24 Stunning Symbols of Travel Tattoos and What They Mean

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For most of us, the traveler’s life is always a dream and a fantasy. So even if we can’t live freely without a care in the world, we can still capture the essence of wanderlust by watching camping/traveling videos on YouTube or cherishing our own memories. 

Another method where we can keep the spirit of our past memories alive and still remain hopeful for the future is through tattoos. If you’re up for it, getting inked is always a great idea to mark your journey and remind yourself to keep working on your travel goals.  

Let’s take a look at 24 stunning tattoo ideas to symbolize travel and wanderlust. 

1. World Map 

world map tattoo
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The World Map is one of the most common tattoos many travelers sport on their bodies. Traditionally, a World Map symbolizes the ultimate goal of the traveler: The freedom to go anywhere around the world. 

It can also signify the end of one’s journey, branding a traveler as one who’s visited many countries and has had their fill.  

A detailed black and gray World Map tattoo, — or a simple outline of any map you want, whether that’s your favorite island or home country — can signify your wanderlust and yearning to explore.  

2. Globe 

globe tattoo
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If the flat canvas of a World Map isn’t to your liking, a Globe tattoo can also fit the bill. Just like a World Map, the Globe can symbolize the entirety of your journey or your desire to keep traveling the world.  

For extra emphasis, you can add an airplane, boat, or paper plane circling the Globe or make it look like a palm is holding it (implying that you’ve got the entire world in the palm of your hand). 

3. Hot Air Balloons 

hot air balloons tattoo
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Standing in for freedom and the slow and deliberate journey of traveling around the world (ideally in 80 days), Hot Air Balloons are always synonymous with the archetype of the world traveler. 

In that same regard, Hot Air Balloons represent freedom and lightheartedness: they highlight your emotions where you are free from rules and responsibilities: a state where you actually begin to live in the present and cherish your journey.  

There are also dozens of variations to portray the carefree and joyous nature of hot air balloons. These variations strip the basket entirely and represent a globe or a pack of balloons hoisting luggage or a human. 

4. Coordinates 

coordinates tattoo
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If you want to be discreet and mysterious while keeping a personal reminder of the best places you’ve visited, Latitude and longitude coordinates make for awesome travel tattoos.  

Coordinate tattoos can have a more personal meaning and represent more than just a beautiful location.

You can pick whatever font you want or even pair it up with a personal quote, date, or an image of the scenery or event you associate it with. 

5. Airplanes 

airplane tattoo
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As a stand-in for the most common mode of transportation, Airplanes are extensively used by many travelers to embody the idea of travel and wanderlust.  

Although Airplanes may not represent freedom or respite from the humdrum of everyday life, as a vehicle of navigation, they represent the ability to traverse the world. 

There are tons of options for Airplane tattoos. You can get a simple outline or minimalist design or add a globe and dotted trail with a heart shape.  

If you’re looking for a little extra variety, you can also get a tattoo of an airplane seat with your favorite landscapes of landmarks off in the distance. 

6. Paper Airplane 

paper airplane tattoo
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Paper Airplanes take a more playful and lighthearted approach to airplanes and can be a great substitute if you feel the former is too complicated. Much like the hot air balloon, the Paper Airplane is free to roam the Earth and embodies the free spirit of the traveler.  

Besides that, a Paper Airplane also signifies randomness and living in the moment. No matter how much you try to direct it, the Paper Airplane seldom travels the intended path.

Instead, it chooses to explore, frequently stumbling across locations and people others rarely get to experience.  

7. Boats 

boat tattoo
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With meanings similar to airplanes (and traversing the world), Boat tattoos can also represent your wanderlust, especially if you’re a sailor or casually into “Yachting.” 

Boats are synonymous with navigation, exploration, the oceans, and freedom.

As such, it represents the free spirit of the traveler and your potential as an “Ocean Citizen,” open to exploring the seven seas and the lands that exist around it.  

8. Oceans and Waves 

ocean waves tattoo
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An ocean represents many things; few among these are tranquility, mystery, life, and unlimited potential: essential characteristics of a curious tourist. As such, the Oceans and the Waves can stand in for your desire to travel and explore.   

Just like the endless sea, the tattoo options available to represent the oceans are limitless. You can go for a minimalist wave, seashell, or a detailed scenery of a sunset with boats in the distance.  

9. Footprints and Boot Prints  

footprints boot prints tattoo
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Standing in for exploration and expedition, tattoos of Footprints or Boot prints can often leave a cheerful reminder that you’re not afraid to create new paths or retread old paths to revisit your favorite locations.  

Although primarily used to denote the birth and growth of a child, simple footprints with no inscriptions can represent the desire to travel, hike and leave a mark on this Earth.

Boot prints are directly synonymous with outdoor living and signify the never-ending wanderlust of the hiker, camper, and wilderness adventurer. 

10. Cars and Motorbikes 

car tattoo
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Apart from airplanes and boats, land vehicles such as cars, camper vans, off-road vehicles, and motorbikes can also represent the opportunity to travel.  

In most cases, these tattoos represent freedom in the context of camping, hiking, and outdoor living.  

So, if you’re exploring the highways in a car, traveling from beach to beach in a camper van, or climbing mountains with an off-road SUV, a tattoo to remind yourself of your land vehicle will always be a great choice.  

