Commuting can be a challenge. If you know a friend or family member who travels a lot for work, and you want to get them the perfect gift to help them endure a long train or bus journey, we can help.
The best way to make the most of a commute is to get some real value out of those hours, however possible, and with that in mind, below we’ve chosen a few gifts that’ll provide either entertainment or comfort on the go.
If the commuter you know enjoys reading, playing games or watching movies, there’s something in our list to help them get the most out of their journeys, so they don’t just feel like empty hours.
And hey, maybe you are that commuter who needs new ways to pass the time in 2020. In which case, why not treat yourself?
Check out our gift ideas below, and make those journeys melt away – or at least feel more bearable – with these festive purchases.
Want to catch up on the latest dark fantasy or true crime books, but don’t have the energy to read after a day at work? Or maybe you’re driving to work, and need to keep your eyes on the road. Either way, Audible is the perfect gift for yourself or the commuter in your life. You can gift up to 12 months of membership (click here if you’re in the UK), and the monthly subscription fee is a reasonable $14.95(US and AU)/£7.99.
As well as picking one book a month to listen to, you get access to Audible’s range of original podcasts, which includes fiction and documentaries. The archive of audiobooks on offer is pretty vast, too, with everything from classics like The Great Gatsby to audio versions of the more recent Star Wars books.
Kindle Unlimited subscription
Maybe you know a more traditional reader who finds picking up a book to be therapeutic after a long working day, but who appreciates the convenience of an ereader over a hardback or paperback. Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s book subscription service, is perfect for train travelers in particular, and the best part is that you don’t need an Amazon device to enjoy the books on offer: anything that can download the Kindle app supports it.
Kindle Unlimited also bundles in thousands of books with Audible narration, and depending on where you live, you may have the option to read magazines, too. It also offers a pretty good library of graphic novels, which includes Batman and Star Wars titles.
iMuto 20,000mAh power bank
Keeping phones charged is an essential part of commuting
When you’re on the go, nothing is more essential than keeping your phone powered up, and this high-capacity portable charger offers enough juice to recharge it multiple times.
iMuto’s power bank packs 20,000mAh, with two ports for charging, and that’s why you’ll find it at the top of our list of the best power banks for capacity. iMuto says you can use it with certain MacBooks and laptops as well, though we’d advise checking compatibility before trying that.
Keeping your phone powered up through long journeys is essential when you’re commuting, and this is the sort of purchase that’s life-changing in a nice way if you’ve never had a power bank before.
Nintendo Switch Lite
The best portable console you can buy
Cheaper than the original Switch model
Great for portability
Amazing games library
Can’t be used as a home console
Nothing kills a commute faster than games, and if mobile games aren’t your thing, only one console sits at the top of the pile right now: the Nintendo Switch. The recent Lite model is different from the main version of the console for a couple of reasons: it’s portable-only, and significantly cheaper as a result.
It’s fair to say this is the best Nintendo console in a long time. Check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games if you need recommendations, but you’ll want to pick up the latest 3D Mario and Zelda games, Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, to really get the most out of this machine.
While you do get some internal storage with the Switch, you’ll want to consider getting a memory card too, so that you can load it up with downloaded titles.
Check out our review of the Nintendo Switch Lite.
JanSport Baughman Backpack
A backpack with a laptop sleeve
Key Features: Fits 15-inch laptops; fleece lined media pocket; front flap with organizer; front zippered pocket with removable storage pouch | Dimensions: 17.5 x 12.6 x 5.7 inches (H x W x D) | Weight: 2.4 pounds
15-inch laptop sleeve
Removable storage pouch
Fine canvas look and feel
It’s pretty common to have a laptop with you when you’re commuting, simply because it’s easy to fill those empty hours with any work you need to catch up on. You’ll want a decent bag for storage, then, and this full canvas bag features a fleece-lined sleeve that fits a 15-inch laptop, which should keep your compact machine safe for the long haul.
This topped our list of the best laptop bags, and it’s an option worth considering as an alternative to carrying a separate laptop case around. It’s also got a removable storage pouch – maybe you could put a sandwich in there?
Read your favorite books on the go
Screen size: 6-inch | Screen type: E Ink | Storage: 8GB | Resolution: 300ppi | Weight: 182g | Backlight: yes | Touchscreen: yes | Wi-Fi: yes | 4G: optional | Battery life: up to six weeks
Still missing some features
Ereaders are perfect for reading when you’re on the move, and with a massive 8GB capacity, it’s possible to store enough books to kill thousands of commutes on the Kindle Paperwhite. This device features a sharper 300ppi screen than the regular Kindle, and price-wise it’s very reasonable for the upgrade. As you’d expect, it’s compatible with on-demand service Kindle Unlimited, while you can download thousands of books from Amazon’s store if you prefer to buy titles outright.
The screen helps fend off glare from the sun, which can be useful for train commuters sitting by a window. You can also pair the Paperwhite with Bluetooth headphones to listen to audiobooks from Audible.
- The best Kindle to buy right now
Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones
A harsh commute warrants the best headphones you can get
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 254g | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 4 Hz-40,000 Hz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Neodymium | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB / mW (1 kHz) | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes
Outstanding noise cancellation
30 hours of battery life
Fantastic sound quality
Mediocre call quality
With 30 hours of battery life, these wireless headphones will last for even the lengthiest commute, and the excellent noise cancellation should make those long journeys more bearable, too. Manufacturer Sony also boasts that users can get five hours of playback time from just 10 minutes of charge, so if the commuter you know is rushing out in the morning, they can quickly top up their cans for the trip ahead.
At just 254g, they’re also nice and lightweight. They’re not exactly a budget option, but for quality audio on extended journeys they’re our wireless headphones of choice.
Check out our review of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones.
Watch movies and TV shows on the go with the basic iPad
Weight: 483g | Dimensions: 250.6 x 174.1 x 7.5mm | OS: iPadOS 13 | Screen size: 10.2-inch | Resolution: 1620 x 2160 pixels | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 8,827mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Slightly bigger screen
Works with the Smart Keyboard
Marginally better than iPad 9.7
iPad Air is superior for sketching
The latest entry-level iPad has a slightly larger screen at 10.2 inches, and there are many reasons to consider getting one for the commuter in your life. The pricing isn’t bad for an Apple product, and it’s a portal to all kinds of entertainment: combine the iPad with a streaming service subscription, and it’s possible to download shows and movies from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for watching on the go.
Your commuter friend or family member can also download all the apps they need on the go, and check out the games lineup on the Apple Arcade, which offers access to a whole host of titles for a subscription fee.
Sure, it’s possible to download Netflix and Amazon Prime Video content to a phone, but the larger screen size here will make a huge difference. This iPad also has Smart Keyboard support, which is handy for getting some work done on the go.
Check out our iPad 10.2 review for more information on this model.