11 Thoughtful Gifts for Commuters

iStock.com/LeoPatrizi
iStock.com/LeoPatrizi

Whether they get to work by bike, car, train, or foot, most commuters could use something to make their twice-daily trips a little easier. This holiday season, consider giving a gift that may actually make the commuter in your life look forward to heading to the office.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. Sykes Wood Fenders


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The fenders from Sykes do more than protect bikes and bikers from rain, mud, and dust. Each piece is crafted from stain-free, dye-free wood, which means it will add rustic style to any ride. Sykes fenders come in a variety of woods, including walnut, white oak, blond bamboo, mahogany, and cherry. Epoxy lamination and multiple coatings of marine varnish help them last through years of travel.

Find It: Sykes Wood Fenders for $175 and up

2. Hub Mini

Portable phone charger.
Amazon

Stranded in a car or train with a dead smartphone is a commuter’s worst nightmare. The Hub Mini ensures that a smartphone will outlast any traffic jam. The external battery pack comes with a lightning cable built in, eliminating the need for commuters to carry their phone charger with them at all times. It also includes an integrated micro-USB cable and a USB-A port, so it’s possible to plug three devices into the charger at once.

Find It: Amazon for $50 and at these other retailers:

3. Tapplock; $100


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Give the commuter in your life the gift of peace of mind this holiday season. The Tapplock keeps bikes secure throughout the work day with stainless steel shackles, a double-layered lock design, and anti-shim and anti-pry technologies. It opens after scanning the owner's fingerprint, and thanks to its adaptive algorithm, it works faster and more accurately with each use. The Tapplock is waterproof and weatherproof, making it great for locking up bikes, but it works anywhere a padlock does.

Find It: Tapplock for $100

4. Wall-mounted Bike Rack and Shelf; $140 and up

Bike mounted on wall.
Etsy

Etsy shop Quartertwenty has made the space-saving wall-mounted bike rack even more practical. This rack doubles as a shelf, and it can be used whether or not the bike is on display. Just select the materials you like best (maple ply, walnut, and white oak are some of the options) and Quartertwenty will ship the rack for you to install in your home.

Find It: Etsy for $140 and up

5. Plugfones

Ear buds that look like ear plugs.
Amazon

Noise-blocking headphones don’t have to be bulky. The Plugfones take design inspiration from the earplugs people where to concerts and sporting events, muffling environmental noise by up to 26 decibels while allowing wearers to listen to their preferred audio discreetly. They’re great for public transit commuters looking to tune out the world (or the loud sounds of public transit) on the way to the office.

Find It: Amazon for $20 and at these other retailers:

6. TravelPro BackpacK

Backpack with pockets.
TravelPro

If commuters ever need to take their work home with them, the Travelpro backpack gives them the option. The bag has special compartments for laptops, tablets, pens, headphones, and chargers. And if wearers are traveling with sensitive materials like a passport or credit card, they can store those items in the ID TheftBlock pocket where they’ll be protected from identity theft scanners.

Find It: TravelPro for $240 and at these other retailers:

7. Moko Travel Mug

Collapsible travel mug.
Amazon

Travel mugs are great—until you’re stuck lugging around an empty one all day. The Moko travel mug solves this problem for commuters. It’s collapsable, making it easier to carry or slip into a bag when it’s not being used. Unfold the cup and it can hold up 12 ounces of liquid while keeping the contents warm.

Find It: Amazon for $9 and at these other retailers:

8. Audible Membership

Women listening to phone on train.
iStock.com/Pekic

Rush hour goes a lot faster when you’re listening to a good audiobook. If you know a book lover who drives or takes public transit to work, make their commute more enjoyable by giving them an Audible membership. You can pay for a one-month, three-month, six-month, or 12-month membership. Each plan comes with one book credit per month plus access to monthly Audible originals.

Find It: Audible for $15 and up

9. Storm Glass

Glass with crystals in it.
Amazon

There are many apps out there that will give you the weather forecast, but not many do so with the same flare as Storm Glass. Using 19th-century technology, this desktop device reacts to changes in air pressure and temperature to signal the day’s weather. Based on how many crystals form at the bottom of the glass, owners can decide whether or not they should grab a jacket before heading to work.

Find It: Amazon for $42 and at these other retailers:

10. Kensington Chelsea Boot

Beige rain boot.
Cougar

There’s no reason to sacrifice comfort for style when hoofing it to the office. These slip-on boots from Cougar are comfier than most professional footwear, with memory-molded insoles and knit lining. They’re also waterproof, so they’ll keep feet feeling snug and dry even on the rainiest days.

Find It: Cougar for $70

11. Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

Air purifying bag in car cup holder.
Amazon

Not all car air fresheners smell like pine trees. Instead of filling a car’s interior with an artificial scent, this bamboo and charcoal bag absorbs odors in the air, leaving it smelling naturally fresh. The air purifier is an effective tool for car commuters, but it can cover up to 90 square feet in a home as well.

