Countries Where Tattoos are Taboo

If you’ve got ink, chances are you love to show it off.

I don’t blame you. I have eight tattoos so far and no plans to stop anytime soon.

But there are times when I’m traveling that I am hyperaware of my body art. There are still several countries where tattoos are taboo. While you might get some slack as a tourist, it is important to be mindful of your destination’s culture.

The forearms of my husband and I who have matching Timon and Pumbaa tattoos. There are still countries where tattoos are taboo that we visit and have to be cognizant of.
My Timon forearm tattoo (on the left) tends to get noticed when I go abroad. It’s important to know which countries see tattoos as taboo.

Also, just be aware that your art might be really fascinating to folks wherever you go. I have a few tattoos of cartoon characters and tend to get some stares when I go abroad. It can be fun to have strangers admire your ink, just make sure you’re respecting their cultural differences. Be sure to do a bit of research before you fly to avoid uncomfortable situations.

To help you get started, here are some countries where tattoos are still taboo:

Iran

Tattoos are not illegal in Iran, despite the popular rumor you can find through a simple Google search. Culturally, however, tattoos are still widely seen as a symptom of Westernization and therefore are frowned upon. They are also not forbidden, or “haram”, by Islamic law unless they show obscene imagery–so just be mindful of what tattoos you have that are visible.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Though not expressly forbidden by religious law in Iran, they are seen as a violation of Islamic beliefs in UAE. It is believed that tattoos are an act of self harm, so ink is not viewed favorably at all.

Turkey

Like UAE and Iran, tattoos are frowned upon for religious reasons in Turkey. Again, it is not illegal to have tattoos despite popular internet myths. Just be mindful of what you have tattooed (is it obscene or vulgar?) to consider if you should cover them while visiting Turkey.

Japan

Despite its storied history of tattoo art, Japan still has a complicated relationship with body art. Gangs utilize tattoos to distinguish members and criminals used to be marked with tattoos to symbolize their criminality so everyone would know their place. These connections to the history of tattoos in Japan caused certain public places like pools and public baths to have tattoo policies.

Just know where you are going if you’re in Japan so you can be prepared to cover up if necessary.

China

China has a similar history with tattoos as Japan where ink symbolizes organized crime. You’ll notice significant cultural differences between rural and urban parts of China which will also impact how your tattoos are perceived. In more Westernized cities like Beijing and Shanghai people will likely be more accepting of visible ink, at least that was my experience.

Vietnam

In the same vein as Japan and China, tattoos have a history of gang and criminal association in Vietnam. Be aware of your visible ink while traveling in the more rural areas. Again, like China, urban areas tend to be more accepting of the aesthetic of tattoo culture.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka it isn’t so much an issue of having a tattoo, it’s more an issue of what you have tattooed. If you have any Buddhist imagery ink, cover it. Buddhist tattoos are offensive to the people of Sri Lanka, so cover up or you might get arrested like a British nurse did in 2014.

Zoëtry Paraíso Protects Its Paradise

Riviera Maya is a lush destination with shimmering ocean views, thick forests, and precious reefs. Mexican environmental laws go above and beyond those of the United States to protect ecosystems such as Lake Bacalar, the world’s largest freshwater bacterial reef, known for its splendid colors. While some hotel companies try to build resorts along beaches that would threaten one of the largest sea turtle nesting places on the Yucatan Peninsula, others likeZoëtry Paraíso are doing what they can to protect the precious ecosystems around them. 

Luckily, some hotels are serious about their ecological impacts. Like, Zoëtry Paraíso de la Bonita, which has a keen eye on even the smallest of details. Whether it means catering to one of the guests in the 100 room boutique hotel or being careful not to disturb the natural white-nosed coati that call the property home, Zoëtry Paraíso protects its paradise.

The pier into the ocean at Zoëtry Paraíso which protects its paradise.
Photo by Tori Lantz

Art activism

Throughout the resort is the artwork of resident artist Luis Sottil who articulates the beauty of animals through his paintings. Some of Sottil’s paintings were created to honor the ecosystems around Mexico, like one mural in The Impressions Club of the lionfish. The lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, started appearing off of Florida shores in the 80s. Since then, the fish have been invading ecosystems and wreaking havoc.

Former Zoëtry Paraíso social media coordinator Arturo Alcalá reported in 2019 that the mural of the lionfish is to spotlight how difficult it has been for the environment to recover. 

