For as long as I can remember tattoos have fascinated me; from the skill of the tattoo artist to the meaning behind them. Tattoos are important to certain cultures and there’s a long history of body marking going back thousands of years. I knew I wanted a tattoo since I was a teenager but wasn’t sure what to get. I wanted it to mean something to me and not something I’d regret. Well I definitely took my time and I got my first tattoo two years ago. I now have two tattoos and I can honestly say I love both of them. No regrets ☺ But I have yet to get a travel tattoo. With my fascination of tattoos and my love for travel I thought it would be perfect to write a post about people’s travel tattoo stories, whether it was to remember their time in a particular country or to bring a loved one with them in tattoo form on their travels. Here are their stories.
Gemma from Two Scots Abroad
Hot damn! Have you seen the Canadian Rockies? For those lucky enough to experience the jagged mountains with snow tips surrounded by turquoise lakes you will understand why I had to get Banff, inked on my arm! I already had quite a few works of art on my body but whilst in Leon, Nicaragua (six months later) a British expat tattooist was recommended to us. We checked him out and were given the price of $60. We spent eight hours in the studio with the tattooist, approximately five hours was spent on me. $60 for five hours! Well worth it I think you’ll agree…
Christian from Unusual Traveler
I got my travel tattoos on my feet done it my home city in Norway, it´s a small map over Europe and a compass that´s always pointing north home to Norway so I can always find my way back home. I have been stopped numerous times by the police while traveling over the years, asking me where I’m going and what I’m doing here, and they don’t really find it funny when I tell them, I have no idea where I’m going but I got a map and compass on me that I follow.
Carly from Girl Out Of Bounds
I got my travel tattoo in Thailand, mostly on a whim. I knew I’d leave the country with at least one tattoo, but didn’t suspect I’d leave with a Buddhist “unalome” on my wrist. This tattoo represents my life. The swirls and loops are a reminder that my life is not lived in a straight line and no matter how off course things get, I always come out on the other side a stronger person.
Sarah from Paper Ink and Passports
My travel tattoo is a world map that goes around my left wrist. It’s quite large and but it’s just an outline so it’s not overpowering ☺ I got it for two reasons… the first is that I collect maps and globes – I love them, I think they are so interesting, especially if you find the ones from the mid 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s when borders were constantly shifting. The second reason for my tattoo is that I love travel. Plain and simple, my tattoo is everywhere I have been and everywhere I want to go. I love anything to do with travel… talking about it, reading about it, writing about it, learning about the world… meeting people from around the world, I could go on and on and on about how much I love traveling. I love our world and that’s why I got this tattoo.
Hannah from Getting Stamped
A week before our trip around the world it was making me sick thinking about not seeing my kitty cat Tinkerbell every day. I decided to bring her with me on my travels around the world by getting a tattoo of her on my side! Now no matter where in the world I am I see her and she’s always with me. If you ask me she’s probably one of the most well-traveled cats in the world!
Enni from Denia Hania
For a long time, I had been dreaming of a tattoo of something that makes me go through even the dullest Mondays, TRAVEL. It was all clear to me what I’d get and as it was my first tattoo ever, I decided to go with a simple and small tattoo of outlines of an airplane. I wanted to get the tattoo to my inner arm so that it would always remind me of my dream to travel the world and work towards my dreams. It also symbolizes my growing process as a person and that I will always remember I have a freedom to choose which way to go in my life. It has become a part of me and I couldn’t imagine my arm without it anymore!
Tatiana from Efzin – A Blissful Life
I always wanted to get a tattoo, maybe some of them. But the design had changed so many times throughout the years. But when the time came, I knew it. I was living in Vienna and sure that I had to get a tattoo that transpired my biggest passion: to travel, to live abroad, to be all over the place. I decided about a very minimalist outline of a world map, and the next week I was having it done. It was by an artist, friend of a friend, in Nis, Serbia. The second photo was taken at the Lock Ness, in Scotland.
