Traveling headphones can be a bit tricky. If you’re like us, music never seems to not be a part of our lives, especially during some mundane moments which we’d like to keep at least somewhat entertaining to help us get through the motions. Especially in our context today with traveling, it can be quite a pain sitting on that plane, train, car or really any other type of transportation for a long amount of time — cue in the need for some tunes, audiobooks or movies\TV series to get us by. Today we wanted to give you some of our recommendations for the best headphones when it comes to traveling to help your search, however the actual perfect pair for you will depend on a few factors which we list below before getting started.
Choosing the best traveling headphones
Let’s keep your budget into mind before we bring in the other factors. There are some absolutely stunning models priced at $50 or less if you’re into money efficiency and going for more of a bang-for-your-buck approach to your headphones for travel (you will have to sacrifice some additional features or overall quality, of course).
Otherwise, for those who are into high-end gear particularly when it comes to your audio experiences, there are headphones at under $200 well worth the money if you have it, and some even in the $500 range if you’re going for a home run. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a pair that asks you to save a month or two more before purchasing? It all depends when your travels start. We found all popular price ranges for you to compare.
Next, what headphone type were you thinking? There are two main types for travel we wanted to highlight to narrow it down for you. These are:
- Over-Ear Headphones: The traditional headphones build with a headband and large earcups. They’re typically a bit more difficult to travel with; however, our picks typically come with folding ability and storage cases to help with that. These come with their obvious pros: a bit more intimate of a listening experience since your entire ears are engulfed in the audio, they’re quite comfortable (some even with leather or plush cups) which are great for long trips, and have some more battery life if you go the wireless route.
- In-Ear Headphones: These are the smaller types of headphones that fit directly into your ear canal. Some prefer in-ears regardless of what traveling they’re doing since these are super versatile and very easy to pack. Others will say they still prefer over-ear since the experience is what counts and they don’t mind fitting a larger headphone type into their bag when they’re not using it. It all depends on what you like! Why not both?
Lastly, let’s talk extra technology that specializes in making that listening experience even better if you want to spare some cash. Firstly, do you want some wireless headphones? We found both over-ear and in-ear pairs with Bluetooth down below, but we have some wired models as well just in case. How about some noise-cancellation technology? With traveling, this extra tech is highly recommended; however, it’ll still depend on your budget because ANC headphones start to get up there in price.
Some other highlights in terms of features you may see thrown around also include waterproof protection, sound isolation tech, labeled as “monitors” (no extra emphasis on any frequencies for a “flat” and “accurate” response), special material for ear tips and ear cups, and more. We’ll give you the highlights of each of our picks so you can see if they’re worth it.
The top 10 best headphones for traveling
Bose QuietComfort 35
Now that we’ve covered some of our factors for choosing the best for you, let’s get into our picks. First in its class, the QuietComfort 35 is one of the best headphones for travel in our opinion and a perfect addition to your carry-on bag for those moments that require peace and quiet. What really sold this pick for us how is often we’ve actually seen a pair of QC35 on a flight — each time we travel there are at least 1-2 users with a pair of these (or the in-ear pair which we list below) if we scan the plane before we take off. Despite the higher price, let’s see why this is such a big must for travelers. Fully equipped with Bluetooth technology and Bose’s top of the line noise cancellation, this is a headphone that is perfect for those of you looking to cancel out any peripheral noise. Creating an isolated environment, these allow you to simply flip on a noise-cancelling switch and lose yourself in your music.
Engineered with Acoustic Noise-Cancellation (ANC) technology and a closed-back over-ear build, the QuietComfort 35 has little to no noise leakage, essentially meaning very little noise is going to escape into your surrounding environment. ANC works by having a little microphone on the side of your ear cups that are intended to pick up outside noise and reflect that back into your ear cups to cancel out the ambiance. This is best for not only planes and that huge engine, but really any chitter-chatter you’re around regardless of transportation type. Lastly, who says wireless headphones have minimal battery life? Enjoy up to 20 hours of listening before concerning yourself with an auxiliary cord. Simply charge your headphones for no more than 15 minutes, and enjoy up to two and a half hours of wire-free listening. The Bose QuietComfort 35 is definitely our favorite pick for the best travel headphones in the market today if it’s within your budget and you’re good with an over-ear pair.
