Traveling the world is a dream, but getting there isn’t always so dreamy. Whether it’s the noise from the airplane’s engine, the snoring passenger next to you, or the lovely baby screaming behind you, quality headphones are key to making your journey more peaceful. To help you save hours of research, we have handpicked the best travel headphones for you below.
Our Top Choice: After extensive testing, we have concluded that the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the best noise cancelling headphones for travel. Not only are they extremely durable and good at cancelling external noise out, but they are also the best sounding headphones in this price range. No matter if for travel or everyday commute, you seriously can’t go wrong with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.
Looking for true wireless earbuds? Check out our best true wireless earbuds guide instead.
Comparison Table of the Best Travel Headphones
Below is a list of the best noise cancelling headphones for travel. Click on the product name to read reviews and check prices.
What to Look for in Good Travel Headphones
Not all headphones are created equal, so in order to ensure you’re buying the best travel headphones, here are a few things you need to consider…
Headphones can range anywhere from a few dollars to several thousand dollars, and up to a certain point, you’ll get what you pay for. The headphones with the most features (noise-cancellation, Bluetooth, voice assistant capabilities, touch controls, etc.) will cost the most money. However, once you get into the high hundreds and thousands, you’ll probably be paying more for frills like diamonds or engraved materials that don’t actually enhance the sound quality.
Consider your current budget, but also consider your new headphones an investment that can travel with you for many years. While you may be a little put off by $300 headphones, weigh that with the fact that you’ll be able to travel much more peacefully.
Chances are you’ll be wearing your headphones for several hours at a time. It’s important that they sit comfortably on your ears and on your head (if you’re a fan of over-the-ear headphones), so your ears aren’t hurting after watching only one episode of The Big Bang Theory.
If you’re a frequent flyer, then good noise-cancelling headphones are almost essential. Not only are they great for you because you won’t hear what’s going on around you, but they’re also great for your neighbors as they won’t be able to hear what you’re listening to either.
4. Over-Ear vs. In-Ear
There are pros and cons to both, but it comes down to what’s more comfortable for you.
Over-ear headphones tend to be more comfortable and you’ll have less chance of hearing what’s going on around you because your ears will be in the ear cups. However, they’re also larger, can be more difficult to pack, and are likely more expensive.
In-ear headphones, or earbuds, are great for those who like versatility. They are great whether you’re relaxing on an airplane or heading out for a run. Packing them is super simple because they’re lightweight and don’t take up a lot of space. On the con side, some people don’t like the feeling of having headphones in their ears.
5. Size & Weight
Size and weight are really only issues if you’re getting over-the-ear headphones, but they’re still important. When you’re not wearing them, you need to have a safe place to store them. Some headphones come with a case to enhance durability and simplify storage. Others can be folded in different ways, so you have options about how to store them.
Weight isn’t necessarily that important in terms of packing, but more so because you’re probably going to be wearing them for long periods of time and you don’t want them to feel heavy on your head.
6. Wired vs. Wireless
This also comes down to preference, but there are some things to consider before you buy your next set of headphones.
- Audio Quality – Tends to be better with wired headphones
- Battery Life – Wired headphones are not restricted by a battery life. While wireless ones do have a certain battery life, many premium options give you more than enough listening time to get through a day. Also consider how often you’ll have the opportunity to recharge the battery if you choose wireless headphones.
- Compatibility – You must ensure your headphones are compatible with your device when you choose wired headphones. A perfect example is the fact that the iPhone 7 and its successors up to this point lack a headphone jack, meaning you’ll either have to buy a separate adaptor or go for a wireless model.
- Controls – Wired headphones with control buttons are usually located on the upper part of the wire, and most people find them pretty easy to use. Wireless headphones typically have buttons located on the side or back of the earphones. Sometimes these buttons are smaller and people may have a more difficult time using them. But practice makes perfect, so if you choose wireless headphones you should get used to the buttons once you’ve used them a few times.
- Convenience – If you’re on an airplane then it’s not likely you’ll be more than a foot or two away from your phone. But if you like to dance around your hotel room, then you probably don’t want to do that with a phone in your hand. Wired headphones mean you can’t go more than four to six feet from your phone, but with wireless headphones, many have a range of around 30 feet.
- Cost – Wireless headphones tend to be more expensive than wired ones.
- Interference – Not a problem with wired headphones. With wireless headphones, be mindful that interference is more likely the further you are from your phone, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices like computers and televisions can also mess with the sound quality. A simple solution would be to deactivate the Bluetooth on your other devices when you’re not using them, but outside interference is always a possibility.
Best Travel Headphone Reviews
Without further delay, here are the best headphones for travel.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
You get to decide how much outside noise you hear when you choose the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones. Because they have several different levels of noise-cancelling, they’re considered some of the best noise-cancelling headphones for travel. But they have so many other features that make then more than worth the investment. With voice assistant capabilities, you can check in with Alexa and co. to stay up-to-date on everything from your schedule to the news. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery can give you up to 20 hours of wireless power, and when they’re wired you’ll get up to 40 hours. The dual-microphone system is noise-rejecting, so whether you’re hustling through New York or you’re in a noisy airport, you’ll still be able to have clear phone calls and chats with Alexa. There’s no doubt that the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the best headphones for travel.
Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to the Sony WH-1000XM3. With a simple touch of one of the headphones you’ll be able to control the volume, skip a song, activate your phone’s voice assistant, and make or answer calls. They even have a smart listening technology where they’ll adjust the ambient sounds you hear based on the activity around you. These headphones also have industry-leading noise-cancelling capabilities and a battery that gives you up to 30 hours of listening time. If you need some of the best wireless headphones for travel, be sure to check out the Sony WH-1000XM3.
Beats Studio3 Wireless
The Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones have a fast-fuel charging capability that makes them some of the best headphones for travel on airplanes. Beats knows there are few things worse than getting on a flight and realizing you can’t listen to music or watch your favorite travel movies. So if you can charge your headphones for just ten minutes before boarding, you can get three more hours out of the battery while you’re in the air. Not only can you control music and calls on your phone, but you can also control your other iCloud-registered devices like your MacBook. To stay tuned in to your music regardless of what’s going on around you, these are some of the best headphones for traveling.
Sennheiser PXC 550
Sennheiser produced the first active noise-reduction headsets in 1984 to be given a Technical Standard Order certification by the Federal Aviation Administration, so many decades later you can be sure you’re getting some of the best headphones for airplane travel. Designed with the business traveler in mind, they’ve created a premium product to give you a first-class experience. They look good and sound great, and the lightweight and collapsible design make them super easy to store in your carry-on bag when you’re not wearing them. You’ll get everything you’ve come to expect in a high-end pair of headphones (exceptional battery life, Bluetooth technology, noise-cancelling ability, touch controls, etc.), so the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are an easy choice if you’re looking for the best headphones for air travel.
Bose QuietComfort 20
With the press of a button you’ll hear what you want to hear and block out what you don’t with the Bose QuietComfort 20. For those who aren’t a fan of over-the-ear headphones when flying, these are some of the best earbuds for airplane travel. The inline remote makes switching between music and phone calls nearly seamless so you won’t have to pull your phone out of your pants pocket every time you want to change a song. Thankfully, Bose has designed a pair of earbuds that will comfortably stay in your ears. The comfort makes them ideal if you like to sleep on planes. When you combine these with your favorite travel pillow, you’ll sleep so well you’ll almost forget you’re in an uncomfortable airplane seat :)
The super soft ear pads are a major reason why these are some of the best airplane headphones you’ll find. The ear cups even swivel 90° to make sure they fit you perfectly, making your next long-haul flight much more pleasant. Not only are they comfortable, but you’ll also get quality sound from the 40-millimeter speaker drivers that you can control with a simple tap of a headphone. If you need some solid headphones, but can’t afford to spend an arm and a leg, these are the best travel headphones under $200.
The Mpow 059 Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones are another great option if you need some of the best over-ear headphones for travel, but don’t have a big budget. Mpow has focused on giving you a premium sound quality that can’t be beat. It’s important to keep in mind that the headphones have passive noise isolation, but not active noise cancellation, so if you’ll constantly be in noisy environments, then these may not be the best travel headphones for you. On the flip side, if you’ll only be trying to drown out the waves crashing on the shore while you relax on one of the world’s most gorgeous islands, then these are ideal. They also rank among the best Bluetooth travel headphones because you’ll be able to control all of your Bluetooth-enabled devices from up to 33 feet away. For nearly perfect listening quality, go with the Mpow 059 Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones.
Philips Fidelio NC1
Whether you’re relaxing in your camping hammock in the middle of the wilderness or sitting next to a crying baby on an airplane, you’ll be thankful you chose the Philips Fidelio NC1 headphones. They perfectly combine optimal sound quality with noise-cancelling ability, debunking the myth that the two are mutually exclusive. What makes them special is the enhanced sound precision made possible by the standalone acoustic chamber and 40-millimeter drivers. The simple and slim design make them some of the best headphones for flying because they can be easily stored in your luggage or in the airplane seat pocket in front of you. Philips has created a quality product that you’ll be sure to love no matter where you travel.
Anker SoundBuds Curve
The Anker SoundBuds Curve headphones are ideal for active travelers, and they have several features that keep them at the top of the list of the best in-ear headphones for travel. CVC noise-cancellation technology and aptX high-resolution music are only the start of what make these headphones some of the best. Perfect for travelers on-the-go, these headphones are water-resistant, so whether you find yourself caught in the rain while you’re hiking in Big Sur or your headphones are splashed while you’re relaxing poolside at your luxurious retreat in Bangkok, you should have nothing to worry about. Not only will you have customizable EarTips to make sure they fit well, but there are also additional EarWings to make sure they stay in place throughout your workouts. With a 12.5-hour battery life, these are great travel companions no matter where your travels take you.
If you’re one of those people who are a bit rough on their travel gear, but still want quality headphones, then go with the Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbud Headphones. These headphones are super affordable, but still give you good listening quality. You’ll have a choice of the size of your earpads to make sure they fit comfortably, and the almost four-foot cord makes it super convenient to thread them through your travel jacket. But the best part is, if you do lose or break them, you can afford another pair without having to shed a tear.
No matter where your travels take you, a quality pair of headphones is something you’ll never regret investing in.