All of us who’ve been exploring beyond the major cities and touristic spots, know that English won’t take you everywhere (French and Spanish neither). At most places you will also need a bit of imagination, a lot of body language and some basic knowledge of the local language if you don’t want to feel terribly lost.
But today I’m writing about one great idea that most travelers ignore: travel dictionaries based in icons that allow you to communicate without having to learn every language or to become a pro at drawing. Plus, they all come in a perfect size for you to take them everywhere easily.
These are the top options available worldwide:
Kwikpoint, a kitsch design and an entrepreneurial mind that make one of the first picto-dictionary for travelers. It has some colorful booklets that you use just by pointing out when you want to ask or say something.
A similar option (and a more modern one) is Lonely Planet’s visual dictionary for travelers, called Just Point! which also has a slightly different format, with moving cards instead of the booklet format.
Another alternative are the Me No Speak booklets. The main difference is that you will need different booklets for different languages, as they are meant to be used with locals who can read and speak the local language. The good part is they can help you with learning a few things in the local language (and try speaking a bit.)
Another interesting alternative on the pure graphic side is ICOON, which is also available as an iPhone app. They have a more modern drawing, more icons (up to 3000), some basic expressions to point to and different cover designs.
As you can see, they are very interesting options to consider adding to our handbag when traveling abroad. Specially if you don’t want to risk having no Roaming data or access to Google Images.