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Whether it is a replica Eiffel Tower from Paris or a lovely seashell found on a Fiji beach, every souvenir we collect brings home pleasant memories. But an item that you make yourself—perhaps a decorated T-shirt from a prestigious art museum, or a beautiful lei from Hawaii—can be particularly meaningful and memory-laden because of the time you invested in making it in the place it represents. Here are some our favorite places to make a one-of-kind, DIY souvenirs to take home. Be sure to make a reservation!

RELATED: America’s most amazing vintage record stores

Napa, CA

Blend your own wine 

The Taming The Lion Wine Blending Experience at the Hess Collection Winery in Napa includes a tour of the vineyard and wine production area. It is offered every day but Saturday. After experimenting with blending three varietals, student winemakers compare their blend with Hess’s signature Lion Tamer Red Blend.  Tastings occur throughout. When finished, everyone takes home a bottle of their own custom blend. Also, don’t miss the winery’s stellar free art museum!

Honolulu, HI

Make your own lei

Hawaii hotels are famous for offering workshops where you can learn to make a lei from fresh flowers—often local orchids—or perhaps a hula skirt from fresh ti leaves. Lest you think you can’t take these fresh flower creations home with you, rest assured these items tend to hold up in dried form. The Surfjack Hotel offers free Aloha Friday workshops where hotel guests can make fresh-flower lei wristlets or bracelets from lauhala leaves, and the public is welcome to join if space allows.

Lincoln City, OR

Blow your own glass fishing float

Hand-blown glass floats from Japanese fishing nets were once frequently found on the wind-blown beaches of this Oregon coastal town. Nowadays they are harder to come by. But all Lincoln City visitors can leave happy, because they can blow their very own colorful glass float at Lincoln City Glass Center. Alternatively, you can make a paperweight or a bowl.

Pittsburgh, PA

Silkscreen an Andy Warhol T-shirt

At the comprehensive Andy Warhol Museum, which focuses solely on the Pittsburgh-born artist’s work, visitors can silkscreen their own T-shirt or tote bag in Warhol’s famed pop style. In a studio dubbed The Factory, participants select a Warhol image and paint colors, and then are helped along with the silkscreening process.

Georgetown, SC

Weave a sweetgrass basket

Making sweetgrass baskets—a tradition brought to this area by West African slaves—is a popular craft throughout South Carolina.  The baskets are made of tightly coiled grass and prized for their artistry. In Georgetown, about an hour from Myrtle Beach, you can learn how to make one for yourself when you add a class to your tour of the circa 1740 Hopswee Plantation. Be sure to also reserve afternoon tea in its top-rated tea room.

Austin, TX

Write your own song
In the “Live Music Capital of the World,” guests of the Four Seasons hotel in Austin can arrange for a song-writing session with a local musician. The sessions includes a crash course in musical composition and theory, plus help with writing a unique new song.

Tacoma, WA

Blow your own Chihuly-inspired glass object

In Tacoma, the town of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly’s birth, inside his spectacular Museum of Glass, visitors can create a beautiful piece of glass art. Participants are assisted by artists on the Hot Shop floor, and can choose from a variety of items to make—a paperweight, an ornament or a signature Chihuly flower. You’ll need to plan ahead because these workshops occur only once a month on specific weekends.

Curacao, Caribbean

Paint your own chichi doll in Punda
Most everyone who has seen a colorful, fully-rounded chichi doll wants one. Learn to make your own chichi, which means “big sister” in the local Papiamento dialect, at the Serena Art Factory in Punda. That’s where they produce the doll body sculptures, offer factory tour and regularly offer a drop-in morning classes, as well as an evening workshop offsite that includes sparkling wine.

St. Martin, Caribbean

Blend your own perfume in Tijon

In a small shop on the French side of the island, discover how fragrances are created and then create your own. After participants select from a vast variety of oils, expert perfumologists assist with mixing them. Then you choose a name. Your custom fragrance is put in an attractive bottle and given a custom label, and you can reorder later. Sign up here.

Tagged: Caribbean, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Events, Texas, Texas, Tips & advice, Top 10 list

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Carole is a Berkeley-based travel writer who most especially enjoys cultural and culinary travel. She contributes to an assortment of publications and is the author of 18 books. Carole oversees two websites, and, and she blogs at
Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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Trips to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America are pretty cheap this time of year, what with June to November being Atlantic hurricane season. If you can’t resist a great deal, you can still snag a bargain vacation and reduce your odds of getting hurricaned on. Just follow these tips.

Related: Luxury for less: How to get a cheap Mexico vacation


1) Avoid hurricane hot spots. While there are no guarantees in life, some destinations are more hurricane-prone than others. To avoid islands outside of the so-called hurricane belt, focus on the southern Caribbean and remember your ABCs—ArubaBonaire and Curaçao are generally safer bets for avoiding a direct hit.

2) Book last-minute. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If your schedule is flexible, then check the extended weather forecast and book your trip when the coast is clear—literally. The CheapTickets Last-Minute Flight and Travel Deals page can help you find bargains in a hurry.

3) Get the insurance. You’re already saving a bundle by vacationing during the off-season. Do yourself a favor and buy travel insurance. Packages generally cost between 5 and 10 percent of the value of your trip; insurance on, say, a $1,500 trip would cost around$150. Make sure your policy includes “trip cancellation and interruption,” and check to see if your credit card company automatically includes insurance on trips you’ve paid for with the card.

4) Fly smart. If possible, book a direct flight and avoid checking your luggage to avoid needless hassles like missed connections and lost luggage.

5) Be an airport ace. When flights get cancelled, airports turn into an episode of Survivor. Stay one step ahead of your fellow passengers by arriving the your gate early and hanging out near the kiosk so you can hear updates and get your name on the list for food and hotel vouchers, should they be offered. Share your contact info with the gate agent, and keep your cell phone charged so you’ll be accessible to the airline and. Also download the FlightStats app so you can see when seats become available.

6) Document everything. If you find yourself stranded, hold onto your receipts for food, cab rides, hotel rooms and other expenses so you can be reimbursed by your insurance company. Use an app like TinyScan to limit the paperwork.

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Tagged: Caribbean, Cruise, Jamaica, Mexico

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.