“[The lionfish] destroyed a lot of aquariums, so they [went] in the ocean,” he said. “And, because these kinds of fishes [are] coming from Australia, they don’t have the predators. So they became a plague. The local chefs are doing programs to start consuming them to make a balance in our local environment.” 

One of the gorgeous pools surrounded by palm trees at Zoëtry Paraíso which protects its paradise.
Photo by Tori Lantz

Spotting coati

Being in tune with the environment is one reason why guests often a variety of wildlife throughout their stay at Zoëtry Paraíso. Whether it’s a band of coati looking for snacks by the tennis court or a fabulous peacock perfectly perched on a balcony, the wild inhabitants coexist with resort residents. 

Staff said that, when the tennis courts were built, the builders were aware it was near where the coati regularly nest. Rather than building on top of their nests, they were placed nearby to avoid relocating the band. So, as long as visitors don’t mind a dozen little critters watching them play tennis, the coati live in harmony and sometimes dine on an abandoned plate of fruit. 

One way Zoëtry Paraíso is trying to leave a smaller footprint is by building their own water treatment facility. By opening their facility, on-site visitors can enjoy non-bottled water to reduce plastic use without concern of contamination. Additionally, the hotel is using bamboo grown on the property to develop environmentally-friendly straws. Both initiatives are an effort to protect the Earth while still giving visitors world-class service. 

The beachside at Zoëtry Paraíso which protects its paradise.
Photo by Tori Lantz

Rainforest Alliance

In an attempt to eliminate single-use plastic from the resort, Zoëtry Paraíso’s environmental protections go even further as they’ve implemented several initiatives through the years. They’re even Rainforest Alliance Certified because of their efforts which include: 

  • Waste recycling program for glass, paper, cardboard, PET, aluminum, etc.
  • Toner and battery recycling program
  • Reduction in detergent consumption through laundry equipment replacement
  • Compost program
  • Pesticide-free greenhouse garden for organic plants and local reforestation
  • Lowering electric consumption at peak hours 
  • Reducing our diesel consumption by more than 50%
  • Ecological tour with flora and fauna preservation
  • Local flora and fauna protection as well as an awareness program for guests and staff
  • The annual observance of Planet Hour and Earth Day
  • Supporting the Mayan community with the purchase of handmade beach bags
  • Beach cleanup campaigns every 15 days
  • Coral reef and sea turtle protection programs

While modern-day conveniences may make aspects of life easier, they’re often at the detriment of the wider world. Zoëtry Paraíso is a place where those detriments don’t have to exist and the staff is dedicated to bringing the world and the wild together. So, while celebrities like Cynthia Nixon and Richard Gere are past visitors to the resort, celebrity appeal does not get in the way of environmentalism. 

After all, who said luxury and eco-friendly can’t be collaborators? 

The Perfect Disney Bra

No matter how old I get, I will never stop loving Disney. 

When I first went to Disney World I was 20-years-old. I was immediately taken aback by the magic, joy and wonderment. But trips to Disney aren’t all Mickey waffles and churros. There is some serious packing, planning, and executing that need to be done to ensure that you have the most magical time. 

My biggest advice? 

Plan your pack. Know the weather ahead of time (spoiler alert: it will probably rain at least once, so bring a poncho), but also know yourself. Are you someone who gets too hot? Who packs too much? Who isn’t comfortable in the same clothes for long periods of time? 

I am all of those kinds of people.

While my packing skills are much improved, (because otherwise I wouldn’t have room for souvenirs) I still struggle with what to wear on park days. I’m not a Pinterest park model, but I won’t schlep around in just any Disney shirts either. That said, no matter what I’m wearing at Disney, I need my Vai Athletica utility bra. 

Vai Athletica

The perfect Disney bra is definitely Vai Athletica. The model in the photo is a Black woman wearing the dusty rose utility bra from Vai Athletica.
Photo from Vai Athletica.

Vai Athletica bras, with their many pockets, are essential for a successful park day. Whether you’re someone who wears pants, dresses or someone who rarely has access to pockets of any kind, you’re going to thank me. Especially in tank top weather, the easy access side pockets are so handy for taking photos of the castle. Especially while hustling over to Pirates of the Caribbean before the wait time gets longer. 

Even if I go to the parks 100 times I will always have more things to take pictures of or just need to check showtimes. So my phone is my best park friend while my utility bra is my right hand.

It might look a little silly to be pulling a phone out from near my underarm or my shoulders. I’m okay with that. Being a little silly while being at Disney is an added bonus, right?

