Skip To Content
    Updated on 19 Nov 2019. Posted on 18 Nov 2019

    24 Stories Behind The Tattoos People Got While Overseas

    "Some Argentinian guy with a stick and poke kit did this tattoo in the back of an Ecuadorian hostel."

    You've probably heard of collecting passport stamps, but this new travel trend sees holiday makers preserve travel memories through tattoos.


    Tattourism, as it's called, sees travellers getting inked up during their time abroad. According to a Hostelworld survey, 31% of Aussies under the age of 35 have gotten a tattoo while on holiday, with 57% strongly considering getting one on their next trip.

    We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community about the tattoos they got while overseas on a holiday. Here are some of the stories behind their holiday ink.

    1. This tattoo that celebrates international friendship.

    Mette Marie Müller / Facebook

    During my last day in the USA visiting my best friends, I decided that I really wanted a tattoo. At 9 p.m. in the evening, I started calling all the tattoo places in Denver. Only one place was able to do it, so we went there. At first I thought I wanted a ladybug, then a frog, then a hedgehog, but I ended up with some mountain peaks on my ankle. It felt right since we had taken a trip to the Rocky Mountain National Park the day before and was so amazing!

    —Mette Marie Müller, Facebook

    2. And this one that represents a close family bond.

    @jennsbig / Via

    My grandma, my mum and I were all born 24 years apart and I knew I wanted to get a tattoo to mark our significant bond. A few days after my 24th birthday, I travelled back to Japan — which is where I was born and lived until I was 3 years old. This felt like serendipitous timing for some new ink, but I arrived with no real plan for the tattoo itself. Luckily for me, when I shared the idea with my friends in Okinawa, my birthplace, they immediately connected me with a local artist. Again, lucky for me, the artist could squeeze me in just one day before I went back to the U.S. It’s perfectly imperfect and means so much to me.

    Madeline Anderson

    3. This amazing rendition of Lady Liberty.

    @staceygorel / Via

    This was done by Taylor at Action Tattoo in LA.


    4. And this gorgeous design of a Hawaiian sunset.

    @staceygorel / Via

    This was done by Jen Matthews at Skin Deep Tattoo in Waikiki.


    5. These tattoos that capture an amazing trip to the Catacombs of Paris.

    Donna Blossom / Facebook

    I had already decided to get this done, but after seeing all the skulls in the Catacombs of Paris, my partner decided he wanted one too!

    —Donna Blossom, Facebook

    6. This one to commemorate studying overseas.

    Rosa Michel Pace / Facebook

    I got two tattoos done while in Italy. This is one of them!

    —Rosa Michel Pace, Facebook

    7. And this one that shows how much studying abroad can change your outlook on life.

    @kelseyk4d6824efe / Via

    During the spring semester of my junior year of college, I went abroad with a program called Semester at Sea. Over four months, we travelled to 11 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe by ship. My theme for the whole trip was “happiness” because this trip allowed me to finally find it. Our third stop was China, and I spent a couple of days in a small town in the south. We biked to this rice field and it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The mountains, the sky and landscape; I have never felt so content anywhere before in my life. When we ended the trip in Amsterdam, I decided I wanted to get a tattoo. My friends and I wandered around until we came upon a tattoo shop that had a ship as its logo. I knew it was perfect since I had just left a ship that had become my home and allowed me to experience the world. My tattoo is the outline of the mountains in China from the rice field with the words “be happy.” I got it to always remind myself how I felt in that moment while staring at the mountains.


    8. This tattoo that really sums up, "When in Rome."

    Hillary Anne Elizabeth / Facebook

    This was a spontaneous tattoo decision while in Rome.

    —Hillary Anne Elizabeth, Facebook

    9. And this one, done on a whim.

    Claire Susan / Facebook

    Spontaneous decision in Florence, Italy.

    —Claire Susan, Facebook

    10. This story about a woman who travelled abroad to see one of her favourite tattoo artists.

    @s46b8ff9c1 / Via

    I had kept an eye on Kel Tait for ages, who is a tattoo artist that I love, and saw she was doing a guest spot tour throughout Europe. I travelled to Barcelona to get her interpretation of my favourite dinosaur. I had no idea what it was going to look like when I arrived at the studio, but I'm so pleased with the outcome.


    11. This tattoo that was done in the back of a hostel in the middle of the night.

    Heidi Sfiligoi / Facebook

    I paid US$40 for my first tattoo. Some Argentinian guy with a stick and poke kit did in the back of an Ecuadorian hostel — which had no reception because it was in the middle of nowhere — at 11p.m. at night.

