Ink-redible Travel Blogger Tattoos + The Meaning Behind Them
Please don’t judge me for this travel blogger tattoos title (which is about as pun-tastic as that from my Taxco day trip post), but I couldn’t help myself. I’m sorry. Can I live?
With my last few months in Mexico looming, I’ve been getting itchy feet for a new travel inspired tattoo (hello, maguey plant!) and I’ve already begun plotting all the potential tattoos I wanna get in South America later this year too, much to my boyfriend’s dismay. (Because, nothing says you’re worldly and cultured like an über cool travel tattoo, right? Preferably with a suitably intriguing back story behind it.)
However, I’m also wildly indecisive and knew I needed some inspiration. So, what better way than by ogling other equally awesome (you could say ink-redible) travel blogger tattoos? (Spoiler alert, this post was just a covert way to get some awesome tattoo ideas for my next tattoo. Sorry gals.)
LAUREN FROM, WELL, NORTHERN LAUREN
My very own travel tattoo was my first, but not my last, and although it’s in dire need of touching up now (four years out from getting it in Cardiff, during my second year of university), I still love what it means. This teeny weeny outline of a paper aeroplane on my ankle may not be super original (in fact another girl further on in this post has a much better one than mine, ugh tattoo envy!), but it does combine the two things I knew I loved and wanted to do forever – travel and write.
My second tattoo isn’t specifically travel related, but I got it during my year in Guadalajara so it will always remind me of being in that place, at that time, even though I ummed and aahed about getting it for aaaages before I actually bit the proverbial bullet. In fact, I think I actually spent most of my first year at uni with it drawn on my wrist in Sharpie.
However, and on a kind of related tangent, just as I sat down to write up this post (I’ve been procrastinating), I was reminded of an almost travel tattoo near miss I had on holiday in Salou, Spain back in 2014 while on Tour (lads, lads, lads) with some friends from uni. All I’m going to say is that not all travel tattoo ideas are good ones, OK?! If you stick around to the end of the post I’ll tell you why.
ANEESHA FROM OM NOM NIRVANA
My tattoo is a ‘compass mandala’ that I got when I was living and working in Malaysia. It’s a henna inspired mandala design. The compass, or nautical, star detail I added is my effort to navigate through the universe, to conquer it and make it my own.
STINA FROM SZ CREATIVE TRAVELS
I have five travel-inspired tattoos. The green stamp on my wrist is the emblem for the summer camp I worked at in Pennsylvania. I first heard about Camp America while I was studying childcare at college in the UK and I wanted a way to spend my summer, far away from my ex-boyfriend. Camp almost instantly became a second home for me and I made hundreds of friendships that have spanned twelve years and too many countries to count, opening so many doors in my life and literally gave me places to stay all over the world. I got this tattoo to remind myself of all the love and laughter I experienced over the three summers I spent there and also as a reminder to just go, take a decision and go!
My second and third tattoos are ‘Me Dar Um Cantinho’ and a watercolour atlas below. The first is a Brazilian saying that translates as ‘give me a little corner’, which, as soon as I read the words, in Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love), they just resonated with me. Wherever I am in the world, I just need a little corner that’s mine, safe and calm – a little piece of me.
When I was 25 I took a gap year, spending four months volunteering at an animal sanctuary in Florida. Blizzard was our white tiger, who as a cub had been beaten with a baseball bat to ‘keep him from being aggressive’. Can you imagine?! Every morning when I walked by his enclosure he would walk next to me and the fact that a creature who had suffered so much at the hands of a man could come to love filled my heart with so much joy. I learnt so much from him, and I love this tattoo, a way for me to carry him and his wisdom wherever I go.
My fifth is a California bear, hugging the state with state flag colours, Yosemite & state flowers. I spent a number of years living in California, where I learnt to love the outdoors even more and find value in carving my own path and finding my feet. Yosemite became like home to me and California will always be carved in my heart, and my skin. In fact, I road tripped a lot and worked closely with the artist to design this tattoo which I got just before I left California at the end of last year.
I’m not done yet and I love the tattoos I have that tell a part of my story. After spending time in Patagonia earlier this year, I plan to have the Fitz Roy Range tattooed on me, and now that I am in Canada learning to be a dog sled guide I will design a tattoo to represent that too.
