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The Best Travel Headphones For Your Next Trip

Best Travel Headphones 0 Hero

Whether you’re on a quick commute across the city, or on an intercontinental flight across the sea, the need for a reliable pair of audio peripherals might spell the difference between a mind-numbing travel experience, or an enjoyable start to your day. Sure, there are a ton of versatile offerings out there that can pass as travel-oriented listeners, giving you exceptional audio quality, and playing your favorite music, podcasts, or True Crime playlists with ease — but if you’re looking to take your audio game to the next level, you’re going to have to invest. And we’ve rounded up the best travel headphones to make the decision a little bit easier.

The Best Travel Headphones

what headphones are best for traveling?

For those who are serious about maintaining their sanity while traveling, there’s nothing more important than a pair of efficient headphones to cut out the noise. To achieve this, you’ll need to peruse the industry’s leading manufacturers’ catalogs for variants that include innovative noise-canceling properties, robust audio drivers, and designs that can help seal out the inhibitive sound associated with busy areas. At the end of the day, if you travel/commute often in noisy public places, the most important feature to look for is active noise cancelling (or ANC). For our guide, every pair of headphones included comes equipped with ANC, so you don’t have to worry.

Earbuds vs. over-ear headphones (for travel)

Most will agree that over-ear headphones will be more comfortable for long commutes or trips, but some may still prefer the feeling and extra portability of earbuds. Because of this, most of the picks in our guide will be over-ear headphones, but we’ve included a pair of earbuds to round it out. Earbuds will often come with extra bud tips so you can get the right fit, and as the design of earbuds improves alongside the tech, they’re getting more comfortable every year. Battery life isn’t quite as good as over-ear options, however, but that’s also improving with each upgrade.

What to look for

Noise Cancellation: This is by far the most important feature to consider when shopping for a pair of travel headphones. Again, every pick we’ve included has active noise cancellation (ANC – the industry standard), which uses built-in mics to cancel out ambient noise.

Battery: The second most important feature to consider is battery life, and you’re aiming for a pair that can last at least 20 hours on a single charge. Fast-charging capabilities are also very convenient, providing you with several hours of listening time on a ~10-minute charge.

Comfort: Plush ear cushions, adjustable headbands, and lightweight designs are ideal for travel headphones. It can be hard to cram all these features in a pair of headphones that has it all (great battery life, sound quality, etc.), so don’t brush off a potential pick that has most of them, as some may need to sacrifice something like weight for better battery life.

Sound: Luckily, headphones that have the best noise-cancelling tech to offer usually have great sound quality, too. But if you want to take it to the next level, go for a pair that has a solid selection of EQ settings and/or app connectivity so you can fine-tune things to your liking.

Portability: Headphones you can fold up quickly are always nice to have when traveling, and many options come with carrying cases even if they don’t (or at least offer them separately).

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
  • Super portable and lightweight
  • Sweat-resistant
  • Comes with a kit for a custom fit
  • Touch controls
  • Low battery life compared to over-ear options

Best Earbuds for Travel: The 2nd edition of Bose’s QuietComfort earbuds takes everything that the legendary manufacturer has learned about home sound systems, and exhibits it in a single compact platform. These earbuds bring all of the company’s lauded audio qualities and latest ANC tech to the realm of travel, alongside innovative voice-assisted properties like Alexa, the Bose Fit Kit with a variety of bud tips to get the perfect fit, and multiple levels of noise-canceling to keep you focused throughout the day.

With these, you’ll be able to keep all of the distractions out or allow ambient sound in, making them an adaptable solution to noisy commutes where concentration is key. If you need help, access Alexa and Google Assistant at the touch of a button; and while you’re at it, check out the Bose Music App to personalize EQ, noise-cancellation, and personalize your experience even more.

Battery: ~6 hours
Case Battery: 24 hours
Resistance: IPX4
Quick Charge: 20 minutes for 2 hours

Beats Studio Pro

Beats Studio Pro Wireless Headphones 0 Hero
  • Very comfy plush ear pads
  • Super long battery life
  • Spatial audio
  • Convenient for Apple users
  • Transparency mode isn’t quite as good as the AirPods Max

Best Headphones for the Plane: Beats’ Studio Pro headphones have made waves within the audio industry for their deep, clear bass, and slimline design properties. Each pair boasts the company’s revered adaptive noise cancelling, which blocks external noise as it changes throughout the day, depending on where you’re at; and thanks to the device’s 40-hour battery life, it’s safe to say that you’ll be listening to your favorite tunes day in, and day out. To bolster their performance, the implementation of a powerful custom Beats chip and custom acoustic platform ensures that your audio will remain uninhibited when listening, making these valuable peripherals one of the most dependable items on our list.

