In preparation for an upcoming trip to Beijing, I was recently given a Me No Speak Language Companion. A twist on the traditional phrase book format and design, the Me No Speak book provides small illustrations labeled in both English and Chinese so that you can point to images when trying to communicate.
This is especially effective when traveling to countries that use a different alphabet or set of characters. Oftentimes, especially with Mandarin, slipping up on even the pronunciation of a syllable can change the whole meaning of a word. So instead of ordering the noodles you could be asking for snake blood by mistake. With Me No Speak you can be sure to avoid such situations.
Conveniently pocket-sized, I'll have it on me throughout the trip so if I'm ever in need of a doctor, train station or some new underwear I won't have to mime it, I can just point to it. Purchase one for China, Japan or Thailand for $10 from Me No Speak.