MIRANDA FROM MIRANDA KNUDTSON
My travel related tattoo is my 5th tattoo which I got shortly after my 21st birthday. I’ve always loved travelling, as I grew up travelling with my family across the United States. I chose this angle because I wanted to include my home country, the United States, and a majority of the other continents. (Sorry Asia, once 3D tattoos are available, I’ll include you too!) I added the word, ‘Adventure’ above because I believe anything can be an adventure, if you so choose. Traveling solo to the Amazon rainforest? Adventure! Driving to a new city that’s only an hour away, during which time you somehow get lost and your GPS doesn’t work? Adventure! And yes, I have made an adventure out of getting lost: a two-hour drive with my mother to Madison, Wisconsin, during which we got lost driving there and back, and ‘losing’ our parked car in the downtown area. After cussing for half the trip, we definitely laugh at it now! Needless to say, I’ve always been up for any ‘adventure’, even if it fails miserably. After all, they all make for great stories later!
(Editor’s note: Yessss, this girl gets it! The best part of things going wrong is the anecdotes you’ll be able to trot out afterwards.)
JENNIFER FROM DISCOVERING LEGACIES
When I first thought about a new tattoo, I knew it had to have something to do with travel. I found the idea online and was certain that I really wanted that design to be on my body for the rest of my life. People jokingly ask: ‘do you get lost easily?’, ‘do you have trouble with directions?’, or ‘where does the arrow point to?’ And even though the tattoo is on my upper thigh, no, the arrow does not point to my va-jay-jay -.- Yikes. It actually points to Southwest as in Southwest Germany – where I was born and raised – and Southwest California, which I now call home. The compass is surrounded by my favourite Maya Angelou quote: ‘Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.’
NEHA FROM TRIPP INDIAN
While I was backpacking in Europe I had this sudden urge to get inked with something that really defined me. I was in Amsterdam and, of course, stoned after two blunts. I knew I wanted to get a travel tattoo, but what exactly? Even though my thinking capacity was slow as a turtle, I managed to find a word whose meaning precisely defined how I felt; fernweh, an ache for distant places, a craving for travel.
ELEONORE FROM ELEONORE EVERYWHERE
My father is American and my mother is German. When I was little I once asked them what their favourite word in German is. I can’t remember what my mother told me, but I remember my father told me he loved the word wanderlust. Having the vocabulary of a seven-year-old I had no idea what the word meant. My father is a man of beautiful words though, so he went on to describe the word in the most poetic way, that I certainly can’t do justice to now many years later. He essentially told me that wanderlust is a feeling or desire, not to go anywhere in particular, but to just keep moving and experiencing the world around you. It’s a feeling of freedom, wonderment and adventure. Even then, at the age of seven, this explanation left me wide-eyed. It was something children feel everyday as they experience the world around them, and it’s a feeling that I want to follow me throughout adulthood.
At 22 I impulsively tattooed wanderlust on my wrist during a sweltering summer day in Baltimore, Maryland. Many people said to me then, the feeling will subside and you’ll soon settle down so why would you get a permanent tattoo of that. But even now, a little over 7 years later, I still feel that same impulsive draw to travel and my restless feet have kept me wandering all over the world. And even if I do ‘settle’ (whatever that means!) I hope wanderlust is something I keep throughout adulthood – a sense of freedom and adventure, the excitement and desire to chase and experience new places, pretty views and a whole lot of lost-ness, whether it’s far away or in my own backyard.
NICOLE FROM LOST IN THIS WHOLE WORLD
My tattoo is both travel and country music related. I am a big country music fan and went to Vegas last year for Route 91 Harvest Festival at the end of the Strip. It was as amazing as you’d expect – the sun setting over Luxor while music was blasting from Main Stage is something I’ll always remember. The lyrics on my tattoo are from Kacey Musgraves’ song ‘Follow Your Arrow’, the premise of which is to just be yourself, do what you want to do and don’t worry about other people – just follow your arrow wherever it points. This resonates with me because sometimes in life we stray from the path of being ourselves, get too caught up in other peoples’ agendas or even just get a little bit lost along the way. Travelling is a big part of me. I am extremely lucky that my parents love travelling so they took me and my brother away for long trips over our summer holidays to places like Australia, South Africa and South America. It shaped me into the person I am today and this tattoo is a reminder to keep following my arrow, being myself and exploring new places.
OCEANA FROM MAPS AND MANDALAS
Wanderlust. The idea of getting my love of the road inked permanently on my skin did appeal to me. Then I did my first extended trip and realised I wasn’t alone. Many of the travellers I met also had that wanderlust tattoo, and my desire for the tattoo started to fizzle. I wanted something that was unique to me, reflective of who I was then and hoped to be in the future. When I thought about it more, I still felt like I wanted to wander, but lust wasn’t really for me. So, I adjusted it.