Up next, here’s a very high-priced (sorry for the price these first two, continue on down if your budget is lower) wireless headphone that brings a game changing X-factor when it comes to noise cancellation. Built for efficiency and comfort, the headphones leather ear cups and high-quality sounds make this an airplane essential and one of the best travel headphones being sold today. Impressively equipped with a hybrid active NoiseGard for reducing unwanted surrounding noise, as well as a high-definition aptX codec for meticulous detail. In addition to the noise cancellation qualities that make the HD1 great, these headphones come with a VoiceMax microphone already built-in to them to handle calls if you need to.
If you are new to high-technology headphones, the HD1 might not be a bad choice for a first-time user if your budget is quite large. Whether you intend to use these headphones for minimizing outside sound, listening to music, or clarity in conducting a phone conversation, one guarantee to the new Sennheiser HD1 is that you will end up with a completely different outlook on how headphones can be used, especially as you’re traveling.
Let’s move into some affordable in-ear headphones. Designed to provide a powerful sound, the Byron is the optimal choice for music listeners looking for a higher quality in their sound and a not-so luggy build. Exceptionally consistent when it comes to sound quality, this headphone is both comfortable and simplistic its design. Although these headphones are predominantly utilized for relaxation, they remain a great choice for travel, they also work well with working out, walking, or simply kicking back to some tunes during a long commute. The Byron is one of the best travel headphones as it comes with replaceable silicone ear tips, as well as provides an enhanced listening experience. They’re wired so you won’t have to worry about charging them unlike our wireless picks.
Beyerdynamic is quite famous, and they always does a good job when it comes to providing a light-weight, technologically advanced headphone (more so in the studio headphone game, particularly open-backs), but this latest edition of the Beyerdynamic Byron verifies why foregoing additional headphone expenditures by a trusted brand might be a great idea. The travel commute can be a pain, so make your commuting experience a bit more bearable, if not enjoyable with these versatile budget-friendly in-ear bad boys. They’re also available in a wireless Bluetooth pair for a few extra bucks if you’d like.
Is price an issue for you? Want an on-ear pair of travel headphones? Designed with the precision of professional quality needed for the regular travelers, the JAM Transit is a relatively similar priced headphones as it’s fellow high-tech sister products. Featuring pretty nice sound quality equipped with a high-level bass and outstanding tones that will keep your ears eager for more, this Bluetooth pair is rechargeable for 3 hours to provide nearly 4x the amount of play time. If you are traveling on a plane or are looking into a long road trip, these headphones are incredibly comfortable and one of the best headphones for travel.
There are a lot of name brand headphones to choose from, but the high-performance sound quality combined with the comfort they provide, unequivocally enables a superior headset for a cheaper price. The JAM Transit name is often considered a less familiar brand, but these light-weighted, Bluetooth providing headphones are just as good as any high-tech headphones being sold on the market today at this price-point. They don’t have any special type of sound isolation or noise cancellation technology, but with this cost you’re going to have to sacrifice something.
Sennheiser HD 280
This popular closed-back monitor headphone isn’t necessarily labeled a “travel headphone”, but because they’re so amazing and versatile, they’re making an appearance here. The HD 280 features an 8Hz to 25kHz high frequency response, as well as swiveling ear cups, great for sound cancellation and best utilized for optimizing work efficiency; however, most importantly traveling and being able to store them safely in a bag without having to worry of damaging them. Producing a flat and accurate sound-quality (studio pairs are known for this instead of boasting a particular frequency), this is one of the fastest growing styles in the headphone industry due in part to its dynamic approach and portability.
Equipped with up to 32dB of ambient noise attenuation, as well as single-sided coiled cable with 3.5 mm mini jack’s and a locking 1/4” adapter, this is a pair that is going to not only minimize noise leakage but give us some convenience as well. These days technology can allow for a higher sound quality from smaller devices, so it goes without saying that these models have been able to compete with heavier headphones alike. Constructed in its rugged design, this classic Sennheiser HD 280 is a great addition for travelers if you wanted that studio-quality sound.
For great sound at one of the cheapest we’ve seen and an undeniably cool look, the T2S is a headphones purchase that won’t let you down if you’re only into spending a little as possible. They’re diligently equipped with 57 mm ultra-big speakers inside of some fat over-ear cups, enabling a sound quality for you to enter your own world. Engineered with enhanced sound quality, this style prevents very little noise leakage, preventing outside noise from entering your ear and distracting you from your thoughts while traveling. This is one of the best travel headphones for long journeys, as not only will the adjustable equalizer allow you to choose your favorite music styles, but you may also listen to your sound at a high volume without worrying about others ability to hear.