Leonie from Lo On The Go
I got a tattoo in Thailand this year. Its a simple tattoo of a wave. This means a lot to me as I am a great lover of the ocean, scuba diving and marine life and I wanted something simple but meaningful to represent my love and passion. This was done my bamboo in Koh Tao while I was there diving. I must say I was a little bit tipsy when I got the Tattoo done. Asking it to be smaller then I actually wanted it to be (better then it being to big guess).
Laura Jane from Anything But Marzipan
Emily from Emily Luxton Travels
I got my tattoo in Lima, Peru at a tattoo show on the roof terrace of Periwana Hostel. I’d been vaguely considering getting a pterodactyl on my wrist for a few months, and when the hostel staff came looking for volunteers to go first I decided it was fate! My pterodactyl is for my mum, who passed away when I was 18. Her favourite movie was Jurassic Park, and it’s one of the things that reminds me of her most. So, the tattoo has a really deep meaning for me and it’s one that’s not immediately obvious to other people. But, because of where I got the tattoo, it also reminds me of one of best and happiest times of my life; my first proper backpacking trip and the real start of my career as a travel blogger. It took a lot of guts (and a few pisco sours) to sit in front of a crowd of strangers and get a tattoo, and ever since then when I’m feeling scared to do something, I give my tattoo a quick glance to remind myself of all the brave things I’ve done since! It acts a a sort of talisman, in a way, and because of that I love it despite the fact that it’s actually not a very good tattoo. It’s slightly wonky, the colouring is bad, and most people mistake it for a bat, but I don’t care; it’s got such an important meaning to me that I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Tara from For The Love Of Travel
I have two tattoos I got abroad- one in Rome and one in Milan. The first is a heart on my wrist I did on a whim in Rome one day after day drinking wine haha. I went with two friends who knew what they wanted and I was fretting about what I should get and which of my parents I should get it for. I ended up getting it for myself and it represents self love and acceptance. The funny thing is the tattoo artist screwed it up so one side is much fatter than the other. It’s not perfect but I love it anyway, just like me. The other tattoo is an olive branch on my rib cage I got with my Italian host sister ( I did foreign exchange in high school). She got a similar design on the opposite rib cage so when joined, they form a tree. The olive branch is also a symbol of the region I lived in, Puglia, Italy.
Tia from Black Winter
In the winter of 2005, I moved to Adana, Turkey. Adana resides in the southeastern region of the country (Anatolia), in Eurasia. It’s a fabulous city along the Mediterranean and the fourth largest in the country. A place I would highly recommend when it becomes more stable. At the time, we had been involved in the Iraq War a mere 3 years since 9/11, so there was quite a bit of unrest in the Middle East. Everyone was on high alert, with good reason. We didn’t know it at the time but six months later the Israel-Hezbollah war would break out in Lebanon leaving thousands of ex-pats stranded in the middle of conflict as the city of Beirut can tumbling down. But that’s a story for another time…
December in Turkey was bitterly and unseasonably cold and the tensions made everything that much chillier. Americans were warned not to be out after midnight for fear of kidnapping and to watch our surroundings at all times because active bombings were occurring in the area. We were even placed on evening curfews that didn’t lift until after sunrise. At nighttime, the city was lit up like a Christmas tree and the Turkish military patrolled the streets. By the end of my third week, I realized that I hadn’t seen a single star since I landed. The light pollution from the watchtowers had hampered my view of starlight over the some of the most beautiful landscapes. It kind of bummed me out because, through all of my travels and adventures, the sky was the one thing that was always consistent and kept me connected to my loved ones. There is the moon, stars and sometimes a meteor or two and that never changes. My best friend Cassie and I promptly found a tattoo artist in the alley the following day and I had him tattoo a blue star on the inside of my left wrist. I wanted to mark myself with memories from such an intense time in my life but also wanted to make sure that if I ever ended under the night sky without a star in sight I could raise my arm and place one there. (Also, blue stars burn the brightest!) It’s not perfect, but a tattoo from a strange man in an alley shop rarely is. (I’m just thankful I haven’t had to have anything amputated) But it’s gotten me through 21 countries, 27 states and counting. It’s my favorite tattoo that I have.
Thank you so much to my contributors! I hope you enjoyed reading those wonderful stories and be sure check these travel enthusiasts out! Do you have any travel tattoos? Let me know!