Many of us have known the humiliation of uttering an ill-chosen word or fractured phrase while trying to speak in a foreign tongue. To spare us further embarrassment comes Kwikpoint's International Translator, a folding, laminated card with hundreds of color symbols. Just point to the appropriate picture--a doctor, an air conditioner, a fish on a plate--and voila! It may help you get a nonsmoking room in a French hotel or a burger in Bahrain. (It's helped Olympic athletes and U.S. soldiers abroad.) A wallet-size translator, with 100 symbols, costs $4; the larger size, with 600 symbols, is $7. Or $10 for both. Available at Rand McNally bookstores, luggage stores, or by ordering from Gaia Communications, P.O. Box 238, Alexandria, Va. 22313-0238, Dept. LT.
For anyone who has ever spent a fitful night in a one-star European pension or rustic cabin wondering what lurks between you and the box spring, the DreamSack may be your ticket to sweet slumber.
Sewn on three sides, the 100% silk bed liner is a luxurious, lightweight alternative to traveling with a sleeping bag or linens. Veteran traveler Nancy Morgan of Ashland, Ore., invented the DreamSack during an extended stay in China. She found the silk sacks more comfortable and less cumbersome than the sewn-together sheets her family had been using.
DreamSacks come in several sizes--none weighing more than a pound and all machine washable--and fold up into a small carrying pouch. Available in four colors, from $55 to $69. WestWind Trading Co., (800) 670-7661.
In the Bag
"I like to call them tube socks for luggage," says Annette Zientek, owner of Christine Columbus, an online travel-products catalog that sells the Lugvelope, a nylon bag that encloses suitcases. "They not only protect your luggage from being manhandled and make old bags look better, they can also disguise quality luggage so it won't be targeted for theft."
Made of durable denier nylon, the Lugvelope won't interfere with the luggage's wheels, and handles poke through a slot at the top. When the "tube sock" gets dirty, just throw it in the wash.
Lugvelopes, made by Travel Technologies Inc., come in assorted sizes in either grapefruit yellow or black. Prices start at $22 from Christine Columbus, (800) 280-4775, or on the Internet at http://www.christinecolumbus.com.
Ready for Rain
A challenge of cold-weather travel--packing the protection without the bulk--has gotten a little easier. TravelSmith's microfiber raincoat is a water-repellent, lightweight and wrinkle-resistant alternative to schlepping around a heavy overcoat or getting soaked. It looks pretty good, too.
An optional liner gives the polyester and rayon coat extra versatility. Women's coats feature a foldaway hood, draw-cord waist and cape back to deflect raindrops. Men's coats have zipped interior security pockets. Best of all, the jacket folds neatly into a pouch for easy packing.
Raincoats start at $159, with cold-weather liner extra. Women's coats are olive or black. Men's come in taupe or black. TravelSmith Outfitters, (800) 950-1600.