    I was not planning on getting one, but I love it. The Cotopaxi Volcano is with me for life now!

    —Heidi Sfiligoi, Facebook

    12. And this one, which was done in a shed in Thailand.

    Chloe Ledger / Facebook

    I got this done in a little shed in Thailand while the artist's son and wife ate snacks and watched. It’s a bit shitty, but it’s still my favourite tattoo.

    —Chloe Ledger, Facebook

    13. This bee that represents travelling as an adult for the first time.

    Grace Oliver / Facebook

    I got this bee done in New Zealand. I had always planned to get a tattoo but I never researched it — I just walked into a random shop and got it done. It was my first overseas trip by myself and as an adult, so I got one to remember it. Manuka honey is a big thing over there and I am passionate about saving the bees.

    —Grace Oliver, Facebook

    14. This tattoo that immortalises the greatness of The Veronicas.

    Jay Gilden / Facebook

    Being a big fan of the melody of "Untouched" by the Veronicas, I ventured into the tattoo parlour, completely sober, to have it immortalised.

    —Jay Gilden, Facebook

    15. This tattoo from a loved-up couple's first trip together.

    Charley McVea / Facebook

    I got my first-ever tattoo on my first holiday with my husband. It’s a bit naff and the design was pulled straight off Google, but I kinda love it.

    —Charley McVea, Facebook

    16. And this one that that will keep these exchange sisters connected forever.

    Lexy Pandolfino / Facebook

    While I was growing up, my family used to host exchange students. We decided to take one year off, but we heard of a student from Denmark whose American family pulled out last minute, so we took her in on a whim. It turned out to be the best thing that had happened to both of us and we're still super close. Last year, I finally took a trip to Denmark to visit her and her family. We went to the oldest-operating tattoo shop in the world, Tattoo Ole Nyhavn 17, which is in Copenhagen, and got matching sprigs of leaves with hand-drawn hearts from one another. Absolutely no regrets — it's my favourite tattoo ever.

    —Lexy Pandolfino, Facebook

    17. This one, which is literally the owner's understanding of the meaning of life.

    @j41bb38745 / Via

    "I came, I saw, I loved" — that's all I was put on this earth to do and I love the saying.


    18. This California-inspired artichoke.

    @brittanyb481933a8a / Via

    This was done in Portland by Mav Mess at Atlas Tattoo to commemorate a road trip to California. Any time my husband and I would drive by a farm, there would be huge signs advertising artichokes — so much so that it became an inside joke for the entire trip. I knew the tattoo artists in Portland were insane, so I combined the ideas into one and got a tattoo for Cali done by a Portland artist. It came out so good!


    19. And this one that teaches us that what happens in Vegas sometimes comes home with you.

    @samwilsoncalgary / Via

    This is a terrible tattoo that I got at 3 a.m. in Las Vegas. I used a fake Canadian ID and dug every last dollar from the bottom of my purse for this overpriced laugh fest.


    20. This one that commemorates an overseas marriage.

    @brittanyb481933a8a / Via

    I'm American but got married in Ireland. On our second trip there a couple of years later, I decided to get a tattoo to commemorate the time I spent there. I didn't want a stereotypical four leaf clover or anything, so I decided to go with an emerald, like the Emerald Isle.


    21. And another about a spontaneous moment in Ireland.

    @jackiej414f1f042 / Via

    During a three hour bus ride from Galway back to Dublin, I got the idea to get a tattoo for my travels. I messaged a bunch of artists on Instagram that I liked and ended up with a lovely willow branch by artist Jean Zottis at Wild Cat Ink South. He fit me in somehow and I love it!


    22. This tattoo of the national flower of the Netherlands.

    @kedsandtubesocks / Via

    A permanent tulip souvenir from Amsterdam. It was my first overseas trip and my second tattoo. I call it my tat-two-lip.


    23. And this beautiful design featuring their flag.

    @staceygorel / Via

    This was done by Toby Gawler in Amsterdam.


    24. And finally, this heartfelt quote that proves that both travel and tattoos mean so much to people.

    AstridElisabeth / Via

    I got this tat done at Little Tokyo Tattoo Parlour in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been through a lot of stuff in the past year, and my trip to Australia felt like a reward for surviving. I got my favourite line from my favourite movie — Full Metal Jacket — tattooed on my ribcage from a parlour I’ve been dreaming of visiting for years. It was definitely the best trip ever.


    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    Have you had a tattoo done while you were overseas? Show us a picture of it in the comments below!