Beautiful travel tattoos and the stories behind them

There are thousands of pictures of travel tattoos out there on the internet, but not all of them have a special travel story behind them. You can have them printed in visible places or on obscure parts of your body,  get them as a souvenir or get them at home, in black or with a color.. There are so many options, but as long as they reflect back to a special travel moment you had or to your extreme wanderlust, they will be completely unique and perfect for you.

This post shows 13 beautiful tattoos and the stories behind them.

Mikkel, Sometimes Home
“It’s perhaps cliche though but completely true: this tattoo came to me in a dream. I was leaving for Japan about a week after it happened and I envisioned the tattoo on my back in calligraphy. The word “explore” seemed to perfectly fit my desires at the time, to travel as much as possible and explore opportunities ahead. I ended up getting custom calligraphy done between the time of the dream and my trip, which was so beautiful and attractive to me it got an upgrade to my inner forearm so I could constantly look at it. Years after getting it done in Osaka, Japan, I still love it.”

Travel tatoo - Sometimeshome.jpg

Leslie, My Adventure Bucket
“My life revolves around my bucket list, so this was a natural for me. It’s a journal of my greatest bucket list adventures and I’m constantly adding to it as I check things off. There’s a section of the Acropolis, the Ugandan Equator, a hot air balloon ride in Burma, Big Ben, and a gorilla I spotted in East Africa.”

Travel tatoo - leslie

Hannah, GettingStamped
“My husband and I have been traveling nonstop for 4 years and have spent over a year in Thailand. This Christmas instead of gifts we decided to get a Sak Yant tattoo, which is a magical tattoo by a monk. Our Sak Yants were chosen by the monk to protect us while traveling. It’s the best souvenir ever!”

Travel tatoo - gettingstamped.jpg

Lola, Miss Filatelista
“I recently got a Hindi phrase on my wrist after volunteering with a women’s empowerment NGO in India. The script says Nari Shakti, which means women’s strength. The beneficiaries of the charity would chant this phrase when influential Indian women came to visit the grassroots organization. It would move me to tears to hear their strength resonate through these words and I wanted to carry the moment with me forever.”
Travel tatoo - lola

Rohan, Travels of a bookpacker
“I’m from New Zealand but my Mum’s parents were from Ireland. When I was a teenager my Mum took us over there to connect with relatives. At some point along the way she had the crazy idea of getting a tattoo. My Dad point blank refused to get involved so she turned to me. We ended up choosing a Celtic knot and getting them in matching places on our ankles. 11 years later it is still the only tattoo either of us have but one that will always connect me to my family history and my Mum no matter where I am in the world!”

Travel tatoo - Rohan

Katie, The Budget Backpack
“I got this little turtle in an illegal tattoo shop in Busan, South Korea in 2012. I was living in Yeosu and the symbol of the city is a turtle- and I knew I wanted a permanent souvenir. I found a simple image and had the artist manipulate the shell a bit to give a nod to the Korean flag.”

Travel tatoo - Katie, The Budget Backpack

Jyotsna, Wander with Jo
“I just got back from Vietnam last month with this amazing travel tattoo. Wanted to get one done since forever and since I enjoyed traveling around this country SO much, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get inked on the road. This is a compass with a tiny world map in middle and an airplane on top. It portrays my passion for travel and my inevitably bad navigational skills. I got this compass inked in hopes my in-built broken GPS gets auto-fixed.. A girl can hope, right?”

Travel tatoo - WanderWithJo

Leigh, Campfires & Concierges
“I received a Sak Yant, or Sacred Tattoo at the Wat Bang Phra monastery, an hour outside Bangkok. The tattoo is given by a monk, using a bamboo needle, and your design and placement is chosen for you.  I received the Ha Taew, or Five Lines style. It was a very interesting experience for this aspiring Buddhist!”

Travel tatoo - campfiresandconcierges

Alaska, My dot on the Map
“I designed this tattoo after an 11-week backpacking trip around Patagonia, during which I spent a lot of time with the mountains. I’ve interlaid the infamous John Muir quote with an amalgamation of the Towers of Torres del Paine, Chile, where I did the Q trek, and Fitz Roy, Argentina. Keep dreaming and doing; women can dance on mountaintops.”

Travel tatoo - Alaska, My dot on the Map

Suzie Smith, I am but wandering
“I have an obsession with maps, I have done since I was very little (my favourite book as a 6 year old was an atlas!). I wanted a permanent reminder of my travels, and a way to remind myself that my story will continue throughout my life. So, I tattooed the world on to me! It needs updating, as I have been on the road for the past 8 months and have many more countries to colour!”

Travel tatoo - Suzie Smith

Aneesha Rai, Om Nom Nirvana
“I got a ‘compass mandala’ when I was living and working in Malaysia. It’s a henna inspired mandala design. Mandalas often represent the universe and are used in meditation across several cultures. It is even used as a battlefield strategy and stimulates balance and is a representation of the highest level of consciousness.The henna inspiration and intricacy of it is because of my middle eastern and Indian background.The compass, or nautical star detail I added is my effort to navigate through the universe, to conquer it and make it my own.”

Travel tattoo - Om Nom Nirvana.png

Natasha, Meldrum’s On The Move
“My tattoo is a decorative elephant with mountains coming out its back. It was a cover up of an Andes mountains tattoo gone bad… it now represents the mountains and elephants of the gorgeous city of Chiang Mai, and the hard work the poor elephants have had to endure in the past (and sometimes still do).”
Travel tatoo - Natasha from Meldrum's On The Move (

Daniela, Ipanema travels
“I met this dancing group from Easter Island years ago when I was myself touring around Europe. I was absolutely fascinated by their culture and traditions. I promised myself – one day I will go there. This tattoo symbolizes what traveling means to me. It’s a short string of Rongorongo – the glyphs they’ve used on the island, unfortunately, not yet deciphered.”

Travel tattoo ipanema travel

I hope you enjoyed reading the stories behind the travel tattoos! =)

Author: Daphne

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