These days a good pair of headphones is as important a travel essential as a decent travel bag or travel wallet. Travel headphones are a great way of keeping you entertained while traveling, with many of the best also offering the fantastic added extra of noise-cancelling functionality – which is always appreciated on a plane, train, or hotel with noisy air conditioning! What’s more, travel headphones are lightweight and compact too.
But which of the 250 travel headphones on the market should you spend your hard-earned money on? Check out our detailed reviews of the very best available now!
Table of Contents
- Quick Answer: The Best Travel Games
- Top Travel Headphones
- Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $100
- Best Wireless Travel Headphones
- Best travel headphones for iPhone
- Best Travel Headphones with Microphone
- Best Over-ear Travel Headphones
- Best Travel Earbuds
- BONUS! Best Travel Pillow to use with Headphones
- Best of the Rest
Quick Answer: The Best Travel Games
- Top Travel Headphones – Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $100 – Cowin E7
- Best Wireless Travel Headphones – Sony WI 1000X
- Best travel headphones for iPhone – Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Apple Devices
- Best Travel Headphones with Microphone – Skullcandy Crusher
- Best Over-ear Travel Headphones – Aftershokz Aeropex Headphones
- Best Travel Earbuds – Skullcandy Method Earbuds
- BONUS! Best Travel Pillow to use with Headphones – Trtl Pillow Plus
|Bose QuietComfort 35 II||Check on Amazon|
|Cowin E7||Check on Amazon|
|Sony WI 1000X||Check on Amazon|
|Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Apple Devices||Check on Amazon|
|Skullcandy Crusher||Check on Amazon|
|Aftershokz Aeropex Headphones||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|Skullcandy Method Earbuds||Check on REICheck on Amazon|
|Trtl Pillow Plus||Check on Amazon|
Top Travel Headphones
These over-ear style closed-back headphones are incredibly comfortable to wear, feel sturdy in the hand, and are simple to set up and use. The QuietComfort 35 II by Bose can be used either wired or wireless and can be connected to two different devices at the same time.
These headphones also offer noise-cancelling functionality, capable of removing a large array of background sounds to create a well-balanced timbre that fits well whatever the music or podcasts you enjoy listening too, although they lack the ability to alter the sound to your own personal likes. The battery life for the QuietComfort 35 IIs is around 20 hours, with charging taking roughly two hours to fully charge.
- Wired and wireless
- Long battery life
- The over-ear style might not suit every user
- Cannot adjust timbre to personal choice
- Bose AR app only available for iOS users
- Quite bulky
Are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones for me?
If you’re looking for a pair of over-ear headphones that are going to serve you well during your travels – being comfortable, well-made, and featuring noise-cancelling – then the QuietComfort 35 II by Bose are certainly a very good buy!
Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $100
A pair of travel headphones don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. Even if you’re on a tight budget as a student or backpacker there are some fantastic pairs of travel headphones on the market to consider. The Cowin E7 active noise-cancelling headphones are one such pair! Though they might lack some of the all-round styling of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones, Cowin E7 do come in five cool colors as well as a glossy black.
More importantly perhaps for those on a budget, these headphones come in at a penny under $70, while still offering active noise-cancelling capabilities in both wired and wireless modes. A built-in microphone allows you to make hands-free calls from your smartphone, while the good-quality sound means you’ll always enjoy using your Cowin E7s.
- Great price
- Good color range
- Active noise-cancelling
- Wired and wireless
- Over-ear style
- Weight of close to 1.5 lbs
- Batteries not included
- Not as sturdy as more expensive models
Are the Cowin E7 active noise-cancelling headphones for me?
Not only do the Cowin E7 headphones offer an excellent price point for anyone traveling on a budget in the need for a good pair of headphones, but also come in some cool color choices if plain black or white isn’t quite your look. Despite the price, these headphones also offer wired and wireless modes and hands-free call taking!
Best Wireless Travel Headphones
Available in black and gold, the Sony WI 1000X are much more exciting than their name might suggest. These in-ear headphones are another closed-back form with a neckband that is both well-made and looks good. These headphones also offer some good noise cancellation despite not being an over-ear form of travel headphone.
Their basic set-up is pretty well-balanced to suit any genre of music, however, the WI 1000X also connect to Sony’s Headphones Connect app (on Android and iOS), from where users can adjust the sound profile to your exact personal tastes! These headphones provide the option of hands-free calling with vibration notifications on the neckband and have ten-hour battery life.
- Users can adjust the sound profile
- In-ear headphone
- Neckband might feel strange to some
- Only black and gold options
- Ten-hour battery life
Are the Sony WI 1000X headphones for me?
Although they are compact and lightweight, this doesn’t stop the Sony WI 1000Xs being wireless headphones with noise-cancelling functionality. They also boast the ability to receive hands-free calls, while true music lovers will adore the ability to adjust the headphones’ sound profile to exactly your preferred settings via the smartphone app.
Best travel headphones for iPhone
If you have a more recent edition of an iPhone then Apple’s decision to do away with the standard 3.5mm audio jack a few years ago means you’ll be searching for travel headphones which use a lightning connector instead. Those fine folk at Bose have come to the rescue with the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphone for Apple devices.
These wired in-ear travel headphones have added StayHear+ tips to ensure the best and most comfortable fit possible, while a built-in microphone, neck-line controls and clothing clip make it incredibly easy to switch between listening to music and making calls on your iPhone.
- Specifically made for Apple devices
- No lightning adapters required
- Built-in microphone
- In-ear headphones
- 16-hour battery life
- Only in black
Are the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Apple Devices for me?
