We love it when there’s a chance to pull over for a quick break and a hot drink during a long drive. In the past we packed a Thermos flask and cups – but the current crop of travel mugs offers 21st-century style and versatility. Now each person can have their own favourite hot drink, in their own insulated and colourful travel mug, at a fraction of the price of a round of coffees at the motorway service station.

At first glance, travel mugs might look pretty much of a muchness. So what did we do to choose between them on the Practical Caravan camping gear test bench? We decided that a good travel mug must be as leak-proof as possible. You’ll probably have cup-holders in your tow car, so the mugs may well spend most of their time upright, but you don’t want to get splashed with hot liquids if you’re a thirsty passenger taking a quick swig on the move. 

Thermal performance is important, too. We don’t expect travel mugs to be quite as good at keeping drinks hot as the thermal flasks of old, due to that drinking-spout lid, but we do want the drinks to stay warm. Some of the passengers might want the drinks to stay cool, on the other hand, and a good travel mug should be able to do that too.

Hygiene is vital, so we need our travel mugs to be easy to clean. Some of them come apart and some of them can even go in a dishwasher!

We don’t want our travel mugs to be tainted by the drinks we put in them, in case we want a different drink next time.

Can the travel mug go in a microwave, perhaps, if we arrive on site, set up, plug in the electrics and discover that that lovingly brewed drink has gone a bit cold?

Finally, we assessed how easy it is to hold and drink from each travel mug we reviewed.

We tested a batch of likely looking travel mugs priced from a cheap and cheerful £6.99 mug from Outwell to the fabulous £24 Bodum Travel Press for true connoisseurs of freshly brewed coffees and teas. We looked at the £20 Bodum Travel Mug, the vibrant £15 Brugo, Outwell’s eco-friendly £6.99 Vacuum Bamboo Mug, and the £12 Aladdin Papillon, reviewed here. 

Pretty, it isn’t. But practical? Oh, yes! The Aladdin Pappillon travel mug is designed for both dishwasher and microwave usage. And, up top, the lid is similar to the clever but simple design seen on only the very best models.

It couldn’t be easier to flick open or press shut the sealing plug, and the aperture revealed allows plenty of fluid through when you need it. Both the aperture and the plug are fully accessible, which makes it easy to keep the lid hygienically clean.

With the lid removed, the handle and rim allow the Aladdin Papillon to double perfectly as an insulated camping mug.

Or, at least, it would if its thermal credentials weren’t somewhat below par.