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What is a Travel Mug?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 16, 2024
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A travel mug is designed for taking hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, along while traveling. These mugs are most frequently used when traveling by car. However, they can also be used for carrying beverages on board buses, trains, and even boats. Though travel mugs are frequently used in vehicles, they also make frequent appearances at parks, sporting events, meetings, malls, and similar locations.

A travel mug usually has a spill-proof lid. This lid is designed to keep liquids from spilling out when cars go over bumps or as the result of the user's bouncy stride. The spill-proof design is also helpful for keeping heat inside the cup. Many have mechanisms that allow the user to take a quick sip of his or her beverage and reclose the lid with very little effort. This type of lid is often referred to as a spill-proof, drink-through lid.

When choosing a travel mug, many individuals recommend avoiding those with snap-on lids. These lids are known to pop off at the most inopportune times, sometimes causing painful burns. Even if users manage to escape burns, they may not be as fortunate when it comes to spills and stains. Screw-on lids are considered a far safer alternative.

Typically, travel mugs are insulated, keeping beverages hot and hands comfortable; some people recommend choosing a double-insulated mug for better performance. Though plastic mugs are available in a variety of colors, many recommend buying one made of stainless steel. Stainless steel versions are easier to clean and are said to keep beverages hot for a longer period of time. If you decide to opt for a plastic travel mug, it may be helpful to choose one with a stainless steel liner. The deterioration common with plastic-lined mugs leads to off-tasting beverages.

One of the most beneficial travel mug features is the design of its base. Unlike regular mugs, these mugs are made to fit easily within vehicle cup holders. However, some people have a preference for wide-base mugs that are incapable of fitting in most cup holders. If you prefer this type of travel mug, consider one with a nonslip bottom to help you avoid spills.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a HomeQuestionsAnswered writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon945688 — On Apr 14, 2014

Stainless steel may be more expensive but it sure does have better value and lasts longer than any other material.

By anon945687 — On Apr 14, 2014

If you want a travel mug that retains heat or cold the most, then stainless steel is the best choice. Plastics can't retain heat for more than an hour and ceramic no more than half an hour. They can also break easily when knocked over.

By clintflint — On Nov 12, 2013

I've seen some really cheap ceramic travel mugs for sale online recently, but if you really want something convenient I would pay a little bit extra and get one made out of stainless steel or a material that isn't going to chip or shatter if you drop it.

Travel mugs get walked around with a lot more than ordinary mugs, even if it is only just to the car and back and it's inevitable that you will drop them once or twice.

By bythewell — On Nov 11, 2013

@Mor - Another tip is that you can use a travel coffee mug to make yogurt. I like making my own natural yogurt, but it took me a while to find a way to make it that wasn't a pain in the neck. You have to keep the milk warm and at a relatively stable temperature for a period of time while the culture develops and it can be tricky. But a thermos works well.

As long as you clean it out properly each time so that it doesn't start to smell of sour milk.

By Mor — On Nov 10, 2013

Something that I never really thought about until I moved to a hot area was that a thermos travel mug can actually be used to keep drinks cold as well. If you throw in a bit of ice and keep it out of direct light it can be very effective. Depending on what the drink is and how long you're planning to leave it, you might want to just freeze the whole thing overnight and then let it thaw out during the next day (although be careful not to crack your thermos with the ice).

There's nothing nicer than getting into a hot car on a hot day and having a cold drink handy to cool yourself down.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a HomeQuestionsAnswered writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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