hauling luggage through airports really fucks up your nails.
*Bring prints with you, they are a perfect, light weight, relatively cheap, and personal gift to say thanks to the people you stay with or meet, and are also great to swap, or easily show your painting works while on the road.
*Carry a pen onboard, it really sucks to scramble to find a pen in the customs area to fill out your declaration forms.
*Change your money when you arrive at your destination, it’s where you’ll get the best rate as they value their own currency the least.
*XE Currency Converter app is awesome because you can calculate relative currency values super quick and easy, you can also easily keep an eye on how each currency is performing against each-other over a course of time. And it’s free!
*Pack things like deodorant and makeup in an easy to access spot in your check in luggage, so that when you arrive at your destination, or recheck your luggage during transit; you can easily have at 'em.
*Always ask at check in if your luggage will be automatically transferred to your ongoing flight. If you have a domestic flight after an international flight you will new to collect your bag and clear customs before your next flight.
*If you don’t have a boarding pass for your next flight; make it your top priority upon arriving to your intermediate destination, if your airline doesn’t have a ticket counter inside the terminal you’ll have to exit through passport control and go to their check in counter.
*If you know your luggage will be overweight you can often pre-purchase the extra kilos online to save yourself quite a bit of money.
*If you don’t have very much to take in your check in luggage you can pack one of your carry-on bags inside your check in bag, this will mean you have room to buy awesome stuff!
*On long flights where you have one or more stops it is common for the gate numbers to have changed, so keep checking the board inside the terminal and make sure you’re at the correct gate.
*Have your important addresses and phone numbers with you in a book, as you never know when your phone will die.
*Try to sleep as much as possible on the plane to avoid jet lag as best you can.
*In some countries that are primarily Muslim such as Jordan, they have separate security screening for women, to avoid a hassle and long mens queue keep your eyes peeled for it.
*If you have a laptop or iPad in your carry-on; pack it at the top of your rolling bag to make it easier to separate when you go through security screening.
*Sign out of any of your email and social networking sites before boarding the plane.
*Pack delicate items such as tattoo machines inside socks inside shoes in your check-in luggage.
*Packing your underwear on top of your check in luggage deters security from digging to eagerly into your things.
*If using your e-passport through the automated controls be sure to remove your hat and glasses or it won’t work.
*Travel with a small digital camera with a big SD card that easily fits in your pocket and carry it with you always, you never know when you’ll see something really cool and a big camera is straight up cumbersome. Waterproof camera is best, I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT10 that rocks. 32GB SD card means I don’t have to worry about running out of space and being waterproof means that I can get radical reference photos in all sorts of locations.
*Don’t bother packing high heels, they take up too much room and chances are you wont have a chance to wear them, better to just buy some there.
*Try to learn at least a little bit of the local language, there are a bunch of free apps for iPhone that are really helpful, and you can buy the full version if you want to give it a really good go. The locals always appreciate it.
*When you arrive hit the duty-free perfumes so you can smell amazing for free instead of hot trash.
*Ask the studio in advance what supplies of theirs you can use, although if you’re on an extended journey it’s best to simply have everything. Don’t forget power converters!
*If you have never worked in your destination before be sure to get a feel beforehand as to whether you’ll be able to/need to generate your own bookings or not, obviously if you’re headed to a private studio and you have no customers; you aren’t going to have such a great time.
*You can carry inks in your checked luggage, pack them next to your painting supplies and they can be passed off as art supplies if security asks.
*I travel with a full set of 1/2 oz. Stable colours. They have the type of lid with a removable red cap that you’re supposed to cut off, but I find it’s best to never cut them and simply screw off the top and they never leak. I also carry a big bottle of black ink with a twist top lid.
*Try to allow a maximum amount of time for when you get to the airport. Airports such as Bangkok can have ridiculous lines to get to passport control which means a steady bolt to catch your plane on time.
*Book your taxi in advance if you’re traveling to or from London, or on the meter will kill you. Singapore’s taxis are amazingly cheap. A lot of countries taxis will give you a flat rate to your destination if you request, ask your local friends in advance what the going rate should be.
That’s about all I can recall at this time, please holler if you have any questions, and stay tuned for further travel tips in the future. Thanks for reading!
(Sam Rulz is a traveling tattooer and blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine, and can be reached via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/samrulz?sk=wall)