Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Welcome to Travel Non-Essentials,
where T+L editors Mark Orwoll and Nikki
Ekstein sound off on a different breed of travel product—sometimes
ingenious, sometimes just plain odd. Today: Kwikpoint International Travel
Translator. What It Does: This laminated pocketsize
translator by Kwikpoint ($17) uses "visual language," or pictograms, for
communicating in places where you don't speak the language. Orwoll and
Ekstein check it out to decide if it's a must-have, or just a nice-to-have.
NE: Here's a little gadget-y thing that I'm just kind of obsessed with.
I just called it a gadget-y thing, but it's actually the most analog thing
we've reviewed yet. MO: It's almost primitive in concept. And I'm
not saying that in a negative way. NE: It opens up to reveal what is
actually a universal translator. Key phrases and words are illustrated
instead of translated into individual languages, so that you can just point to
drawings to communicate all around the world. MO: You want to get bunk
beds in your hotel room that you've just stopped at in Bucharest, and you
don't know how to say "bunk beds"? Well, they've got a picture of bunk
beds. If you want a cheap room or an expensive room, they have pictures of
one, two, and three dollar signs—which is fine, except that most of the
world doesn't use dollar signs. NE: Oh, that's a funny point. MO:
But they have every category you can think of: travel, eating out, food,
emergencies, medical, personal things… NE: My favorite one is the
allergies section, because this is something that most phrase books don't
cover—and that's really important. You've got all sorts of little
diagrams here for things like crustaceans or different types of fruits or
peanuts or eggs or gluten or dairy. And you've got a face in the middle
that's all broken out in hives and sweating and rashy. It's very clear
what you're trying to say. "I am gluten-free, thank you very much. "
MO: This could be very practical to carry around in your back pocket, no
question about it. NE: There are some funny things under the personal
section. You've got some sanitary needs going on here—Band-Aids and
tampons, babies and diapers, bug spray. The whole nine yards. MO: If you
go into a pharmacy in a foreign country and there's a language barrier, it
would be nice to be able to just point to something to the pharmacist or
whoever's behind the counter and let them get it for you. What's this on
the back? It looks like there are things spelled out for you. Are they key
phrases? NE: We've got some key phrases in French, Spanish, Arabic,
Portuguese, German, Russian, Mandarin, Italian, and Japanese, which is
helpful. But really, it's about the drawings. Let me try to ask you a
travel question just by pointing to things on here and we'll see if you
understand me. I'm going to use a real question I had to ask in Italy last
time I was there… just give me a second while I find the right icons…
[Nikki browses the manual trying to figure out how to best ask her question. ]
NE: It does require a little bit of browsing… Okay, getting closer… You
know, I really would have to practice what it was I wanted to ask for, because
this is taking some time. MO: This is something you'd have to become
familiar with before you used it. You couldn't just come up to a complete
stranger and make them stop while you spent five minutes trying to figure out
what it was you were trying to say. NE: [Still looking at the images.
]  I think I'm going to have to supplement these with some body
language. MO: She's pointing to a man holding his stomach. She's got
a stomach ache. Now she's pointing to her actual foot. She's got a foot
ache? Somebody kicked her in the stomach? You need some pills for a stomach
ache… Or for your ankle. NE: I was looking for a symbol of just a
general ache. MO: All right, you've got problems with your ankle. I
sort of get it, yeah. Well, it's not perfect. So what's your final take
on this? You really like this translator. NE: For how tiny it is, I think
it serves a pretty great function. Even if it's not perfect in every
situation. It's a crutch you can use. MO: Put it in your pants pocket
or your jacket pocket. Doesn't take up any room to speak of. It's one of
those things that I would just keep in my empty suitcase and have with me
whenever I travel. And if I ended up in a destination where I didn't speak
the language, I would have it. I would say go for it. NE: Yeah!
VERDICT: A must-have. More good reads from T+L:
• 20 Exciting New Hotels on the Summer 2015 Radar
• 40 Reasons to Travel Now
• Best Countries for Solo Travelers Did you
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Essential Guide to Etiquette on Japan's Rail System This laminated
pocketsize translator by Kwikpoint ($17) uses "visual language," or
pictograms, for communicating in places where you don't speak the language.
Read on for the review.

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