Why You Need Travel Tattoos.

Travel and tattoos. Two of my favourite things.

There’s nothing I love more than meeting new people, spotting their tattoo and asking the story behind it.

Hearing a person’s story, of where they got tattooed, of what it means to them, that’s one of my favourite things about travelling.

I decided to ask fellow travellers their tattoo tales, so sit back, and enjoy.

Becca Huxley from Bee Wanderlust

“I have 6 tattoos,  and a few that I can very much relate to my travels, I will share two of my favourites. My main one is my ‘Wanderlust’ tattoo with a swallow. Wanderlust means a strong desire to travel, I couldn’t relate to this more. I got this tattoo when I realised my main passion in life, travel, so of course, I had to brand myself, forever. It is also my favourite Frank Turner song (give it a listen).”

Wanderlust Tattoo

“My hamsa hand. Hamsa hands mean a lot of different things, it means five represented by the number of fingers, femininity,  warding off evil. But to me it mainly means protection and unity. I am not religious, and yes I know it is a huge religious symbol. For me though I love that it is seen throughout so many cultures and religions, it shows similarities between all of us. I also love the protection aspect, especially as I travel the world.”

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Sophie Parlby

“So basically, in July this year I spent a month in a small town called Kununurra, Australia. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere, and is still extremely natural.

The main thing I noticed was the unusual trees that were absolutely everywhere. I spoke to a few locals, and found out that they were Boab trees, and are only found in the Kimberley region of Aus, and Madagascar from thousands of years ago when these 2 countries were actually connected. The indigenous people use these trees for food, water, and even decorate the boab nuts that fall off!

I decided to get a tattoo of one of these unusual trees to both remember my time in the outback, and symbolise that something can be at home and comfortable in more than one country of the world. The boab tree in the middle, surrounded by the red/orange colour of the natural sandy Earth, and the night sky as this was the first place I’d seen the Milkyway Galaxy!”


Kelsey from Journey Eat Repeat

“I went to the University of Hawaii at Hilo for a semester in 2012. It was easily one of the most amazing experiences while I was there taking class, meeting new people, and adventuring around the island I wanted something that would never let me forget the feeling of freedom and adventure. I decided a tattoo of a Plumeria flower. It was an easy decision because it is my favorite smelling flower. This feminine flower would never let me forget that semester. Lastly, what the flower symbolized more than my semester there was meaningful.

It will always be a reminder of this great opportunity of a life time that I got! It symbolizes the DEDICATION that is needed in anything you want to be successful in, the BEAUTY of life and the earth itself, and to always go through life with CHARM and GRACE.”

Find more from Kelsey here:

Plumeria Tattoo

Erica from The Manini Experience

“In 2011, I completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Lesotho, Africa (pronounced luh-sue-too).  While I was there to study history and art, I ended up falling in love with the Basotho culture and made connections with an organization called BLOOM Africa.  BLOOM Africa exists to provide educational opportunities and help develop community learning centers for the AIDS orphans in Lesotho.  As soon as I returned to the States, I became a member of the BLOOM Africa board and solidified my commitment to the children and the country of Lesotho.

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 some of the most important things to the Basotho people.  It took me a few years to finally get my Lesotho tattoos, but the decision about what to get was an easy one.  I love the Sesotho language, I love the Basotho people, I love the country of Lesotho, 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 continue to serve the people of Lesotho.”

Find more from Erica here:


Anjai frm The LITMO Life

“I’ve always been a big fan of spontaneity but I didn’t know how much until I actually quit my job to travel the world full-time – and on one of those travels, stumbled into a vegan tattoo parlor in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been vegan for almost ten years – but even then, I didn’t know that a fully vegan tattoo parlor existed! What makes the tattoos vegan is that they are made with vegan ink – ink with no animal ingredients. Anyway, when I walked into the place, I immediately fell in love. I decided to ask my Facebook friends whether I was nuts to think about getting a tattoo at the spur of the moment – most of them said to go for it! As fate would have it, there was an appointment cancellation. I decided within 60 seconds I wanted a travel-related related tattoo, and in another 30 seconds I decided I wanted a small, artsy picture of the globe. About 20 minutes later, it was done! Best decision of my life! You can read more about my adventures at TheLITMOLife.com.”

Find more from Anjai here:

Anjali Tattoo t.jpg

Hali from Tara Lets Anywhere-

“In summer in 2015, I had my first travel tattoo. I ventured to the mountains of Kalinga in Mountain Province in my home country, the Philippines, and met with the oldest mambabatok (traditional tattoo artist) named Apo Whang-Od. Apo Whang-Od is almost a hundred years old. She still does hand-tapped tattoos following tribal patterns, with the help of her grandniece. She uses a thin bamboo stick and charcoal for ink, a native method that is said to hurt more than modern tattooing.

Kalinga tattoos are inspired by common objects, such as rice terraces, rivers and animals. The tattoos have a special significance in the ancient cultural tribe in Kalinga: as body aesthetics for women and recognition for male warriors during the old days of hunting.

I decided to have my own tattoo from Kalinga in my lower left arm as a remembrance, and to be part of, the ancient mambabatok culture. The design I chose was that of a river or karangyan in Ilocano. It means to influence, referring to how a river nourishes both its sides. I carry this mark with modesty and so far haven’t encountered any problems, although I’ve been warned that these kinds of tattoos may be interpreted differently in countries such as Japan.

The ancient culture in Kalinga has long been gone, but this ethnic art lives on among us, marked with the last ashes of coal from a tribe with colorful history and tradition.”

Find more from Hali here:

kalinga tattoo.jpg

Hannah from Getting Stamped-

“I got my first travel tattoo in Thailand after looking and looking for the perfect one. I got a Sak Yant tattoo in Chiang Mai as a way to always remember my time in Thailand. I have spent over a year traveling in Thailand and Chiang Mai has become my second home. A Sak Yant tattoo is a magical tattoo done by monk in a temple. The tattoos is believed to blessed by the monk and have “powers.” Typically you sit down with the monk and tell him about you life and go over areas of your life you are struggling with our want protection/help with. The monk then chooses a tattoo for you and where on the body it should go. Naturally my tattoo is to protect me traveling with added protection for: family, health, happiness, and job. I love my tattoo and now have a story to tell when anyone asks me what my tattoo means and where I got it. I was spending Christmas in Thailand and decided this would be my Christmas gift to myself!”

Find more from Hannah here:

Getting Stamped Sak Yant tattoo.jpg

So here are some reasons why travellers get travel tattoos. Reasons why they need them on their travels, why they are an important part of their travels.

Have you had got a travel tattoo? Would you consider getting one?

Please share your stories in the comments!

‘Til next time.

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  • Wow, some of these tattoos look so beautiful! I actually think it’s a great way of preserving your memories for a place though I personally am too scared of the pain to ever get one. Henna tattoos for me 😀

  • These designs are beautiful! I’ve been planning my travel tattoo for years! I want an old style compass in UV ink on the inside of my right wrist – apart from picking one of the most painful parts of the body, I want the UV because although its in an obvious place, the tat is still for me as a representation of my journey – and as a lawyer – visible tats are usually frowned upon in court!

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