Find It: Amazon for $10 and at these other retailers:

10 Cozy Mugs for Everyone on Your Holiday Gift List

iStock
iStock

A mug is the perfect all-purpose gift. It’s just as appropriate for your office Secret Santa as it is for your best friend. But in a world stacked to the brim with cool drinking vessels for warm beverages, which to choose? Take a look at these 11 whimsical, wonderful mugs that will please just about everyone on your holiday shopping list.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. Game Boy Heat Change Mug

A mug decorated to look like a Game Boy
Firebox

Need a gift for a video game master, or just someone who’s nostalgic for the ‘90s? Try a drinkable Game Boy. The two consoles on either side of this mug "turn on" in response to heat, revealing a start screen and a classic shot from a game of Mario. This way, your caffeine-swilling friend will get to watch their Game Boy power on at the same time they do.

Find it at Firebox for
$7.

2. Personalized Map City Mug

Three mint-green and white mugs stacked on top of each other
Etsy

Let someone on your list show off their hometown pride with a map mug customized to showcase their favorite place. Geek Group’s personalized mugs can be tailor-made to map out the boundaries of a certain city or even a single neighborhood, down to specific coordinates. The 11-ounce, fade-resistant mugs come in a variety of different color schemes, including black and white, pink, mint (above), and multi-colored. Even better, the shop helps fund programming at the Geek Group National Science Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a nonprofit dedicated to science and technology education.

Find it at Etsy for $12.

3. Heat Changing Constellation Mug

Amateur star-gazers will be wowed by this star-chart morph mug from the Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild. Featuring a dark image of the night sky, as it warms up, it reveals the 11 major constellations within. It's a perfect companion for someone who likes sitting out on the porch with some hot chocolate and finding the real constellations.

Find it at Amazon for $16 and also at these other retailers:

4. Ember Ceramic Mug

There’s nothing worse than going to take a sip of coffee and realizing it’s gone ice-cold. With Ember, your giftee will never have to worry about their coffee or tea cooling down, because the mug is designed to keep their drink at the exact temperature they specify. It links up with a smartphone app so that the user can remotely adjust the ideal temperature, and get a notification once their beverage has hit that temperature.

Find it at Ember for $80 and also at these other retailers:

5. Anatomy Of ... Mugs

Two images of a mug that reads 'Anatomy of a Maine Coon' with a drawing of a cat on it
Etsy

Your favorite animal lover will go gaga over these cutesy mugs by UK-based illustrator Sophie Corrigan. Her "Anatomy Of" mug series covers cats, dogs, birds, betta fish, cows, giraffes, hedgehogs, and basically any other animal that could be construed as adorable. No matter what kind of animal—pet or otherwise—tickles your friend’s fancy, Corrigan has a whimsical illustration to go with it.

Find it at Society 6 for $11 and up.

6. Climate Change Morph Mug

Two mugs depict a world map and rising sea levels.
Amazon

Perfect for the environmental activist in your life, this mug is a daily reminder of the effect humankind has on the planet. The heat-activated mug reflects what’s happening as the Earth warms, slowly causing continents to disappear as the polar ice caps melt and sea levels rise. Goodbye, Florida. Not all of your friends will be delighted to deal with the grim realities of climate change over breakfast, but for particularly ardent environmentalists, it will make a great conversation piece when their science-denying relatives come to visit.

Find it at Amazon for $16.

7. Animal Snout Cups

A woman raises a white cup to her mouth that is shaped like a dog’s snout.
Firebox

These 6-ounce cups are sure to make any breakfast companion laugh, and they make a great novelty gift for an animal lover in your life. When they tip the cup up to their lips, they will suddenly have a new snout. The mugs come in either the shape of a dog’s nose or a pig’s, but there’s nothing stopping you from gifting both.

Find it at Firebox for $7.

8. Banned Books Morph Mug

Two mugs feature the titles of books that have been banned, one with the titles blacked out.
Uncommon Goods

Your literary friends and family will fight over this morphing mug decorated with the titles of classic books that have been banned at some point. As the mug warms up, the black lines censoring the titles—from To Kill a Mockingbird to Naked Lunch—reveal themselves.

Find it at Uncommon Goods for $12.

9. Donut Warming Mug

A coffee mug lies on its side to reveal a platform to hold a donut, while another sits with a donut on top nearby.
Amazon

Give your favorite donut lover the perfect breakfast with this donut-warming mug, which will keep their breakfast pastry warm from the heat of their coffee. The top of the mug features a built-in lid that serves as a resting place for a small pastry (or cookie), warmed by the steam of a good cup of joe.

Find It at Amazon for $16 and also at these other retailers:

10. Mondarian Color-Changing Mug

A mug features a Mondrian-inspired design.
Amazon

Your beloved art connoisseur can take inspiration from this morphing mug from the Museum of Modern Art’s design store. Before you pour in hot liquid, it looks like it just features a black and white grid. Once it heats up, its color-changing surface reveals a design inspired by the artist Piet Mondrian.

