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How to Design a Unique Travel Tattoo

Updated on August 14, 2017
Lindsay Langstaff profile image

Lindsay studies global business and Spanish at the University of Evansville and enjoys traveling and tattoos.

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The Story Behind the Tattoo

I have a travel tattoo myself, and I am hoping that my own story provides some inspiration and direction. After traveling to 13 different countries (with no intentions of stopping there), I decided that it was about time I got a tattoo to reflect what made me the most happy in life: traveling. I spent hours looking through Pinterest and pinning different ideas. I knew that I wanted something original, but wasn't quite sure how to put it together. After much searching and debating, I decided that I wanted something that combined a globe and a compass.

It wasn't until almost a year later that I went through with it because I wanted to make sure that it was an idea I was genuinely in love with. I decided to go to a tattoo artist that many of my sorority sisters recommended and who also had extremely good reviews listed on his website. I spoke with him and explained my idea, showing him a couple of pictures I liked on Pinterest, hoping that it would be enough to give him some direction.

Sure enough, about a week later, he had drawn up the design that I now have on me. I was very impressed with his creativity and how well it fit what I wanted, despite the fact that I hadn't given him a very clear direction. The moral of the story is, don't be afraid to get creative and take a risk. Do your research first, but also follow your gut and do what makes you happy. If you follow those simple rules, you'll end up with a beautiful reflection of yourself.

My Travel Tattoo

My tattoo artist was able to help me bring my ideas to life with this work of art.
My tattoo artist was able to help me bring my ideas to life with this work of art.

Travel tattoos are increasing in popularity as more and more people are choosing to leave their comfort zones and explore the world around them. These tattoos typically hold a lot of meaning because they reflect a person's journey. The styles they come in are very diverse, ranging from small and simple to large and complex. They are easy to customize to your own personal experiences and produce visually beautiful results. This article explores who should get these tattoos, the different types you might see, and ideas for designing your own.

Who Should Get a Travel Tattoo?

Typically people who are interested in getting travel tattoos are those who have traveled before and consider it to be an important aspect of their life. This doesn't necessarily need to be the case, however, because a tattoo can represent any kind of journey, whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. I don't believe that there should be a limit on who can get what kind of tattoo, but it is important to think about how the art reflects yourself.

Ultimately, if you feel that a tattoo design has special meaning to you, then you should get one. Just make sure that you put thought into the style and have thought through why it is important to you.

Compass Tattoo
Compass Tattoo | Source

Compass Tattoo Meanings

The most common meanings behind a compass tattoo are direction, protection, and inspiration.

  • Direction is the most obvious of the three. The main purpose of a compass is to help you find your way or help you get back on track if you're lost. This is a good choice for anyone who feels like they have received or needed guidance in their life.
  • A compass can also represent protection. Compasses have been around for a very long time and used to be heavily relied upon. They protected the sailors who used them to avoid misdirection and brought them home safely to their families.
  • Finally, because they always point north, providing a constant sense of direction and hope, they inspire people to keep moving forward because of the guidance and sense of direction offered.

If you feel a connection to any of these meanings, this is a good design to consider.

Map tattoo.
Map tattoo. | Source

Map/Globe Tattoo Meanings

These tattoos are very straight-forward and easy to understand. They typically represent a love of travel or a love of knowledge.

Seeing an entire world laid out on someone conjures up thoughts of adventure, excitement, and travel. The idea of being able to explore such a vast and mysterious world brings joy to those who consider themselves to be wanderlusters.

There is much to be discovered in the world. Some may get this tattoo to represent their thirst for knowledge. They want to understand the way the world works and learn all its secrets. It's a great choice for people who consider themselves to be curious intellectuals.

Globe tattoo
Globe tattoo | Source

Airplane Tattoo Meanings

An airplane tattoo can mean that a person is adventurous and wishes to explore, since you can go virtually anywhere in the world by plane. The sky is, quite literally, the limit in this case and represents an openness to new places and experiences. This is a good tattoo to consider if you want to show yourself as an adventurous and open individual.

Airplane Tattoo
Airplane Tattoo | Source

Latitude and Longitude Tattoo Meaning

This design depicts a specific travel location designated by the latitude and longitude. It can show where you got married, where you grew up, where you met your best friend, or the location of any life event that was important to you. Wherever you go in the world, you can always have that specific location on you as a reminder of what occurred there.

Nobody knows the significance of this design except you (and anyone you explain it to), so you can get virtually any location you want that reminds you of something important. This tattoo tends to be discreet so it may not be for people who enjoy large and flashy ones.

Latitude and Longitude Tattoo
Latitude and Longitude Tattoo | Source

Passport Stamp Tattoo Meaning

Passport stamps are a great way to show off where you have been! This is definitely a design for world travelers. Every country has its own unique passport stamp, making this a fun and creative way to keep track of where you have been. This is a good tattoo for a large area of bare skin so that you can keep adding to it for years to come.

Passport Stamp Tattoo
Passport Stamp Tattoo | Source

Get Creative

Don't be afraid to get creative with your design. It doesn't have to strictly be an airplane or a globe. It can be any combination of anything you want it to be. Most people are not very creative, which is why part of the tattoo artist's job is to help you design something new. Never forget that they are there to help you. Commissioning an artist to draw something special for you will cost a little bit more, but the money is certainly worth it to get something entirely unique and original.

Whatever tattoo you decide to get, make sure that it's something you've put some thought into and that you don't have any doubts about. This should be a reflection of yourself and what makes you happy. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box to get something that brings you joy for years to come.

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© 2017 Lindsay Langstaff

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    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 2 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      What a great article. Very cool choices for different tattoos. Gives me some ideas for when I start to do some big time traveling. Thank you for sharing these ideas.