While these don’t have the latest Apple H1 or H2 chips, the sound quality, battery life, and adaptive noise cancellation make them one of the best picks for air travel (bolstered by the super comfortable plush ear pads). You’re still getting the Apple ecosystem compatibility, however, so Apple users should strongly consider these headphones (especially if the AirPods Max seems a little steep for you).

Battery: ~40 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistance: None
Quick Charge: 10 minutes for 4 hours

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2

Bowers Wilkins Px7 S2
  • Best-in-class sound quality
  • EQ and ANC settings via smartphone app
  • Lightweight design
  • Great for calls as well
  • Wearing sensors can be finicky sometimes

Best Headphones for Music: Bowers & Wilkens have already created some of the industry’s most widely acclaimed headphones, and with the Px7 S2, they’ve created something a bit more travel-minded. With these attractive offerings, you’ll be able to experience your favorite music, podcasts, and audio at the highest level, thanks to the company’s legendary 43.6mm drivers and adaptive noise-canceling properties. As an added bonus, you can rest assured knowing that each and every pair is created, and tuned, by the company’s talented engineers — the minds behind the 800 Series Diamond speakers that are used in Abbey Road Studios.

Battery life is more than adequate, with up to 30 hours on a single charge and 7 additional hours provided by a 15-minute quick charge. The arms are made with a lightweight polymer, and along with the technical fabric on the ear pads, make for a pretty lightweight design that’s comfortable for long wearing sessions. EQ settings are accessed through B&W’s smartphone app, which also lets you toggle between ANC modes and voice controls.

Battery: ~30 hours
Drivers: 43mm
Resistance: None
Quick Charge: 15 minutes for 7 hours

Sony WH-1000XM5

  • Alexa compatibility
  • Convenient adaptive noise-cancelling
  • Comfortable leather ear pads
  • Clear call quality
  • No sweat resistance

Best Headphones Overall: Sony’s Noise Cancelling WH1000XM5 was built to bring professional travelers the next evolution in silence, offering an unparalleled listening experience that’s truly best-in-class. Thanks to an innovative design that cuts through more outside sound than ever, the WH1000XM5 brings adaptive sound control, voice assistance, and Quick Attention modes to the realm of over-ear headphones, affording users the opportunity to personalize them to fit their own unique style. Inside, the company’s proprietary active noise cancellation works to drown out unwarranted sounds, providing the device’s dedicated V1 processor the ability to reproduce your in-ear sounds at an uncompromising level.

The battery gets you 30 hours on one charge, and an impressive 3 hours on a 3-minute quick charge. These earn the best overall spot because of the build and sound quality, sure; but the auto noise-cancelling optimizer that adapts to your surroundings makes them perfect for planes, trains, and automobiles (and the four beamforming mics mean your calls will sound crisp, too.)

Battery: ~30 hours
Drivers: 30mm
Resistance: None
Quick Charge: 3 minutes for 3 hours

Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max Headphones
  • Spatial audio with head tracking
  • Apple design style and quality
  • Comfortable mesh ear pads
  • Built to use with other Apple devices
  • Pricey

Best Headphones for Apple Users: It’s hard to leave out the AirPods Max whenever discussing the best noise-cancelling headphones, because they do a lot of things right, and you can easily change the ear pads whenever they get worn out. The seamless connectivity to other Apple devices is also a huge plus, and can improve workflow if you’re trying to get some work done on the road.

Inside, we have Apple’s custom dynamic driver and active noise cancellation, with a transparency mode that allows you to hear more of your surroundings. The breathable knit mesh canopy and memory foam ear cushions provide comfort during extended use, and Apple’s H1 chip is still as impressive as ever, providing some of the best sound quality in the game. These cans also come available in five different colors with the option to add an engraving if you purchase through Apple.

Battery: ~20 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistance: None
Quick Charge: 2 hours for 20 hours

The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones You Can Get

Best Noise Canceling Headphones 0 Hero

Some of these picks landed on our best noise-cancelling headphones guide, which covers some more high-quality cans for you to check out.