If there are two statistics that are ever on the rise, it’s the number of people getting tattoos and the distance/frequency of travel, especially amongst young people. As travel writers who are both heavily tattooed, we can attest to this!
And so, it makes sense that the biggest themes and trends in tattooing right now are travel tattoos. This includes globe tattoos, compass tattoos, backpack tattoos, hot air balloon tattoos, ship tattoos, and the list goes on and on!
Here, we’ve taken that list and investigated the best of each kind of travel tattoo for you to browse and be inspired by. Below, you’ll find the best globe tattoo, the best travel quote tattoo, the best boat tattoo… you get the idea! Enjoy, and be inspired!
This globe tattoo by Kyle Behr is fantastic. There are a lot of neotrad globe tattoos out there; and I really do mean a lot. But Kyle’s design stands out by framing the globe tattoo so well plenty of flowers and colour texture that both compliment the globe tattoo and add a real sense of dynamism to the piece.
It’s a delightful travel tattoo that doesn’t just prioritise the theme. That’s a trick that a lot of people miss with themed tattoos (like travel tattoos): they often prioritise the theme and give little thought to the execution. But this tattoo is executed so well: the colours pop, the shape is dynamic and thought-out, and the flower frame is inspired. This is a really great globe tattoo. The paper plane is also an adorable addition.
Hot Air Balloon Tattoo
Hot air balloon tattoos have been growing in popularity recently, and It’s hard to resist their charm! As a big fan of Jules Verne and someone who has experienced the romanticism of hot air balloons first-hand, I’ve been considering getting a hot air balloon tattoo myself.
They’re sweet, cute, ambitious, classic, vintage, romantic; they tick every tattoo box. And while the vast majority are done in an awesome (and suitable) neotrad style, this particular hot air balloon tattoo from Renae Haak in Australia really stood out to me.
The beauty of hot air balloon tattoos is the space they give you to work with. You can print any design onto the balloon itself: a globe, a skull, a jack-o-lantern; whatever your poison. But this very vintage traditional design spoke to me and is expertly done. One of the best hot air balloon tattoos I’ve seen.
Travel Quote Tattoo
“Not all those who wander are lost.” That’s the classic one. Tolkein wrote it; it’s in his poem All that is gold does not glitter from The Lord of the Rings. The title of the poem also inspired Stairway to Heaven by Tolkein fanatics Led Zeppelin.
So, there’s your history lesson. But this tattoo doesn’t say that, and we’re thrilled. That quote has been done and done and done. Here, instead, we have a gorgeous poem by the talented Jennae Cecelia, author of Uncaged Wallflower and Losing Myself Brought Me Here. The tattoo is on a fan of hers but, unfortunately, we couldn’t find the tattoo artist to credit them properly.
Regardless, it’s a great tattoo. Quote tattoos are perhaps the most difficult to nail; the intricacies of text don’t transfer so well onto the lumpy bumpy human body, but this one has been done artfully and, perhaps more importantly, the poem is gorgeous and the tattoo is original. We love it.
I’m not sure what it is about compass tattoos, but the vast majority of them are black-and-grey, hyper-realistic tattoo designs. You don’t find too many big, bold, colourful compass tattoos in a neotrad or cute and cartoony style. Black-and-grey is usually the name of the game for the compass tattoo.
Whatever the reason, this particular compass tattoo by Bruno Moreira in Sao Paulo is outstanding! Bruno is known far and wide for his incredible hyper-realistic tattoos, and this one is no exception. If you’re into this style, you’ll love this compass tattoo. And if you’re not (we usually aren’t), you still have to appreciate the craftsmanship on display here. What a talent, and what a fantastic travel tattoo.
Read More: Harry Potter Tattoos for Potterheads!
Boat tattoos have been a classic almost since time immemorial. Getting a big ship tattoo on your upper arm, your chest, or your thigh is as ubiquitous within the tattoo world as a koi fish tattoo or a dragon tattoo once was. And one quick browse through Instagram proves why. They’re so timeless!
And there are so many good ones! Seriously, the amount of fantastic neotrad ship tattoos is astonishing. I got my ship tattoo back in 2008 and its design pales in comparison to some of the ones I’ve seen since, throwing me into the pits of ennui as a result.
But so many of these boat tattoos are identical, my own included. The one we’ve featured here, however, is something very different; very unique. It’s a clever blend of a message in a bottle and a ship tattoo done by Ali Campion in Dublin, and we adore it. It’s a real refreshing take on the formula and an excellent travel tattoo. Don’t steal it, but let it inspire you!
Originally this slot was going to be awarded to the best map tattoo but they’re all so awkward. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one executed well. So, instead, let’s go with something far more original and fun: a backpack tattoo. Backpacks are attractive, iconic, synonymous with travel and the open road.
They make for a perfect tattoo, both thematically and aesthetically. This one, in particular, by Flow Cabral in Buenos Aires is an absolute treasure of a tattoo. A backpack tattoo complete with hiking boots, hiking poles, and a backdrop of stark mountains.
This is one of the most lovingly-made backpack tattoos we’ve seen; it’s memorable and captures the spirit of solo travel terrifically well.
If you thought finding the best ship tattoo was hard. Picking the best swallow tattoo simply can’t be done. Swallow tattoos are some of the oldest and most traditional in the history of Western tattooing. Sailors traditionally got a swallow tattoo once having safely travelled 5000 nautical miles.
And since getting a swallow tattoo on one’s hand is customary and tradition, we thought we’d bow to tradition just this once and highlight a fantastic swallow hand tattoo.
This tattoo by Peter Nyberg in Sweden isn’t the best swallow tattoo in the world, because there is no best swallow tattoo. But it is an excellent one: an inspiring travel tattoo and a dedication to the craft of traditional tattooing if ever we saw one.
Read More: 13 Inspiring Shakespeare Tattoos