Can You Fly After Getting A Tattoo?

Can You Fly After Getting A Tattoo?

Flying and Traveling After Getting a Tattoo

Taking care of your new tattoo should be the same no matter where you are, right? Yes and no. The basics of tattoo aftercare, like keeping your new tattoo clean and moisturized, still stand. But flying changes the game. It's a different story when you spend hours in an airplane cabin that鈥檚 dry and full of contaminants. Wherever you鈥檙e headed, Hustle Butter has your back with aftercare products and tips to keep your new tattoo looking good and your skin feeling great.

Before You Board: Pre-Flight Tattoo Care

First, try to schedule your flight at least 36 hours from when you鈥檙e getting a new tattoo. Your new tattoo, like any wound, is vulnerable to infection, especially when you spend hours on a plane. If you can swing it, wait at least a day and a half before boarding a plane.

Before you leave the shop, talk to your tattoo artist. Not only did they create an amazing piece of art for you, but they are also experts in preserving that masterpiece. Your artist will have specific aftercare instructions for how to keep your skin clean and moisturized if you鈥檙e taking a long flight. Your artist can help with tips and tricks to minimize the risks associated with traveling after your appointment. They know their process, and your skin鈥檚 needs, better than anyone and can help make sure you鈥檙e set up for success while en route to your next destination.

What to Do After You Get a New Tattoo: The First 36 Hours

If you just got a new tattoo, this is what you need to do in those first 36 hours before your flight.

  • Keep it clean: In most cases, your artist will recommend washing the area. Gently wash the tattooed area two to three times daily, or as instructed by your artist, with antibacterial soap and water.
  • Avoid hot water when washing: Use warm water instead.
  • Dry the tattoo after cleaning: Pat dry with a clean paper towel after each cleaning. Bath towels and cloths tend to leave behind microfibers.
  • Moisturize regularly: Moisturize your tattoo regularly with a high-quality moisturizer, preferably twice daily (or as recommended by your artist). This is not only important throughout the healing process, but forever after for tattoo maintenance. You can use a reliable moisturizer, such as Hustle Butter's Tattoo Balm, to keep the area nourished and vibrant.
  • Follow your artist鈥檚 instructions: If your artist gave you any other specific instructions, be sure to follow them.

These tips are just a snapshot of the full aftercare regimen. For a total rundown of what you should be doing post-tattoo, check out our complete tattoo aftercare guide for basic tips and information about what you can expect in the first few weeks after getting tattooed.

Hustle Butter - Tattoo Balm

Traveling With a Brand New Tattoo

Here are a few things you need to know about traveling with a fresh tattoo:

  • No swimming (Seriously!): Don鈥檛 swim with a new tattoo until after the tattoo heals - usually at least 2 to 4 weeks after your appointment. Both chlorine and salt water can leach ink from your tattoo, making it less vibrant. Swimming can also increase the risk of infection.
  • Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can thin your blood, causing excessive bleeding. This is especially important if you just got a tattoo within the past two days since alcohol can make it harder for your skin to scab (which is a normal part of the tattoo healing process). Plus, alcohol can cause inflammation and dehydrate you, both of which will irritate your skin. Always follow your artist鈥檚 instructions - they can let you know a more precise timeline for your specific work.
  • Try not to sweat: Sweat building up on your skin can attract bacteria that could infect your new tattoo. Wherever possible, try to avoid sweating. Wear loose clothes on your flight and throughout your trip. This doesn鈥檛 just keep you comfortable on your flight, it can keep the air circulating around your tattoo, too.
  • Take it easy on the exercise: If you usually work out during trips, take a break if you've just gotten a new tattoo. Exercise causes sweating, and using gym equipment touched by many others increases your risk of exposure to bacteria.

With those basics down, let鈥檚 take a deep dive into your game plan before and after you land.

Up in the Air: Taking Care of Your Fresh Tattoo During the Flight

First off, let鈥檚 talk about reducing the risk of infection. Keeping your tattoo clean is key in the air or on the ground, so before boarding, clean the area as best as you can with a mild soap. It鈥檚 that simple: clean tattoo = lower risk of infection.

Now, that dry cabin air - it鈥檚 a real skin killer. Hydration is your MVP here. Drink as much water as you can to keep you hydrated from the inside out. And if you鈥檙e in the air longer than 4-5 hours (or as your artist instructs), apply some moisturizer to keep the area nourished.

