Are you looking for some travel tattoo ideas but not sure where to start? Or even if you should get a tattoo? Gone are the days when tattoos were only for criminals or gangsters. With body art becoming more accepted around the world, tattoos are gaining in popularity, particularly amongst the travel community.
Getting a tattoo is a lasting way to remind yourself of how much you loved a destination, or just how much you love to travel and keep you dreaming of your next trip! In times when you aren’t able to travel (like, during a worldwide pandemic…) a travel-themed tattoo might be a way to take the edge off if you’re dying to get back to exploring the world. Or perhaps you just want to plan the ultimate souvenir for your next holiday, so that you don’t make a spur of the moment decision you’ll regret if you just walk into that tattoo parlour on the other side of the world. Just make sure you follow these tips when getting a tattoo, especially in a foreign country.
While I have a few tattoos myself, none of them are really travel-related, apart from serving as a reminder of the places where I had them done. I often see really beautiful and inspiring travel tattoos on social media, so this list of the coolest travel tattoo ideas is partly for your own inspiration but also for mine. As anyone who’s ever gotten a tattoo will tell you, once you get one, you want more!
World Map (or globe)
Some of the most popular travel tattoos are those that show the world, since that’s what we travellers love exploring! Even though they’re so popular you can still find plenty of different styles and designs to ensure you have something unique. I’d be hard-pressed to choose between having the continents flat (like the photo above) or having an actual globe, since I love those.
Another travel tattoo idea that’s hugely popular is, of course, travel quotes. This is one that’s easy to ensure yours is unique as there are so many fabulous lines to choose from, whether they’re famous quotes by well-known authors or something more obscure. Some of the most popular include “not all those who wander are lost” and “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might get swept off to”, both by J.R.R Tolkien. You don’t even need to find a good quote, you can just choose words that speak to you, like wanderlust.
Another one of my favourites, I love all the different, beautiful compass designs I’ve seen. There’s nothing like a literal compass to show your love of travel. These are often combined with other elements like world maps, airplanes and compasses, to make a really unique design.
Airplanes are an excellent travel tattoo choice if you love to fly! I particularly like that you can choose from a huge variety of different styles for your own airplane tattoo, from a tiny minimalist paper plane to a coloured version of the view from an airplane window. Airplanes added to the globe are also popular, not just for tattoos – as you can see in my blog logo!
If you love to travel by sea then an anchor is a great travel tattoo choice, while anchors can also represent your ‘safe harbour’ and home. The anchor has a long history in the art of tattooing, as sailors would often get them, and nowadays some of the designs can look pretty epic, especially if combined with a compass and/or ship or ship’s wheel as well.
Going in the opposite direction, people who love camping and exploring the green wilderness might like to mark their love with a tattoo of mountains. These designs also offer a wide variety of minimalist or incredibly detailed styles. You might even choose to have a depiction of a particular mountain that’s special to you.
Landmarks or Icons
If a mountain is special enough for a tattoo then a favourite (or home) city could definitely be as well! While I’d personally be more likely to tattoo an icon or landmark from my home country (or state or town) you might also like to get a specific building or design to commemorate a wonderful stay. Imagine getting proposed to in front of the Eiffel Tower while on holiday in Paris! I’m sure an Eiffel Tower tattoo would then make a fabulous tattoo design to always remember the moment.
If you really like to keep things minimalist, or even slightly mysterious, latitude and longitude coordinates are a great choice. Again, you can choose a location that’s important to you, but most people won’t know what the significance is unless you tell them. They look very classy as well.
Animal-lovers who also like to travel might choose to have an animal that symbolises travel as their tattoo, or perhaps you might get one to commemorate an incredible animal experience you had while travelling. Elephants are popular to see while travelling, while they also symbolise good luck and protection, perfect for having with you while seeing the world! Similarly, horses are popular tattoos as they symbolise freedom, travel, endurance and determination. Turtles are similarly popular and since they carry their ‘house’ on their backs, a good choice for those living a nomadic lifestyle. You might even like to get a tattoo representing a character from one of these animal travel books….
Another good choice if you want a small and tasteful travel tattoo might be to choose a constellation that has meaning to you. The North Star or Big Dipper are popular, as they can help you to find your way. Of course, people from different hemispheres will have different constellations, in Australia it’s actually so popular to have a tattoo of the Southern Cross that it’s almost too popular now. I remember seeing a popular Facebook page called “not having a Southern Cross tattoo”!
This is the only travel tattoo idea that I’d suggest with the caveat of using caution to ensure you’re not just appropriating another culture. If you are actually Buddhist then a Buddha tattoo done in a majority Buddhist country might be a wonderful souvenir. But do make sure you do your research if you are planning on having a ‘tribal’ tattoo or getting a traditional Sak Yant tattoo (not just for hygiene purposes) to make sure you’re being respectful of the local culture and beliefs surrounding particular designs.
Do you have any cool travel tattoos that I haven’t included on this list? Let me know in the comments or pin one of these if you’re planning your own travel-themed tattoo!