Travel tattoos you won’t regret when you’re old and wrinkly

Over at Marginal Revolution, economist, traveler, and blogger extraordinaire Tyler Cowen is asked how he’d go about choosing a tattoo that he wouldn’t later regret. Though I’ll wager that Tyler won’t be getting inked any time soon, his answer is characteristically thoughtful:

I would pick a country which I loved visiting, such as Mexico or Brazil, both of which have distinct shapes. It would be an excuse to narrate previous visits and I don’t think it would repulse many people, other than the fact that it is a tattoo.

I’m with Tyler. Country outlines are a great option, as long as they’re recognizable; it’s probably best to avoid, say, Luxembourg or El Salvador. Flags can make fine choices as well. (Here’s a guide to some of the best and worst.)

My personal choice for a tattoo would be the Arabic word “Yalla,” meaning “Let’s go” placed somewhere on my foot or ankle. I remember hearing the word, and using it myself, so many times in Morocco that the word will be forever linked with that trip. I also think written Arabic, even or perhaps especially if you can’t understand it, often looks like a work of art on its own.

How ’bout you, Gadling nation? Any ideas for travel-related tattoos that we won’t regret when we’re old and wrinkly?

To see Gadling blogger Mike Barish‘s (safe for work!) tattoo, check out this post from the Gadling vault. To read Tyler’s interview with Gadling, go here.

[Photo via Tattoo Designs]

Travel-Inspired Tattoos

I spent 29 years on Planet Earth without ever getting a tattoo. Then, in March of this year, I took the plunge. Why? Well, for me, I was finally inspired to get inked because I had an idea that was special to me. It connected me to set of memories that I never wanted to lose and had a unique personal story involving two amazing trips that I had taken.

On the inside of my left forearm I have my last name tattooed in Hindi. While traveling to India twice in 2007, I had learned that my last name (pronounced baarish in Hindi) meant rainfall. And both times that I went, despite the fact that it was not monsoon season, it poured in Delhi. The running joke amongst my Indian coworkers and friends was that I had brought the rain with me.

Immediately, I knew that I wanted to get baarish tattooed somewhere on my body. I had several of my Indian friends in Delhi and in the States write the word on paper for me (I did not want any misspellings, or worse, a completely different word tattooed by mistake). I debated where on my body to get it, what tattoo parlor to go to and whether I should try to get back to India to have it done there.

It took me a year to gather up the nerve to get inked. Now I wonder why I waited so long. My tattoo is an incredible reminder of two amazing trips to my favorite country in the world. It immediately stirs up memories of friends, places, foods, smells and experiences. And it’s my family name, in which I take a great deal of pride.

I almost got another trip-inspired tattoo this past spring. That story is less sentimental and more comical. Though it could have been tragic. While out in Osaka, Japan one night, after several sakes and Yebisu beers, my friends and I met up with a tattoo artist. He introduced us to his friends and showed us their studio. In my drunken stupor, I actually thought it would be a novel idea to get a tattoo of the Yebisu logo. Thankfully, the studio was closing and no one was available to do the job. I dodged a bullet on that one!

Have any trips motivated you to get inked? Have you gotten a tattoo while on a trip? Do you regret that shamrock on your lower back that was inspired by a few too many pints of Guinness? Share in the comments.