If you鈥檙e worried about oozing and scabs, just remember that鈥檚 totally normal during the healing process. If approved or instructed by your artist, use a breathable, non-stick wrap bandage to cover your tattoo. Then, try to avoid touching the tattooed area unless you鈥檙e changing that wrap. If you do have to touch your new tattoo or the skin around it, just be sure to wash your hands really well before you put on that wrap.

Touchdown: Post-Flight Care for New Tattoos

Once you land, get yourself settled and check out your tattoo, especially if it鈥檚 been under a wrap or film for most of your flight. Wash the area again when you are in a clean environment, and be sure to continue to give the new artwork extra TLC when it comes to moisturization. A dry cabin, and a long day of travel, can wreak havoc on a new piece, so be sure to treat it with attention and care.

If you notice any signs of infections, such as intense redness or swelling, do not hesitate to contact a doctor or your artist. The sooner you call, the better.

Tattoos Across Climates: Healing in Diverse Environments

The healing process can be tricky to navigate if you鈥檙e in a climate you鈥檙e not familiar with. Be sure to plan ahead, and talk to your artist in advance, if you鈥檙e healing in an environment you鈥檙e not used to. Your artist may recommend you cleanse or hydrate even more often to protect your skin and artwork from the elements. Your artist can also help you find the right products for your skin - wherever you are traveling to.

Flying With a Healed or Older Tattoo

If you鈥檝e had your tattoo for a while and it is healed and in good shape - your priorities may be different. It is still important to review these basics to help reduce dirt, germs, and bacteria while traveling.

While your risk of infection is lower, these tips and tricks are just good habits for artwork new or old -

  • Stay Hydrated: Since airplane cabins tend to be dry, stay hydrated and be sure to drink water at least once per hour while you鈥檙e up in the air. Even if you don鈥檛 have a fresh tattoo, it鈥檚 still recommended to avoid alcohol on your flight. Alcohol can leave you and your skin more dehydrated.
  • Wear comfortable clothes: Even if your tattoo is usually covered by clothing, it鈥檚 still a good idea to wear a comfortable, breathable outfit when you鈥檙e flying. Wearing loose, breathable outfits can keep your skin from feeling irritated.
  • Avoid Scratching: If your tattoo is itchy during your flight, try not to scratch it. There鈥檚 a good chance you鈥檙e dehydrated. So, drink up and apply moisturizer (ideally formulated specifically for tattooed skin!) if your skin feels too dry.

Packing Essentials: What to Bring for Long-Term Tattoo Aftercare

If you鈥檙e traveling with an older or healed tattoo, these are some great supplies to have on hand.


Consider this your skin鈥檚 best friend up in the air and throughout your trip, especially if you鈥檙e going to be swimming with an older tattoo or spending time in the sun. We鈥檙e not talking about any old moisturizer. You want a moisturizer that keeps your skin nourished without irritating your tattoo or causing it to dry out. For an on-the-go option, consider using Hustle Butter's Revitalizing Stick.

Hustle Butter Daily Lotion

Broad-Spectrum SPF Sunscreen

Sun protection isn鈥檛 just something you need to worry about at the beach. Those plane windows let in a lot more UV rays than you鈥檇 think. Broad-spectrum SPF is great for shielding healed tattoos from fading no matter where you鈥檙e seated. Think of it as armor for your body art. We always recommend applying SPF daily, no matter the season or where you live. Your skin and art will thank you. And if you're traveling somewhere sunny, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and reapply throughout the day. The sun can quickly fade tattoos, and nobody wants that.

Travel-Size Tattoo Cream

You can get pretty much anything TSA travel-size these days, but it can get tricky when you have specialty stuff you want to take with you, like tattoo balm or aftercare products. That鈥檚 where a product like our travel-size Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Bam comes in handy. It鈥檚 certified vegan, made with naturally-derived ingredients, and can keep your new tattoo hydrated. Or if you have an older tattoo, Hustle Butter Deluxe can keep it looking fresh and vibrant while also providing that much-needed deep moisture to the skin.

Have a Nice Trip!

Wherever you鈥檙e headed, keeping your new tattoo nourished starts with smart aftercare. Remember these tips: get tattooed with enough time to heal a little first, plan in advance with your artist, pack your essentials, and be on the lookout for any signs of infection or fading and blurring once you land.

Looking for more tips? Check out the rest of our blog for all things tattoo aftercare.