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Everything you need for commuting to work

From portable chargers to the best on-the-go work bags, we've got you covered with everything you need to make your work commute easier.
Written by Kayla Solino, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Allison Murray
Baseus 10,000mAh MagSafe portable charger | A reliable power bank or battery pack for a quick boost
Baseus 20W 6000mAh magnetic power bank
Baseus 10,000mAh MagSafe portable charger
A reliable power bank or battery pack for a quick boost
View now View at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Noise-Canceling Earbuds | A pair of top-notch noise-canceling earbuds
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Noise-Canceling Earbuds
A pair of top-notch noise-canceling earbuds
View now View at Bose
Under Armour Hustle Pro Backpack | A roomy, yet comfortable backpack
Under Armour Hustle Pro Backpack
A roomy, yet comfortable backpack
View now View at Amazon
Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot | A Wi-Fi hotspot
Handheld wireless router with rectangular touch screen
Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot
A Wi-Fi hotspot
View now View at Best Buy

If your mornings are anything like mine, then you're probably running out the door within an hour or so of waking up only to watch the sunrise out of the dirty windows of varying forms of public transit. Planes, trains, and automobiles, oh my. They all have one thing in common when it comes to commuting -- it often just feels like more work. And it doesn't matter how long your commute is, the monotony of getting yourself to the office can take its toll. 

Also: The demand for hybrid work is only growing

Luckily, there's a few things you can do to ease your morning stress and make your travel as hassle-free as possible. Whether you're heading into the office for your first full-time gig or are returning to the office after working from home the past few years, ZDNET has compiled a list of everything you need for your office commute, based on my own personal experience commuting between New York and New Jersey and hands-on testing by our experts. 

A portable charger

If there's anything my long commute has taught me it's that a portable charger is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. By the time you're ready to head home, you don't want a near-dead phone which can limit your entertainment en route and, not to mention, be potentially risky. Thankfully, my job as a tech editor gives me the opportunity to test out some of the best on the market, particularly MagSafe options perfect for boosting my iPhone 14 Pro's battery. 

This MagSafe power bank (ZDNET's pick for the best budget MagSafe power bank) connects to your iPhone 12 or above with ease. Depending on the size and battery status of your iPhone, the power bank could be enough to fully charge your iPhone in one go, according to ZDNET contributor Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who reviewed the power bank last year. 

Review: This is the best MagSafe power bank for the iPhone masses, and it's not Apple's

It takes around two hours to get all the juice from this battery pack, and you can charge your iPhone while the power bank itself is charging, which is pretty convenient. Like some other picks on our best MagSafe battery pack list, it doesn't feature an overly bulky design and has an appealing profile. 

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

A pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds

Trust me, there's nothing you'll want more during your commute than to drown out the sounds of the train, bus, subway, or streets with a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds. There's also nothing more annoying than someone blaring their own music or cell conversation out of their device at 7 a.m. Take it from me and don't be that person--invest in a quality listening experience to bring some zen to your work commute. 

Bose's QuietComfort Ultra earbuds offer a top-quality audio experience with advanced features for every type of listener, and take ZDNET's top spot for best noise-canceling earbuds overall based on expert testing. 

Also: I've used these Bose earbuds for months and I can't recommend them enough 

"As far as music goes, the QuietComfort Ultra deliver impressive wide-ranging sound. On runs, these earbuds stick in my ears, which I can credit to the oval shape of the ear tip as well as the extra grip from the stability band," says ZDNET expert Nina Raemont, who reviewed the Ultra earbuds earlier this year. 

View at Best BuyView at Best Buy

A commuter-friendly work bag

Arguably the most important essential, a backpack should be durable and lightweight enough to carry your essentials to and from work. What's more, your bag needs to be able to hold your laptop and keep it safe during a sometimes bumpy or rough commute. Backpacks are a great traditional travel option that can help optimize your frequent trips to and from the office, while totes offer different, yet comparable benefits for your daily back and forth. 

Due to the nature of my commute, which requires a car ride, train ride, subway trip, and a 15 minute walk each way, I quickly decided a good old backpack was perfect for my work essentials, and made it easy to put on and off while using public transit. I quickly settled on the Under Armour Hustle Pro model thanks to its water-resistant & stain-resistant finish, and upgraded strap system which assures straps are adjusted for balanced weight distribution. 

This backpack also has a PU-coated bottom, lined laptop sleeve up to 15-inches, bottom gusseted pocket, double side pockets, and two front pockets: one insulated and another tricot-lined for valuables, which I keep my emergency kit in. All in all, I've had this bag several months and it still looks brand new, which isn't an easy feat considering all the dirty places it goes while commuting. 

View at BeisView at AmazonView at Amazon

A Wi-Fi hotspot 

While some public transit may provide Wi-Fi and similarly some phones can be activated as a hotspot, a specifically designed traditional hotspot is a reliable and fast way to access the internet while en route, allowing you to use your commute time for work, personal or entertainment purposes easily and consistently. The best hotspots can be set up by your phone provider and are game-changers for those who spend large chunks of their day commuting. 

The Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L is ultra fast and reliable and also features an easy-to-use touchscreen. This hotspot offers dual-band frequencies and is compatible with both your laptop and smartphone, and the USB-C connection is even included. 

You can easily connect up to 15 different devices if needed, and can utilize your hotspot up to 24 hours before needing a charge.

View at AmazonView at Amazon

You might also need: 

It's never a bad idea to be prepared, but you don't want to lug everything but your kitchen sink with you along to the office. Here's a few additional items to consider for your commuter essentials, from handy MagSafe wallets which make swiping transit cards easy (my favorite MagSafe accessory to have), to upgraded entertainment for those looking to splurge. 

Do I really need these extra items on hand during my commute?

The short answer here is no, you don't have to purchase extra items to have on hand during your commute. While ZDNET highly recommends these products as essentials for commuting, only you know what you truly need for your day-to-day lifestyle. Maybe you like to have a few more items in your work bag or maybe you don't bring anything besides your cellphone with you -- do whatever is best for you. 

What basics do I need for commuting?

As someone who could arguably be called a super-commuter, I feel uber qualified to recommend a few bare minimum essentials to have on hand while going back and forth to work. Here's my top 5 essentials: 

  • A comfortable bag or tote
  • MagSafe battery pack or portable charger 
  • Noise-canceling earbuds or headphones
  • A MagSafe wallet (or anything that gives easy access to transit cards and tickets)
  • A water bottle (the Owala FreeSip is my personal favorite, though I have used bottles from Swell, Stanley, Hydroflask and more, too). Any bottle will do, just stay hydrated.

Some of my next recommendations would be an AirTag to keep track of your bag in case it is stolen or goes missing, an added entertainment device, like a Kindle, an emergency snack, and an ID lanyard to safekeep your work badge -- I really like the retractable version from OrbitKey for easy scanning in and out. 

What is a hyrbid work schedule?

Lots of workers are starting to return to the office after working from home since the onset of the pandemic. Many companies are now moving towards a hybrid work schedule, which means that workers are required to go into an office two or three days a week, and can work from home the remaining days.

Some companies have even begun enforcing full return to office orders for current employees, which means many workers may be back to a traditional five day in-person work week. 

Also: Hybrid working or back to the office, here's how to keep everyone engaged

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