The next time you head to Orlando, Anaheim, Tokyo, Paris or any of the other Disney parks, make sure you pack a Vai utility bra for those long days.

You might want to store your annual pass in a secret side pocket so you never miss out on those AP discounts throughout the parks. (10% at some food locations, 20% merchandise and 20% at Joffrey’s because coffee is my everything.) 

If you’ve got both hands free you have double the space for Mickey pretzels. And that’s a compromise I’m always willing to make. 

See you real soon!

Women’s Minimalist Packing List

As we see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, some folks might be planning future adventures. As we head back out into the world, things have changed and how we pack needs to change as well. Whether, like me, you’re a hand sanitizer user for life or you’re just looking for more ways to stay fierce at home or abroad, here are some recommendations for a women’s minimalist packing list

Buddha Pants

Flowery jumpsuit from Buddha Pants to ad to your packing list.
Photo from Buddha Pants

I am an absolute jumpsuit convert. Before the pandemic, I was several pounds lighter and never liked the idea of jumpsuits or rompers because they didn’t fit my short, curvy body. Enter Buddha Pants. Their clothes are made for a variety of bodies, they’re comfy and they fold up to fit into their own pocket! This eco-friendly company needs to be on radars everywhere–you won’t regret it. 

No Knot Jewelry Holder

A no-knot jewelry holder with cherry blossoms to add to your packing list.
Photo from No Knot

I’ve never been great at remembering to pack jewelry. When I do bring jewelry, however, I end up not wearing them because they’re tangled up. Travel jewelry holders are usually bulky and a pain to pack, but the No Knot holder is amazing. A petite, roll-up fabric holder makes the nightmare of untangling jewelry at a hotel a thing of the past. Plus you can’t beat the adorable patterns!

Nakie Hammocks

A turquoise hammock from Nakie Hammocks.
Photo from Nakie Hammock

Now that so many of us have become closer to the nature we need to love and protect, Nakie Hammocks are the best accessory to enjoy the outdoors. Not only do they plant 4 trees for purchase, but each hammock is made from approximately 37 recycled bottles. You can relax knowing that you chose to protect Mother Earth which should make your relaxation all the more joyous. 

Urban Undercover

A super comfortable grey travel wrap from Urban Undercover to add to your packing list.
Photo from Urban Undercover

Wanderlusters know better than anyone how important it is to find clothes that are comfy, durable, versatile, and pack well. Urban Undercover has you covered. Not only are their pieces wrinkle-resistant, but they’re also wearable in several ways (particularly the travel wrap) and eco-friendly. The wrap, for example, is made of ultra-sustainable bamboo which is easier to maintain and grow than its cotton counterpart. I am obsessed with my Urban Undercover travel wrap. Plus it’s perfect for women’s minimalist packing lists because it’s so functional!

Honeylove

A black Honeylove shapewear.
Photo from Honeylove

Shapewear is the bane of my existence. I’ve never enjoyed wearing it, I don’t like supporting the idea that any of us are “imperfect.” But I also am a woman with curves, I need something on my legs to protect myself from the dreaded “chub rub.” After discovering Honeylove I don’t hold a grudge against shapewear anymore. Their pieces are comfy, supportive and the company is all about body positivity. There are more inclusive sizes with Honeylove than other shapewear companies and they come in a variety of shades. Enjoy the freedom to wear what you like and love what you wear with these easily packable shape pieces. 

Airplane Pocket

A hygienic Airplane Pocket on the back of a plane seat.
Photo from Airplane Pocket

My mama taught me to wipe down tray tables long before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. It’s a habit I’ll continue long after we resume a sense of normalcy. Airplane cleanliness is something I’m always suspicious of and Airplane Pockets make it safer, more ecological, and hygienic to use your tray tables in the sky. The pocket fits right over your tray table, has tons of pockets for storage and easy access, and (when you’re done with your adventure) you can toss the pocket in with your laundry. These functional pieces are a must-have for fellow airplane germ hunters like myself. 

Lavley

Cozy camping themed Lavley socks to add to your packing list.
Photo from Lavley

Whether you’re packing for your next getaway right now or just dreaming up a new globetrotting adventure, Lavley has something for you. Lavley carries socks for all kinds of different people. These cozy, cute socks are just what you need whether you’re in Bali or your backyard. Their socks are durable, comfy, and ready to go with you wherever–even if it’s just to the fridge and back.