The "small tool from IBM" that Grant refers to is called an "IBM modem saver", the IBM part number for it is 73G5395. It is the same size and shape as a ballpoint pen, therefore very easy to carry.
Targus makes a set of phone adapters for just about every country in the world. On my most recent trip through Western and Central Europe, I stayed in moderately priced hotels, guest houses, etc. every night (60 nights) and found that about 50% of the hotels had the standard RJ-11 phone jacks (no adapter needed), 20% had the old-fashioned phone jack that would have required an adapter, and 30% either had the phone hardwired into the wall, or the hotel phone system would not support a computer connection because it was PBX, had a switchboard, etc (adapter would not have helped).
I think you could get away without either the adapters or the modem tester if you were willing to just ask the hotel (ideally late in the evening) if you could use their fax line to check your email. I have never found a hotel that does not have a fax somewhere, and the fax will have a RJ11 plug.
The real issue is having a dial up ISP that has local access numbers in all the countries you plan to visit. I use ATT Global, they are pretty good, for most countries in the world they have either a toll free number you dial, or they will have a local number close to the city you are in. They cover most of the rat-holes of the world as well, places where you are lucky to find a phone, they will have an access number.
[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 05 August 2002).]