11. Compass 

compass tattoo
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One of the most common subjects in tattoos, the Compass stands for direction, navigation, purpose, and exploration.

It’s the fundamental symbol for travel and represents the explorer’s ability to collect their bearings and resume their journey, whether an actual road trip, hike or spiritual enlightenment.  

There are tons of variants for Compasses, with the majority being highly realistic, or alongside a world map, globe, landscape, or other elements.  

Newbies might find them cliche, but with universally-acknowledged symbolism, the Compass has always remained a timeless staple of the tattoo community. 

12. Pine Trees 

pine trees tattoo
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Another heavily used subject in tattoos, the Pine Tree represents virtue and immortality in the spiritual sense, while on tattoos, it represents freedom, travel, and the great wilderness.

Hikers are particularly fond of pine trees or evergreens, which represent the forest in all its glory.  

A stunning landscape of a forest laden with Pine Trees or intricate artwork depicting elk, wolves, mountains, lakes, and the sun will always make for great tattoos.

That said, a minimalist Pine Tree tattoo to symbolize your travel experiences and wanderlust will also suffice. 

13. Palm Trees 

palm trees tattoo
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Considered the de facto symbol representing vacation, freedom, tranquility, and the carefree travel lifestyle, Palm Trees make for great tattoos.

You can’t deny that whenever you imagine Palm Trees, it reminds you of the joyous times you vacationed on a beach or, at the least, saw others having the time of their lives.  

Throughout pop culture and media, we’re made to symbolize palm trees with feelings of wanderlust, abundance, and good times so getting a tattoo of them will surely help you and others get a sense of its serene nature. 

14. Mountains 

mountains tattoo
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It’s no surprise that mountains symbolize nature, freedom, and adventure. Apart from the conventional symbolisms of eternity and stillness, the mountains and the surrounding landscape often stand as potent reminders to get out there and explore.  

A tattoo of the mountains can be a potent reminder and inspiration: encouraging you to climb those hills, trek through footpaths, camp outdoors, and witness the beautiful scenery through your own eyes. 

15. Wildlife 

wildlife bear tattoo
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Elk, Wolves, and Bears, these woodland creatures are most often associated with camping and hiking.

As a result, tattoos incorporating these animals and scenes in nature can often represent travel, wanderlust, and the beauty of the natural world.  

Besides that, you can also use tattoos of exotic animals to remind yourself of your favorite country or mark your previous travels.  

16. Skylines 

skyline tattoo
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For tattoos of Skylines, there are only two options: minimalistic or fully photorealistic, and no in-between.

Whatever the case, these tattoos are great options to commemorate your trip to a famous city or country or even mark the end of your travel journey.  

17. Landmarks 

landmarks tattoo
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One of the best ways to commemorate your trip to a famous city or country is to get a tattoo of their most-recognizable landmarks.

These include skyscrapers, bridges, statues, and ancient or natural locations.

You can collect these tattoos with each trip and use them to signify each milestone during your travel journey. 

18. Camping Gear 

camping gear tattoo
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Utilizing camping gear (such as Hiking boots, bonfires, backpacks, and tents) for the main subject of a tattoo can help symbolize travel, freedom, and the wilderness.

Often adorned with coordinates, quotes, compasses, or natural landscapes, these tattoos can stand as an eternal reminder: letting you cherish those brief moments when you explored freely to your heart’s content.   

19. Quotes 

travel quotes tattoo
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Most tattoos will look great and add context whenever coupled with a fitting quote.

That said, Quotes on their own also make for great travel tattoos, inspiring yourself and others to live life on their own terms and work towards your goal of travelling the world.  

20. Luggage and Visa Stamps 

travel luggage tattoo
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Almost always representing the need to travel, Luggage, particularly travel suitcases, make for tattoos that can signify your wanderlust.

These types of tattoos are depicted as suitcases filled with memorabilia from around the world or with various stickers and stamps.  

21. Letters or Characters from Different Languages 

chinese characters tattoo
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Another fitting alternative to commemorate your journey across the world (and prove it to others) is to get tatted with characters, words, or quotes from the local language.

These types of tattoos are great on their own or with other elements but regardless, there’s no denying that various letters from around the world definitely add some variety and an artistic appeal. 

22. Signposts 

signposts tattoo
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Like compasses, signposts help us gather our bearings and find where we want to go. Ever since medieval times, signposts were used to guide travellers.

As such, their representations in tattoos can help symbolize your journeys and stand as a beacon of inspiration, reminding you never to give up on your dreams or your destination. 

23. Stamps 

travel stamps tattoo
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Even if they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing, tattoos of stickers or Visa stamps can make for great reminders. In most cases, tourists prefer to get tattooed with a replica of their Visa stamp (expiry date included).

Others might prefer a more tame approach with the names of the countries they’ve visited or the passport covers of different countries.

Whatever the case, these will always have a personal meaning to the wearer and inspire others to travel more. 

Wrapping Up

As we’ve seen through this list, there’s a good number of elements that you can incorporate for your next travel-inspired tattoo.  

Like most tourists, you can opt for an airplane or compass tattoo (coupled with a quote) for a more obvious interpretation or be more personal and mysterious, with coordinates and letters from other languages.  

Whatever the case, you’ll have more design choices and a better understanding if you go through this list and understand the different symbols associated with travel and wanderlust.  

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.

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