Find it at:

11 Brilliant Gifts for the Notebook Enthusiast

iStock
iStock

Science says it's easier to organize and remember information when you write it down. Help everyone on your list stay on track with these charming notebooks that are great for artists, writers, planners, and dreamers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. Poketo Concept Planner


Poketo

Your loved ones could tap reminders into their phones, but this glam pink planner makes keeping appointments much more fun. The 252-page, open-dated book includes space to scribble goals for the week, month, and year as well as calendar sheets for scheduling activities. The binding lies flat while open and the 8-by-5-inch fabric-textured cover gives your giftee's plans a fashionable finish.

Find It at Poketo for $34.

2. Rite In The Rain All-Weather Top-Spiral Notebook


Rite in the Rain

It looks like a regular notepad, but Rite in the Rain's 4-by-6-inch gridded sheets are completely waterproof, able to withstand the wetness of a rainforest, a summer downpour, or being dropped in the mud. Use any pen or pencil for smudgeproof writing that will stay legible no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.

Find It at Amazon for $7 and also at these other retailers:

3. Moleskine Smart Writing Set


Moleskine

If your favorite notebook enthusiast draws or writes in this Moleskine paper tablet with the included Pen+ smart pen, their creation will appear in digital form on your phone or iPad via a companion app. Encoded technology allows the pen to capture each stroke and smoothly transfer freehand doodlings from page to screen. From there, the user can edit, add text, share ideas and more.

Find It at Moleskine for $199 and also at these other retailers:

4. MidoriI Grid Notebook


Amazon

You'll notice Midori notebooks are missing something: a cover. That’s entirely on purpose. These minimalist Japanese notebooks allow users to focus on the joy of writing through their gentle gridlines, thread-stitch binding, lay-flat design, and colored string on the spine that indicates the notebook's page style.

Find It at Amazon for $10 and also at these other retailers:

5. Princeton Architectural Press Observer's Notebook: Astronomy


Princeton Architectural Press

If the 2017 total solar eclipse sparked a new love of astronomy in someone you know, give this handsome 7-by-9-inch hardcover notebook, so they can record night sky observations. The ruled pages are paired with information about stars, planets, constellations, and other celestial bodies, plus gorgeous color images from the Hubble and ESA space telescopes.

Find It at Princeton Architectural Pressfor $19 and also at these other retailers:

6. Leda Art Supply Sketchbook


Amazon

Whether your gift recipient draws in pencil, ink, pastel, charcoal, or watercolors, this softcover sketchbook is ideal for many kinds of art. The 160 pages of 7-by-10-inch archival paper are thread-bound and include an elastic band to keep the book closed. A ribbon bookmark adds a classy finishing touch.

Find It at Amazon for $18 and also at these other retailers:

7. Pilot Frixion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens


Pilot

The perfect pen for The New York Times Sunday crossword, Pilot's long-lasting Frixion gel pens write incredibly smoothly in a variety of ink colors and erase completely with the attached eraser, without damaging the writing surface beneath. The 0.7-millimeter fine point gives penmanship an elegant flourish. When you're finished writing, the nib clicks back into the pen shaft.

Find It at Amazon for $11 and also at these other retailers:

8. Traveler's Company Brown Leather Notebook


Amazon

Indulge your loved one's inner Hiram Bingham or Nellie Bly with this classic traveler's notebook. Encased in a hand-made chocolate leather cover is a sheaf of blank Midori paper (refills are available); the book includes a ribbon bookmark and a band for keeping the cover closed when not in use. At roughly 8.5 inches by 5 inches, the notebook is sized for stuffing into a safari jacket.

Find It at Amazon for $47 and also at these other retailers:

9. Present And Correct Corner Ring Bound Notebook


Present and Correct

A twist on your typical spiral-bound notebook, this pad by British company Present and Correct hinges at the corner with a chic brass coil. The 50-page book comes in small (2.75 inches by 4.75 inches) and large (5.8 inches by 8.3 inches) and three variations: black cover/blank sheets, green cover/ruled sheets, and gray cover/dotted sheets.

Find It at Present And Correct for $7 and up.

10. Moleskine Limited Edition SUPER MARIO Notebook

super maro bros. limited edition moleskine notebook
Moleskine

Travel back to the "8-bit world of the Mushroom Kingdom" with the help of this limited edition Super Mario notebook from Moleskine. The hardback notebook includes 70 ivory lined pages and a bookmark, plus stickers and extra goodies printed on the inside of the paperband.

Find It at Moleskine for $20.

11. Princeton Architectural Press Pocket Department Notebooks


Princeton Architectural Press

Inspired by 1950s stationery, the Pocket Department notebooks recall old-school composition books with a modern splash of color. This pack includes each of four different styles—backpack, messenger bag, shirt pocket, and back pocket sizes—containing 64 lined pages apiece. The set comes wrapped in a reusable interoffice-style envelope with a string closure, suitable for your office's secret Santa rounds.

Find It at Princeton Architectural Press for $20 and also at these other retailers:

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