Bluetooth connectivity allows for these headphones to connect wirelessly, making this an optimal choice smart phone usage. Not only are these some of the coolest looking headphones on this list if you want some flash, but they also have the same enhanced high-tech features as well considering that price-tag. If you’re looking for a power and money-saving model with considerable battery life, the Bluedio T2S might be for you.
Bose QuietComfort 20
Our first pick does have a little brother, and if you wanted the same type of technology but in an in-ear build, check these things out. The QuietComfort 20 is an acoustic noise cancelling pair of in-ears that is ideal for light packers. Lower frequency sound is measured by the frequencies of their surroundings, creating an opposite frequency that removes outside noise. Whether you prefer silence while working out, reading, or getting work done, simply turn on the headphones noise cancellation feature and eliminate distractions that prevent you from losing yourself in the music.
Equipped with a Proprietary StayHear + tips that provide a soft secure fit, these are definitely one of the best headphones for traveling when it comes to private listening and overall comfort. One of the most frustrating aspects of working while on the road is finding the ability to work efficiently without distractions. Blocking out surrounding noises with the Bose QuietComfort 20 will enable you to eliminate distractions and get the best results. If you are looking for a compact set of headphones, making it easy to carry around, the Bose’s latest QC20 edition are beautiful.
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
What’s a Wire Realm headphone guide without a pair of M50x in it? Designed for comfort and optimal efficiency, these ATH-M50x some of the most positive user reviews ever. They’re monitor and studio headphones typically known as an ideal choice for studio mixing as well as tracking for those of you traveling musicians looking for a better understanding of your sound. These headphones are also a comfortable choice for non musicians looking for a relaxing way to enjoy your music selections, making it a versatile selection. They are foldable and conveniently equipped with a detachable single sided cable system, 3-meter coiled cable, and a 3-meter straight cable, so it will be hard for you to find a situation that will require a need to detach yourself from accessibility.
The M50x comes with single-ear monitoring ear cups, that are going to rest on the outer ear for maximum sound quality and reduced noise leakage. Yes, the fit might seem tight at first, but this is the best way to obtain the best sound isolation. A cheaper alternative and for those who want that beloved studio quality sound, these Audio-Technica ATH-M50x monitor headphones feature all of the necessities in a great headphone set and are also great for travel.
Whether you’re embarking on a long journey, use headphones at work, or want to make your daily commute a bit more enjoyable, these adjustable wireless on-ear headphones are a less expensive alternative while still doing a great job at reproducing precise source material. Producing a crystal-clear sound brought to you by one of our favorites in AKG, this high-performance, noise-cancellation headphone set comes with a carrying case allowing you easy access to enjoy your music while traveling. When you combine noise cancellation technology that easily reduces ambient noise while still producing a high-quality sound, it’s hard to refute that the N60NC is great for creating your own individual environment, and one of the best headphones for travel at that.
The headphones include a whopping 30 hours of battery life as well as a USB charging cable so you never have to worry about being without your headphones on the road. Known for being less comfortable than the monitor headphones, the N60NC still prides itself more on delivering optimal sound quality. If you are looking for a high-performance headphone set and find on-ear builds to be your thing, these AKG N60NC are everything they are advertised to be.
Plantronics BackBeat Go 2
Last but not least, let’s check out a pair of wireless earbuds as the best headphones for travel. When it comes to a cheaper headphone in the “high-tech headphone space” the BackBeat Go 2 is about as good as it gets. For those of you looking into upping your game when it comes to traveling with a higher quality headphone, these Bluetooth accessible headphones are a great “starter headphone” for your future trips. Do you ever have to deal with your headphones annoyingly falling out while being used? The Backbeat Go 2 are sold in three different customized sizes with cushioned ear tips and stabilizers creating an individualized fit for each and every active user. Uniquely featuring a deep sleep mode that enables your headphones to preserve battery life while still being able to fully utilize them.
Bluetooth connectivity allows the user to have music access virtually anywhere in the world, but the fully charged battery case increases your listening time by nearly 15 hours, making the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 one of the best travel headphones, while still being considered a beginner selection since that price-tag is so dang low.