I brought together a passion for walking and of daydreaming and married it with my terrible sense of direction that had instilled in me a love of being lost, and my tattoo was born. To combine wonder and wander I ended up creating a new letter glyph of sorts, which I felt guaranteed my tattoo’s uniqueness. The design was clear in my head but ultimately knocked up on a scrap piece of paper in a Thai bamboo tattoo parlour before being inked just before my 21st birthday. A tribute to my life as a daydreaming traveller with a love of the unknown.
ERICA FROM THE MANINI EXPERIENCE
I completed a Fulbright Scholarship in South Africa and Lesotho (pronounced luh-sue-too) in 2011. I was there to study art and history, but I ended up falling in love with Lesotho and the Basotho culture. Lesotho is a unique, mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa. The country motto, ‘Khotso, Pula, Nala’, which means ‘Peace, Rain, Prosperity’, is a beautiful representation of the things that are most important to the people of Lesotho. It was a few years before I actually got the tattoos, but the decision about what to get was easy. I love the country of Lesotho, I love the Sesotho language, I love the Basotho people, and I love the idea of peace and prosperity. I chose to have daily reminders to live a peaceful and prosperous life and to forever live with the country of Lesotho in my heart.
AMY FROM TOOTHBRUSH TRAVELS
I was 11 years old when I first discovered my love of flying. The cotton candy clouds that could never be built upon combined with the realisation that I could be anywhere in the world in 24 hours meant that both my eyes and my soul were simultaneously happy. Fast forward to over a decade later and I got a small but meaningful tattoo to commemorate that feeling. Most people see a paper plane and think it represents my love for travel, which it does, but to me it will always signify my love of flying and the escapism that comes from knowing that a world of adventure is only a plane ride away.
RHIANNON FROM THE GYPSY HEART TRAVELS
A few years ago, on my first backpacking trip to Thailand, I had a tattoo hand poked into my thigh with a sharp piece of bamboo. Several years later and I was back in Thailand with a new mission – to get a Sak Yant tattoo.
Sak Yant tattoos are performed by monks, hand poked with a metal rod (I was assured all precautions are met). The monk will speak with you and decide which Sak Yant would benefit you, the tattoo is made, and a blessing ceremony performed.
“The monk said, this is going to be extremely painful”, said my translator tentatively. I have two other tattoos on my back, as well as my previous hand-poked tattoo which I had considered hardly painful at all – in fact I had fallen asleep during that one, so I was feeling a bit cocky. It was excruciatingly painful. Apparently, the monk was impressed that I sat still without any breaks and didn’t cry!
My Sak Yant is for good luck and features a lotus design, Buddhist prayers and unalomes. I was also given a Sai Sin bracelet for good luck and protection, along with a red cloth covered in gold markings.
NAT FROM NAT WANDERLUST
I’d known from an early age this is the tattoo I needed to get. When I was a child, I used to read National Geographic magazines and I remember seeing these magical tattoos done by Monks holding long bamboo needles in countries far away.
Getting my tattoo was such an emotional experience. I booked in to Sak Yant Chiang Mai that’s located in the Old City and when I entered the room, the Monk was sitting there. I bowed three times out of respect, sat down with my arm out and he proceeded to tattoo the Hah Taew Sak Yant onto my body forever.
After he finished, he closed his eyes and said prayers over my new Sak Yant while blowing the magic into the tattoo. I started tearing up, it was so powerful and meant so much to me.
MAEGAN FROM WANDERLUST DIETITIAN
Ever since I was a little girl, my grandparents encouraged me to follow my dreams and stay smart! As it happens, my dreams have led me to travel the world and after my grandparents passed, I wanted to honour them in a way that would stay with me forever. So, I got a tattoo. I had a world map outlined on my ribs with a Frank Sinatra quote that reads ‘come fly with me’ underneath.
I’ve had my map tattoo for three years now and still smile each time I look at it! I’m hoping to get a larger piece soon, also travel-related but you’ll have to stay tuned for that one!
Hi guys who stuck around from the intro to hear about my terrible tattoo idea near miss in Salou, Spain. Well, I was going to get my hotel room number (yes, really) tattooed on the side of my foot along with the other two friends who had also been in the same room. Why? Who the fuck knows. Let’s just say it was a trip full of questionable decisions, but luckily I knew when to nope out at just the right time. Anyway, with that slice of inspiration pie polished off, let me know in the comments which one was your favourite travel blogger tattoo!