Three Things to Consider Before Buying Your Next Travel Mug

A good travel mug will keep your hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold while your hands are on the wheel and your eyes are on the road.

Contigo Travel Mug
Travel mugs come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure one fits in your vehicles cup holder before you buy.Contigo

Travel mugs aren’t just for travel. After all, who likes lukewarm coffee, even at home or the office? Same goes for ice water and iced tea—why drink it warm if you don’t have to? Travel mugs of years past weren’t much better than Styrofoam cups with lids to help avoid drastic spills. But newer, high-tech travel mugs are the perfect tool for keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, even on long travel days. Consider these factors when shopping for you next mug.

Materials and Insulation

YETI Rambler Stainless Steel insulated travel mug
This stainless-steel vacuum-insulated tumbler from Yeti will ensure your drink keeps its temperature regardless of the surrounding air temperature.YETI

The length of time your travel mug will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold depends mostly on what material it is made from and how it is constructed. Travel mugs are typically made of one of four materials: stainless steel, plastic, ceramic, and glass. While each has its advantages and disadvantages, stainless steel generally keeps hot drinks hot longer and are the most durable, which is important if your mug bangs around on the car floorboard once it’s empty. The best stainless-steel mugs have two steel walls with insulating air sandwiched in between, which works to keep drinks the temperature you want. Some of these can be quite expensive, but for true coffee lovers, the price isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.

Size

YETI Rambler vacuum-insulated mug
This small vacuum-insulated mug has all the features of larger Yetis, along with a handle.YETI

Since many people use their travel mugs for cold drinks, too, they are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Those who just want to drink a cup of coffee on a short commute to work might prefer a smaller mug that only holds 12 ounces or so. At the other extreme, someone who wants to keep his iced tea cold all the way to his destination 250 miles away will likely want one much larger—32 ounces or even more. One word of caution when purchasing a travel mug: make sure the base of it will fit in your vehicle’s drink holders. Some mugs and tumblers are oversized at the base to prevent tipping, and that can be a good thing. But if the mug won’t fit in your cup holder, spills are much more likely.

Other Features

Contigo Travel Mug
Along with keeping coffee hot for five hours, this travel mug also features a spill-proof lid.Contigo

While the mug’s material and size are important, obviously there are other considerations. One is what special features a mug might have that makes using it more convenient. A handle is one such feature that some people find handy, although some prefer no handle at all. A no-spill lid is also good for making sure your coffee doesn’t end up somewhere other than your mouth. However, some lids make it hard to drink out of the mug, rendering it a useless addition. Easy-clean lids that come completely off make it easier to wash out the inside of your travel mug. Speaking of washing, some travel mugs are listed as dishwasher safe, which is a lot more convenient than washing them by hand after every use. Finally, some mugs come with a carry loop built into the lids. It might not sound important, but if you already have your hands full of keys, glasses, and other items when getting out of your vehicle, it sure makes it easy to just stick your pinky through the loop and keep going.