There are lots of very clever travel apps out there these days. But I’ll admit I was particularly excited when I discovered one of my favourite travelling companions – the Point It book – had been made into an iPhone app.
If you’ve missed the Point It book over the years, it’s one of those strokes of simple genius…. a book that has pictures of things that you point to when you’re trying to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language.
Described as a “traveller’s language kit” it actually sidesteps language altogether by taking out all those pesky spoken and written words.
It’s organised into handy sections such as a food, shopping, and transport, with sections like a car trouble page, where you share with someone whether you have a flat tyre, or have pranged the car. (Hopefully pages you’ll never actually need to point to, but nice to know they’re ready to help save you if you do.)
Sure, it can cramp your charades style, but how nice to be able to avoid some of the more embarrassing mimes to convey a need for condoms or toilet paper.
There are some very important pages showing food options, including a range of animals that you can point at to show what your own ethical code allows you to eat, and what you like to avoid (whether they serve that remains a mystery, of course, but it’s good to be able to ask).
There are even pictures to explain what part of a creature you’d like to eat, and how well you’d like that meat to be cooked. A page I could do with pointing at in some English speaking restaurants around the world.
The great thing about the book itself is it’s very small – about the size of a smart phone in fact – and of course it can’t run out of batteries. So if you’re going off the beaten track, you’d be better off with a copy of the old school Point It book.
But I love having the app version in my phone as well. It’s so easy to just pull up when it’s needed, and as well as being a useful tool, it’s a hit with a lot of fellow travellers who haven’t come across it before.
If you haven’t already got your own Point It book or app, and you want to join the happy club, then they’re easy to find.
The Point It iPhone and iPad app is found in the app store (what a shock) and costs $2.99. Bargain!
Or you can buy the book itself. I found my first one at the Tate Modern in London, back before smart phones were invented, and have seen it in many an art gallery gift shop ever since.
But it’s also found in some travel shops and many good bookstores. Just explain to them that it’s the Point it Book by Graf Editions and that it doesn’t have an author as such when they ask.
So how about you? Have you had fun travels over the years with the Point It book? And what’s the travel app you like to recommend to your friends?