Thinking About Your First Travel Tattoo?

A couple weeks ago I got my first tattoo. I’d been pondering getting inked for a few years, but had been nervous to take the plunge. When I was younger, my frequent rebuttal to my mum’s dislike of my old piercings (I was once had my tongue and eyebrow pierced) had been that I could always remove them, but if I’d gotten a tattoo it was essentially forever. So I wanted to be sure about what I was putting on my body, and it took me years to finally decide on the perfect travel tattoo for me.

Bell - Travel Tattoo

Travel Tattoo for a 10 Year Wedding Anniversary

This year Alex and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary, so I thought it would be really meaningful to get a Belgium passport stamp with the date of when we met, along with the longitude and latitude of where we met in Brugge. I put something together and started researching where to get it done. If you are thinking to get a tattoo, look at reviews carefully. I researched a few tattoo places near by us in Boston and narrowed by decision to two places. Both had been on best tattoo parlors in Boston lists, and with respect to the art work and cleanliness of both places, both places received nearly identically good reviews. So how could I differentiate which was best for my travel tattoo?

Check Reviews Carefully Before Choosing a Tattoo Parlor

Always look at the 1 star reviews pertaining to anything, because they can provide indicators on whether there’s a systemic problem with an establishment. At one place, several people seemed far less happy with the service, finding the artists to be rude. I wanted to feel comfortable with the person who was permanently marking me! So I ultimately chose Regeneration Tattoo as reviews consistently said the staff were great, in addition to the quality art work.

Choose the Size of Your Tattoo Carefully

So armed with this information, we attempted to walk-in to Regeneration Tattoo, but it was too late in the day and they couldn’t fit me in. I was also warned that the text was too small on the stamp and that it would need to be a sizable amount larger than a passport stamp because the ink spreads a little over time. This means that the text may eventually blur together if it’s not inked big enough. So I went home and did further research on text tattoos. If you are thinking about adding text to your tattoo this is a good read.

Returning to the Tattoo Parlor After the Initial Sketch and Planning

I returned to Regeneration a week later, understanding I wasn’t going to get a small stamp and was content with receiving a bigger tattoo than I originally planned. Upon talking more with the receptionist, Jennifer, we decided to pick the elements from the passport stamp that I liked best and she rearranged the design in photoshop. When getting your first tattoo, you should be open to suggestions on what will and won’t work. After we re-designed the stamp in photoshop, I scheduled an appointment for another week later. If you make an appointment with a tattoo artist, Expect to put a deposit down, which is $80 at Regeneration. This goes toward the final cost of your tattoo and you can re-schedule with 48 hours notice.

Getting a Quality Ink from a Reputable Tattoo Artist

Edwin Marquez was the artist who inked my first tattoo, and I highly recommend him for those in the Boston area. He took what Jennifer and I had worked on the week before and pulled it all together, and when he asked if this was my first tattoo, to which I said yes, he enthusiastically said “great, let’s get started!” He was quiet, which was perfect for me, because when I get nervous I don’t have a lot to say. He periodically checked in with me, and as I was fine, we kept going.

balcony tattoo closeup
Afterward he finished my travel tattoo, he explained tattoo aftercare to me, which is a huge part of getting inked. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully! I did peel a little and it was slightly itchy, all which are normal signs of healing. Be sure to read up on aftercare and Buzz Feed has a list of what to expect when getting inked.

What Will Your Family Think of Your Tattoo?

Because my mum reads our blog, I did tell her about the tattoo in advance. She just said “that’s different,” but that I am a grown up and can make these decisions for myself and as long as I was happy that is what matters. It was a good response from her, so thanks mum! I am happy, Alex is my best friend and husband of over 10 years, and I love our life together…on most days! He unfortunately could not be with me while I was getting inked as he had to travel to Florida for an urgent family matter.

The photos in this post are from a recent work trip to Hollywood Florida, where I met up with Alex after his time in Orlando. Our rendezvous at Miami International Airport was his first time seeing the tattoo and he was really touched by it. He’s now pondering a travel tattoo of his own, which would also be his first ever tattoo.

Hollywood Beach Tattoo Girl

Do you have a travel tattoo or have questions about getting one? Let us know about it!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

16 thoughts on “Thinking About Your First Travel Tattoo?

  1. Aww it’s so cute! I love that it’s simple, but meaningful. I’ve contemplated getting a travel tattoo but I don’t know what. I love the significance behind yours!

    1. Awww thanks! I think it’s probably good to have it in the back of your mind, and only go for it when you know what you want, as it is, essentially, forever! As someone is very particular I’ve noticed a little bit of bleed when I look very up close at it, but it is a tattoo and your skin isn’t a perfect canvas and Alex tells me you you can only notice if you have your face in my back! But even that being said, I’m planning my next one! Good luck coming up with a tattoo design 🙂

  2. Never been comfortable with the idea of a tattoo as I am terrified of needles. However, I like the idea of having something meaningful 🙂 What part of Boston are you in? I’m over by the airport…hoping we don’t get as much snow this year 🙂

    1. It really doesn’t feel like needles, it feels more like pressure with some sharp pangs! But I can see why if you are terrified of needles that a tattoo would be out of the question.

      We’re over in Allston, we’re also hoping for a lot less snow this year! Last year was our first winter here and we’re still a wee traumatized!

  3. I sometimes ponder getting a travel tattoo, but like you don/y want to get anything that I haven’t thought through properly and might regret in the future. Good research tho, maybe one day I’ll get round to getting a tattoo.

    1. Hi Carly, yep it is certainly not something to do a whim! I’m thinking about the next one, there are two things I’d like, on is a gumnut baby, this is from an Australian children’s story that my dad loved to read to us. And the other is to incorporate a compass into this design, but I need to think on that one some! If you do get one, there is an excellent chance you’ll get another 😉

  4. That’s so cool! I love the design. I love the idea of a travel tattoo, but I’m not non-committal. I haven’t found anything I think I’ll like forever yet!

    1. Thanks Mags! I’m sure something will come to you at the right time 🙂 There are some amazing travel tattoos out there, and some beautiful artistry, I love some of the watercolor type tattoos, they are simply beautiful!

  5. Congrats on your tattoo, it looks great! I want to get a tattoo for a while now, and while it’s not travel related, I can’t wait to have it 😀

    1. Thanks Vlad! What are you planning to get? I was super excited too, so I understand. I hope it comes out how you want and you love it 🙂

    1. Thank Alyssa 🙂 My birthday is coming up, so I’ve asked for another, hehe! But I might leave it till after the holidays when I have more time to look after it.

    1. Thank you very much for the compliment! Great tattoo as well and so fitting for your lifestyle. That’s so cool that you’re a wedding photographer! Going from working at Disney to that means your career has been surrounded by magic 🙂

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