TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - Jul 26, 2016) - There's nothing like a souvenir to bring back memories of a vacation, but after shelling out for a sombrero, buying another t-shirt, or discovering that the local craft item you bought was actually made in China, it's no surprise that buyer's remorse often sets in.
On your next vacation, skip the gift shop and learn to make something that reflects the local culture and traditions of the place you're visiting. In Asia, traditional crafts abound, and skilled tailors can create stunning outfits for you to take home with you. In Europe, visitors can try their hand at blending perfume in France or making chocolate in Belgium. Closer to home, visitors can weave sweetgrass baskets in South Carolina. The experts at Cheapflights.ca, the champions of simple travel search, have collected some favourites in their Top 10 places to create your own souvenir.
Here are five of our picks for the best destinations for making DIY souvenirs:
- Design clothing in Vietnam - Get in touch with your inner fashionista and revamp your wardrobe for a fraction of the cost of retail clothes back home. Vietnam is one of the best places to have tailor-made, one-of-a-kind clothing made just for you. While many tailors are happy to sell off-the-rack dresses, including traditional Vietnamese áo dài (silk tunic dresses), or let you choose from dozens of sample dresses and suits that are then replicated and tailored to your measurements, you can also get creative and bring your own designs. Have a favourite dress or suit that you wish to replicate? Bring it to the tailor who will discuss the design, let you select the fabric and take your measurements. Turnaround time is anywhere from one day to one week. One of the best tailors is Tuyet Lan Orchids in Hanoi, which sews men's, women's and children's clothes, including traditional Vietnamese casual clothing as well as evening gowns and even hand-embroidered accessories like wallets, sandals, pillows and bedding.
- Adopt a barrel of wine in Italy - After days of sipping fine Italian wine, why stress over how many litres you can bring back on the plane when you can adopt a barrel? Tuscan wines are some of the best wines in Italy thanks to the climate which helps maintain the grapes' balance of sugars, acidity and aromatics. Wine aficionados who adopt a barrel typically receive shipments of the wine annually and, after several years, the barrel itself. It's best to check with the winery or farmhouse ahead of time to see if it offers an adoption program, but the following Tuscan wine producers have well-established adopt-a-barrel programs: Azienda Agricola Enrico Baj Macario, Petrolo, Migliarina & Montozzi and La Salceta.
- Make chocolate in Belgium - Chocolate is synonymous with Belgium; 172,000 tons of chocolate products are manufactured each year in Belgium by around 500 different manufacturers and sold through 2,000 specialist shops. Along with Switzerland, the term "chocolate" is legally restricted to products containing only cocoa butter, cocoa solids, sugar and milk. The unique taste, "mouth-feel" and texture of Belgian chocolate is due to several factors: the higher-than-average amount of cocoa powder; the longer conching (blending) process ensuring a smoother end product; and the top-quality training that most Belgian chocolatiers receive. Chocoholics can spend their days sampling some of the world's finest chocolate and then learn how to make their own sweet souvenirs. A multitude of museums and chocolatiers offer demonstrations, workshops and chocolate-making classes. One of the best is at chocolatier Laurent Gerbaud in Brussels, who offers a "chocolate workshop" for individuals each Saturday. Highlights include mendiant making and chocolate tasting sessions.
- Make perfume in France - Some of the most internationally famous perfumes are French (think Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar of Guerlain), so it is only fitting travellers learn the art of making perfumes from natural plant extracts here. Craft your own custom, signature scent in the South of France at the Université Européenne des Senteurs & Saveurs (The European University of Smells and Flavours) in Forcalquier. The university hosts a perfumer workshop in Cordeliers Convent, a building surrounded by a scented floral garden. Created by Master Perfumer Lucien Ferrero from Grasse, the two-hour course invites beginners to improve their olfactory knowledge, learn the bases of a perfume composition and use their new skills to create a customized and unique scent. There are also three Galimard perfume workshops in Grasse, France's foremost city for perfume production. Workshops cost between $75 and $150, a small price to pay to capture "l'art de vivre à la française" (the French art of living).
- Weave a sweetgrass basket in South Carolina - Sweetgrass baskets are a tradition in the South Carolina lowcountry that dates back to the 1700s. Made from coiled strands of bundled grass, they are beautiful, durable and a culturally significant piece of the area's history. Get a first-hand lesson from an eighth-generation weaver Vera Manigault at Hopswee Plantation in Georgetown, S.C., or learn the craft from a local Gullah basket maker at the Coastal Discovery Center on Hilton Head Island, S.C., where you can also partake in a number of other outdoor activities from nature tours to history walks.
Travellers can craft ceramics in Nepal, paper lanterns in Taiwan, blown glass in Italy, calligraphy in China and get a traditional tattoo in Tahiti. For the entire list of DIY souvenir destinations, visit Cheapflights.ca's Top 10 places to create your own souvenir at www.cheapflights.ca/news/make-your-own-custom-souvenirs.
About Cheapflights.ca, part of the Momondo Group
Founded in 1996, Cheapflights is a leading global flight comparison and deals publishing platform dedicated to taking the complexity out of finding the best value flights through the application of innovative, intuitive technologies: Smart search. Made simple. It is now a market leader in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand generating more than C$4 billion in global downstream revenue for its partners as it expands into numerous other territories. More than 120 million users visit its websites and apps each year, receiving more than two billion search results a month from across 900,000 routes. The 10 million strong opt-in subscribers to the Cheapflights newsletter receive the best deals from more than 120 travel businesses -- for whom it has driven more than C$80 million in revenue this year. Together, the Cheapflights platforms generate enough bookings for its partners to fill a Boeing 747 every five minutes.
In 2011, Cheapflights became part of the privately owned online travel search and inspiration network, Momondo Group.
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