Travel Tattoos: the best kind of souvenir.
I've got five tattoos from four continents. Find out the stories behind them and where they're from...
Until 2009, I had never thought about getting a tattoo. I was 22 and travelling around Australia when my good friend Holly announced that she was getting a tattoo before we left Australia. We'd had an epic adventure from Sydney to Alice springs to Noosa Heads and everywhere in between. Knowing exactly what she wanted, we headed into the parlour at Manly Beach, NSW. That was when she got cold feet and suggested that I get a tattoo also to help her get the courage. Ah well, why not!
I chose a dove. However, I wanted it to be done in a 'scratchy, half-finished' kind of style. I had no reason for my choice but hey-ho, why not! In a way, I suppose a dove symbolises peace and well, peace is a good thing, right? And it's also a bird and a bird can fly and I like flying on aeroplanes?! So that was that - Manly Beach, Australia; tattoo number one. The main problem was simply how to conceal it from my mum (world's biggest hater of tattoos!!!) I managed to keep it hidden for three years! The tattoo cost about $100 from Manly Tattoo and is my most expensive souvenir to date.
To read more about our Australian adventure, click below!
Fast forward to 2013 and you will find me in Bangkok. I had only been in the city for about twelve hours when I headed out (as a solo-traveller) and met two Aussie guys. Within hours we had drunk enough cocktails to quench an army's thirst and were heading to a tattoo parlour. I remember little of the experience, think I fell asleep during the process and did not realise I had a tattoo when I woke up a good 24 hours later... It was literally like living The Hangover movie!!! My good pal Wolvo tried to convince me that the word I had become inked with read 'soup' in Thai. I've since been told that it translates to 'smile'. Not such a bad decision and an exciting memory for my first time in Bangkok. BKK Ink on Khao San Road £20.
Click below for more about my less-wild adventures in Thailand!
They say it happens to everyone; once you get one tattoo, you just want more. For me, it was true. It was 2014 and I had just finished hiking the Inca Trail. Ok, I had just finished dying whilst hiking the Inca Trail! I was in downtown Cusco with Wolvo (the one who can't read Thai) and we had had a couple of beers and I was set on getting another tattoo. This time, I was set on getting a map and wanted it on my left ankle. Finally, a decision that I was making with 100% confidence. That was until I realised that my whole left ankle was covered in mosquito bites so it had to be my right ankle! Oh well, it'll do. I was so pleased with the outcome. I always joke that I can use the map if I ever get lost. Doesn't seem so funny as I type it here! Cusco Ink, £20.
Read more about my Inca Trail struggles by clicking below.
Finally, 2015 came and I was in South Africa. This was an opportunity to get a tattoo on a fourth continent. How could I pass? I waited until the very end of our cold, wintry trip before making the decision. I did lots of research and decided on a matching anchor and ship's wheel. I'm not a sailor but really liked the idea of ship-themed, matching tattoos. With the design in hand, we scoured Cape Town for a tattoo artist and I managed to get the work done. For £30 and less than an hour, the work was complete at Wildfire Tattoos on Long Street. The only problem with this idea was that I got them done at the end of the trip. Within days, we flew to Dahab on the Red Sea in Egypt for a sun-soaked holiday. I couldn't go in the pool or the sea and it was nearly 40c each day!!! A word of warning, time your tats to perfection as they need a lot of love and attention afterwards and you don't want to affect other trips as a result of your new ink.
For more on South Africa, click below.
It's now 2016 and I've got big plans for the year already. I'll be in Dubai in February, France in April and Svalbard in June. After that, I'll be working in Cairo or taking a twelve-month gap year and perhaps getting inked on a fifth continent. Who knows?! What I do know is that I love my travel tattoos, the memories that come with them and the excitement of adding to the collection. If you're considering getting a design done, I recommend you go for it. It'll make for a great story and a life-long memory.
What travel tattoos do you have or have you seen that you would love to get?