New gadgets are invented all the time, but a few of them can really make a difference to your travels. Once in awhile something comes along that's small, fun, useful, original - or all of the above. Something that I would certainly want to find in my Christmas stocking.

Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #18

  • 12 Wonderful Gadgets for Women on the Road
  • What's New on the Website
  • Travel News from Across the Web
  • Cause of the Month: Child Marriage - Too Young by Anyone's Standard
  • Coming Soon! Free travel writing e-course - exclusively for readers of this ezine!

12 Wonderful Gadgets for Women on the Road

1. Space Bag
These fun bags push the air out between clothes and help reduce the volume of everything you pack. They can shrink your clothes volume by up to 75% (don't go overboard and pack the whole house though) and also keep out water and mildew, as well as creepy crawlies. They make packing so much easier!

2. Personal Locator Beacon
Known as PLBs, these little critters transmit your location back to a home base from anywhere in the world. Equipped with GPS, a search and rescue base receives a satellite signal if you activate the PLB and sends someone out to help you. I would love to carry this little item when I'm traveling in areas that are far from regular emergency services.

3. Perpetual Flashlight
Worried about running out of batteries off the beaten track? Or about staying green? This flashlight doesn't use batteries: when it runs out, just shake it back and forth and it recharges for 20-30 minutes. Something to do with a coil and magnet... Just keep on shaking and your flashlight keeps on lighting.

4. Pocket Survival Pak
Put together by noted survival expert Doug Ritter, this unique affordable pocket-sized survival kit is chock-full of supplies - ranging from a firestarter to a whistle to a rescue signal mirror. There's also a compass, duct tape, wire, needle and thread (the sturdy kind), aluminum foil, a scalpel, instructions and much more. There's nothing optional about this "gadget" - there's no way you should leave home without one.

5. Pedometer
If you're the kind of woman who worries about not getting enough exercise, a pedometer will measure how many steps you take each day. I'm told you need to walk 10,000 steps a day to stay in shape so keeping track will help you get there. I clip mine on every morning - just press the Reset button and a new day begins.

6. Swisscard
This is your basic Swiss Army Knife - but shaped like a credit card. Nestled in its side are the usual tweezers, scissors, screwdriver, pen, letter opener, and a mini-light. Just slip it into one of your photographer's vest pockets and you'll always be prepared.

7. Trackstick
I've never tried this one but it sounds wonderful - it retraces your steps by uploading your route to Google Earth. You'll need a computer to see your route - but if you're on an intricate journey, this will help jog your memory and provide you with a great electronic map of where you've been.

8. Gorillapod
Ever wonder how to precariously balance your camera on a fence to get that perfect wildlife shot? Or through the bushes to capture that magnificent chateau lurking just behind? Fear no more, Gorillapod is here! Just wrap its flexible legs around that fence or bench and bingo, a proper tripod for your wobbly camera.

9. Superpen Translator or Handheld Translator
The Superpen Translator is pen-sized (like its name, right?) - just scan a line of text in English and ole! It's back at you in Spanish. If you'd rather type, try the Handheld Translator, which has a small screen (and tiny keyboard). This could spell the end of the phrasebook as we know it...

10. FLIP Mino
I have one of these and it's just about my favorite gadget. It's a video camera the size of a cigarette pack: you just press Record and it does. You can play back and erase. Simple - and perfect for the technically challenged. To upload automatically, just stick the Flip directly into your computer USB drive. And that's about it, for up to an hour's shooting. It may not be high resolution, but it's perfectly fine for sharing your videos on the web.

11. SteriPen Ultraviolet Bacteria and Pathogen Killing Water Wand
If you're traveling to any developing country you can't disregard water purity. Most other purification systems are bulky, and pills often aren't strong enough. Just stick the SteriPen in your glass or bottle, turn it on, wait a minute - and drink.

12. Portable Wedge Alarm
Slide this wedge alarm under any door. If someone tries to open it, they'll be hit with a 120 decibel screech that should send them screeching.

What's New This Month on Women on the Road, the Website

Music Pilgrimages
Track down Beethoven's haunts in Vienna, tour Elvis's Graceland or follow the Beatles' trail from Liverpool to London.

International Pet Travel
What do you do if Fido decides to come along?

Senior Volunteering
Many volunteer organizations are dropping their upper age limits so if you're young at heart and want to volunteer, you have a vast array of opportunities to choose from.

Travel News From Across the Web

Why Travel is So Addictive

8 Tour-Isms You've Never Heard Of

10 Countries Where You Can Enjoy Hot Springs

The 10 Best Zen Stories for Travelers

13 Spectacular Asian World Heritage Sites

10 Places to Catch Insane City Views

Around the World in 80 Yoga Poses

For art lovers...

5 Best Mood Matching Museums

...and food lovers

What's in a Smorgasbord?

11 Common Foods to Naturally Relieve Illness While Traveling

Destination Travel

10 Reasons Why Colombia Isn't As Dangerous As You Think

US Calls For Stricter Tourism Guidelines in Antarctica

8 Reasons Why Lima is More Than a Layover

Practical Things

Single Visa in E. Africa to Cover 5 Countries

Cause of the Month: Ending Child Marriage - Too Young By Anyone's Standard

Saudi Arabia's Justice Minister says he plans to enact laws that will prevent child marriage.

Why the change of heart?

Because in April a Saudi court upheld the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a man nearly 40 years her senior, arranged by her father to settle a debt. The condition? That the husband would not have sex with the girl before her puberty. However, no mention was made of how to police this promise...

The court even refused to grant a divorce requested by her mother on the grounds that the parents were separated, ruling that the girl could always ask for her own divorce once she reached puberty.

So at last, this country may finally try to protect girls from what can only be called child slavery. But before the law changes it will have to be studied, and all sorts of cultural taboos will have to be fought. Who knows how long that will take and how many other children will be bought into captivity during that time.

Still, the Justice Minister's announcement is a welcome ray of light in an otherwise very dark night. The only other good news is that the court verdict confirming the marriage has outraged as many people inside Saudi Arabia as it has beyond the Kingdom's borders, and there is no shortage of campaigns to end child marriage.

And there has been an outcry. UNICEF's head and the US State Department both called it a violation of human rights. In Saudi Arabia, a women's rights group said achieving human rights meant standing against those who would "keep us backward and in the dark ages."

Unfortunately, this girl's marriage isn't an exception. Experts and non-governmental groups have heard of many other cases, often because Saudis themselves speak out in anger, especially when the girls are sold to older men.

Have you ever dreamed of getting paid to write about travel?

If you have, this could be what you've been waiting for - a seven-day online e-course on how to write and sell your articles, all of it absolutely free to readers of Women on the Road NEWS. So please keep an eye out for this special treat - it should be ready in a month or so.

Next Month in Women on the Road NEWS?

The Inns and Outs of Homestays

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Happy travels! Leyla