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.

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.

Multiple Colors

A double-wall design keeps drinks hot or cold down to the last drop. YETI

Check Price

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.

Easy to Carry

Toss this compact option in your purse or briefcase when it’s empty. YETI

Check Price

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.

Prevents Messes

Keeps drinks hot for up to 5 hours, or cold for 12. Contigo

Check Price

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.