I'm looking at grabbing a camera for my trip. I have a Nikon D50 right now, but while I'm very happy with the pictures it takes, it's way too bulky to carry with me everywhere I go. On the other hand, most compacts either have tiny sensors, a wide end starting at 35mm, or a complete dearth of manual controls.
However, there's a new class of compacts on the market, and the latest generation of them look very promising. They're pocketable, have pretty low pixel density for compacts, manual features, and nice, wide zooms. The one I'm particularly lusting after at the moment is the Panasonic DMC-LX3.
It's classy, professional-looking (remind you of Leica a little?), has a fast F2.0 24mm wide-end (and an optional 18mm converter), and apparently takes some pretty legit photos (review roundup at RAWsumer). With image stabilization, adequate performance at ISO 800, and a f2 aperture, low-light no-flash photos should be well within reach, something usually tough to do without an APS-C sensor to deal with noise. The Panny lists at $499, but there's currently a deal going that has it as cheap as $339, which is a hell of a discount but it can be found for less.
*Update: *Got my camera, and it's pretty cool. It can take any 46mm filters or attachment lenses, so I really want to find a cheap fisheye and see how that works. I'll articulate my thoughts in more detail later, but for now, there's a big review roundup at Rawsumer.