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:

Indulge Your Kitty's Love of Boxes With This Modular Cardboard Cat Home

Cat Lovebox
Cat Lovebox

Cat owners know that even if their pet has access to fancy toys and cat trees, there's nothing more entertaining to them than a cardboard box. But you don't have to fill your home with trash to give your feline friend what they want. The Cat Lovebox turns your cat's favorite material into a playful, modular system that looks a lot more beautiful in your home than leftover packaging.

Each Cat Lovebox has holes in the sides that allow your cat to go in and out of with ease. The six holes are pre-cut into each side of the cube, but you can keep them closed if your cat prefers a dark hiding place, or open just a few of them to connect multiple boxes.

Cowhide cat boxes
Cat Lovebox

One box may be all your cat needs to feel warm and secure, but with several, you can design elaborate structures that will keep your pet busy for hours. They come with connecting rivets, so you can arrange groups of boxes however you like and trust that your cat won't be able to jostle them apart.

The product is also designed to be pleasing to the eye: The Lovebox is available in multiple fun patterns, including plaid, floral, and cowhide.

Buy it from Cat Lovebox starting at $29.95 for a set of two. Mental Floss readers can get 10 percent off by using the offer code TZOQZK.

And if your cat ever decides to come out of their new hiding place, here are some more cat products you'll both love.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and 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!

10 Essential Dog Products for National Puppy Day

iStock.com/blanscape
iStock.com/blanscape

Every dog parent wants to spoil their beloved pooch, and there are infinite pet products out there designed to help you do so. In honor of National Puppy Day on March 23, here are 10 essentials every dog owner needs, whether you just brought home a new pup or are just looking to add to your loyal friend’s collection of pet accessories.

1. Nite Ize Nite Dawg Dog Collar

A Golden Retriever wears a light-up collar while walking through a field.

Nite Ize, Amazon

Keep your pooch safe at all hours with a reflective, light-up collar that will make them visible from any angle at distances of up to 1000 feet. The LED lights on the battery-powered Night Ize Night Dawg collar feature flashing and glow modes for maximum visibility. The collar is also water-resistant for rainy days (or pond-loving dogs) and is designed to run for 100 hours before you need to change its batteries. It comes in four different sizes that will fit pups of all shapes, sizes, and breeds.

Buy it on Amazon starting at $15, at Chewy starting at $12, or at the retailers below:

2. Chase ’n Chomp Amazing Squeaker Ball

A Chase 'n Chomp squeaker ball

Chase 'n Chomp, Amazon

We’ve written about the amazing staying power of Chase ’n Chomp’s squeaker ball before, because according to pet owners, it’s virtually indestructible. Amazon reviewers swear their dogs love it: One even says her German Shepherd’s relationship with her squeaker ball is “like Golem with his magic ring—it’s that serious!”—which is about the highest praise we can imagine. The squeaker will outlast even the most intense chewing, and in case your dog is a swimmer, it floats, too.

Buy it on Amazon for $8.

3. Pooch Selfie Camera Attachment

The Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment is the easiest way to make sure the camera loves your pup as much as you do. The mount allows you to affix a tennis ball on top of your phone, giving your dog something enticing to look at so that you can capture the perfect photo of the two of you. It comes with a squeaky ball designed to get your dog’s attention, but any standard tennis ball will work. The clasp will fit on most smartphones and smartphone cases.

Buy it on The Grommet for $10.

4. Pogi’s Eco-Friendly Pee Pads

A package of puppy pee pads

Pogi's Pet Supplies, Amazon

House-training accidents are unavoidable, but you don’t need to worry about your furry friend ruining your floors. Pogi’s absorbent pee pads are made with plant-based, renewable materials so that you don’t have to feel guilty about hurting the environment for the sake of convenience. Better yet, the adhesive backing won’t slide around on hard floors, and the quilted core stops odors and leaks in their tracks. They also contain a dog attractant designed to make sure your pooch goes on the pad, not your floor. And they’re not just for puppies—pee pads are an excellent choice for older dogs or any pup that has trouble holding it in between walks. And if you just can’t convince your dog to stop marking its territory, dog diapers and wraps are a good option. (Mental Floss’s resident office dog, Simba, looks adorable in his.)

