Sometimes, you get home and you just feel like you need to commemorate the trip with something more than a photo album on Facebook. Sometimes, the trip seems to have sunk so deep into who you are now that it makes perfect sense to have it etched into your skin.

I’ve actually never gotten a tattoo of any sort, though after my first trip abroad I got as far as sitting in the artist’s chair — when he informed me he was insanely hungover, maybe still drunk, and then said, “Okay, shake it off. Let’s roll.”

I told him I was having second thoughts and would come back later and never did. And I’m glad I didn’t. My idea wasn’t all that great, and if you’re gonna get a tattoo of something, you should really think it through and be 100%. There are thousands of pictures of travel tattoos out there on the internet. Here are some of the coolest I found.

1

Compass

The compass is a common theme. It can range from as simple as the basic compass-on-the-wrist in the upper left-hand corner, to the incredibly complex, as in the bottom left.
(via, via, via, and via)

2

Globe suitcase

I’m a fan of the globe on the suitcase design. It looks like, if these weren’t done by the same artist, then one was done with the other in mind. Either way, it’s a good look.
(via and via)

3

Route 66 and Paris

Maps of countries seem to be fairly common, as do skylines of favorite cities, but I actually saw relatively few maps of cities. These were two of the better I found. I couldn’t help but wonder what each of the hearts stood for on the Route 66 tattoo (maybe the cities named in the song?), and the Paris tattoo is just beautiful.
(via and via)

Intermission
548

Bernie Sanders’ campaign just released a video that will give you goosebumps

by Blaze Nowara
138

Advice from 30-year-old me to 20-year-old me

by Nic Haralambous
31

20 iconic tattoo shops around the world

by Michelle Schusterman
4

Fill-it-in-as-you-go

This guy made headlines a little while back for getting the world map tattooed on his back and then filling in the countries he visits as he goes to each of them. Even though this is an undoubtedly awesome tattoo, I feel bad for the guy after he goes to Russia.
(via)

5

Coordinates

The coordinates of some special place are another fairly popular idea, though this doesn’t necessarily need to reflect travel. It could be home, or the place that something important happened, or possibly a map to treasure.
(via and via)

6

Nautical tattoos

Anchors and ships are another fairly popular theme.
(via, via, via, and via)

7

Minimalist tattoos

I’m a big fan of the minimalist tattoo done well. I also think the paper airplane is about the perfect symbol for the concept of wanderlust, which is one of the most common words I was finding on travel tattoos.
(via, via, via, and via)

8

Maps

Obviously, world maps are ubiquitous. But there’s an infinite amount of variety and complexity to how you can do them.
(via, via, via, and via)

9

Free bird

Another great symbol is the "free bird." Though this doesn’t necessarily denote travel, it signifies a state of mind compatible to travel.
(via, via, via, and via)

Intermission
138

Advice from 30-year-old me to 20-year-old me

by Nic Haralambous
139

Unemployed? Hawaii wants you to move there so it can give you a job.

by Matt Hershberger
9

Tattooing and traditional Tongan tattoo

by Rodney Powell
10

Stamps

A postage stamp / postmark would be a great way to represent your hometown or a place that’s particularly close to your heart.
(via and via)

11

Voyage

The creative image-based ones typically involve a globe or a vehicle with a token word or two.
(via, via, via, and via)

12

Globe mandala

This globe mandala is one of my favorites. You could alter the specific design according to your own experiences.
(via)

13

Foot tattoos

For those who may not want large tattoos on prominent parts of their bodies, foot tattoos may be an understated alternative. All you need to cover them up are socks.
(via, via, and via)

14

Passport stamps

This is the best on the passport stamp theme. I have at least four of these stamps in my own passport.
(via)

15

Arms

Personally, I have no desire to commemorate the airports I’ve been to. Airports are almost universally a miserable experience. But it’s another cool ongoing list.
(via and via)

Intermission
139

Unemployed? Hawaii wants you to move there so it can give you a job.

by Matt Hershberger
506

What bartenders actually think of your drink order

by Lisa Millar-Jones
10

What do your tattoos mean to you?

by Kate Sedgwick
16

Wanderers

I’m not a big fan of quotes or words on tattoos. It’s a visual-art medium, so in my opinion pictures are preferable. That said, not everyone gets tattoos for the art. Sometimes they just need to be reminded of something.
(via, via, and via)

17

Skylines

Skylines are a trendy choice, and you can find them for virtually any city with a remotely distinctive skyline.
(via, via, via, and via)

18

The "everything"

Of course, if you’re having trouble picking between all your options, you could just get your entire life tattooed on your back and arms.
(via)

Like this Article

Like Matador