Buy them on Amazon for $12.

5. KONG Stuff-a-Ball Dog Toy

A KONG Stuff-a-Ball toy

KONG, Amazon

Unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars on dental cleanings and tooth extractions later in your dog’s life, you probably want to take care of their teeth. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting up in their molars with a toothbrush. There are plenty of dental chews and tooth-friendly toys, including this one from beloved pet toy brand KONG. The puzzle toy one can be stuffed with treats or peanut butter, and as your dog chews at it to extract its contents, the exterior ridges will clean their teeth. It comes in three different sizes and is designed to withstand even the toughest chewers.

Buy it on Amazon for $13 and up or at Chewy for $11 and up.

6. iFetch Automatic Ball Launcher

Your dog’s stamina for playing fetch probably far outweighs your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for saying no to those begging puppy-dog eyes. You can now outsource your playtime to a robot. The iFetch automatic ball launcher is made to play with your dog when you cannot. The interactive gadget can be programmed to throw balls 10, 20, or 30 feet, depending on the size of your home and your dog’s stamina, and comes with miniature balls designed for smaller dogs. (The company also makes a version that can launch a standard tennis ball up to 40 feet, called the iFetch Too.)

Buy it on Amazon for $110 or on Chewy for $106.

7. Burt’s Bees for Dogs Oatmeal Shampoo

A bottle of Burt's Bees dog shampoo

Burt's Bees, Amazon

No matter the breed, size, or hair type, your dog is bound to get stinky at some point. And while you’ll want to bathe them, you don’t want to irritate their skin. This colloidal oatmeal shampoo from Burt’s Bees promises to clean, soothe, and soften your dog’s dry skin and fur and reduce itching. It’s pH balanced, tear-free, and perfect for sensitive skin.

Buy it on Amazon or Chewy for $5.

8. Aikiou Interactive Dog Bowl

A dog eats out of a puzzle bowl shaped like an oversized paw.

Aikiou, Chewy

Challenge your dog’s mind while keeping their body trim with an interactive puzzle feeder that forces them to work for their dinner. Aikiou’s interactive bowl provides more of a challenge than most slow-feeding puzzle bowls, forcing your dog to nose through each of the “toe caps” on the paw-shaped bowl to reveal the kibble beneath—similar to the foraging behavior your pup would use in the wild. “In addition to slowing down his food intake to help prevent bloat and maintain a healthy weight, the mental stimulation also reduces boredom and anxiety while increasing physical activity and problem-solving skills,” the company promises.

Buy it on Chewy for $20.

9. Furbo Dog Camera

Furbo’s dog cam allows you to do more than just check in on your dog while you’re at work. You can view your pup on the high-definition, wide-angle livestream 24/7 with night vision capabilities. You can fill the robot with treats and use your phone to direct it to through treats for your pup. And you can calm an anxious dog with the bark-alert feature, which allows the Furbo to detect when your dog is barking so that you can see what’s going on and talk to them through the associated app. It can also detect a flurry of movement, such as if your dog is jumping on the couch, chewing cords, or pacing anxiously. Several users say these alerts have proved key in an emergency, detecting them to house fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and dogs tearing through massive bags of chocolate.

Buy it from Furbo or on Amazon for $199.

10. BarkBox

If you can’t choose what to buy your pup, let BarkBox choose for you. Each monthly subscription box comes with at least two toys, two bags of treats, and a chew around a specific theme, like “Knights of the Hound Table” and “Chewrassic Park.” You can choose to receive small, medium, or large toys; specify if your dog has food allergies; and decide between a one-month, six-month, or 12-month subscription. If your dog is a particularly enthusiastic chewer, the company also offers a Super Chewer box that comes with extra-durable toys.

Buy it on BarkBox starting at $22 a box.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and 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!

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