Apple product users are limited in their choice of headphones to some extent, however, that doesn’t mean they have to settle for second best. The Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Apple devices provide all the features you’d expect from a good pair of travel headphones at this price point while being specifically made for iPhone and other Apple devices!
Best Travel Headphones with Microphone
The Skullcandy Crusher travel headphones are a simply phenomenal pair of headphones all around. Their sleek look – in black, maroon, olive green, and white – make these over-ear closed-back headphones very attractive and street worthy. But more than just looking great, these headphones do their job extraordinarily well too. The use of two full-range audio drivers in addition to two subwoofer drivers creates a strongly immersive experience with adjustable bass levels.
They are also wireless, with up to 40 hours of Bluetooth battery life after a full charge of 2.5 hours, while just ten minutes of charging promises to deliver three hours of functionality. On-ear buttons together with the built-in microphone allow you to answer calls, and adjust sound settings without the need to ever reach for your smartphone!
- Great look
- Full-range audio drivers plus subwoofer drivers
- 40 hours of battery life
- Over-ear headphones
- Weight of 0.6 lbs
- No horizontal or vertical swivel
- Soft packing bag supplied
Are the Skullcandy Crusher Travel Headphones for me?
Anyone looking for a good pair of travel headphones with a built-in microphone should be drawn towards the Skullcandy Crusher headphones. They have a nice look and excellent audio and subwoofer drivers, while Skullcandy seems to have upped the built-quality from previous headphone models! Fully wireless, they also boast an impressive 40-hour battery life.
Best Over-ear Travel Headphones
We’ve already given you some great examples of over-ear travel headphones in our other categories, but the Aftershokz Aeropex Headphones make the cut as our best over-ear travel headphones for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are incredibly lightweight, weighing in at an almost unbelievable 0.9 ounces! Then there’s the fact these travel headphones are waterproof and sturdy enough in their fit that they can be used for athletic events such as jogging or other fitness routines.
When it comes to tech, the Aeropex Headphones are wireless, and have a built-in microphone and volume control, while fitting snuggly behind the head/neck, allowing bone conduction technology to deliver sound through the skull so you’re still able to capture ambient sounds around you that you might need to hear!
- Can be used for fitness routines
- Built-in microphone
- Over-ear headphones
- Neckbrace style fitting
- 8-hour battery life
- Imported into the US
Are the Aftershokz Aeropex Headphones for me?
If you need a lightweight pair of headphones that aren’t going to fall off as soon as you take a couple of steps jogging, you really should consider the Aftershokz Aeropex Headphones. Weighing less than an ounce, these headphones are waterproof too, meaning you don’t have to stop training with them if and when the weather turns. Additionally, these headphones have built-in volume control and microphone for taking calls!
Best Travel Earbuds
The Skullcandy Method travel earbuds, or in-ear travel headphones, are also designed with sport and movement in mind and are sweat-resistant as a result. DualLock technology, together with the neck brace or ‘collar’ mean these travel headphones are easy to keep in place even when active.
They have Bluetooth connectivity and a built-in microphone for answering any calls you might receive while out and about, while you’ll find further controls within easy reach on the collar. The battery for the Skullcandy Method Earbuds charges in just 2.5 hours, giving users nine hours of music – enough for a double marathon!
- Made for movement
- Built-in microphone
- Controls on neck collar
- In-ear headphones
- Neck collar might be uncomfortable to some
- 9-hour battery life
- Not fully wireless
Are the Skullcandy Method Earbuds for me?
Using headphones while doing heavy exercise can be difficult, but the Skullcandy Method Earbuds have DualLock technology and a neck collar to prevent the buds slipping or falling out. What’s more, the collar incorporates a whole load of useful controls alongside a built-in microphone for taking calls and wireless Bluetooth connectivity so you don’t get tangled up in wires as you break those personal training records!
BONUS! Best Travel Pillow to use with Headphones
You’re on a plane, or train, or bus, and want to while away the time with music and podcasts but also want to be comfortable throughout by using a travel pillow. What do you do? You need a travel pillow that won’t interfere with your headphones, with the Trtl Pillow Plus a great example of its kind.
Being scarf-like wrap rather than a traditional travel pillow it is soft to the touch, lightweight and unbulky while providing all the support you need to rest well thanks to a in-built plastic headrest. Leaving the ears and lower head free, the Trtl Pillow Plus doesn’t clash with headphones, whether you prefer to use over-ear or in-ear versions, making it the perfect addition to your travel must-haves!
- Perfect for travel headphones!
- In-built support limits you to one sleeping position
- One-size only
- Not a traditional travel pillow
- No direct connectivity to travel headphones
Is the Trtl Pillow Plus Travel Headphone Pillow for me?
Offering a great combination of features that are easily useable in collaboration with a pair of travel headphones makes the Trtl Pillow Plus a great choice for any traveler. Lightweight, and much less bulky than a traditional travel pillow, it provides comfortable support for those looking to rest that doesn’t get in the way of headphone use.
Best of the Rest
The Plantronics Backbeat over-ear headphones have an attractive vintage look of black and tan that provides up to 24 hours of wireless music before having to connect up to a cable or charge. Its Bluetooth connectivity extends to a very healthy 100 meters with the ability to be connected to two different devices at the same time, while these headphones are also great for travel because they can be twisted flat and kept in a protective travel sleeve.
On top of that, the Plantronics Backbeat headphones have active noise-cancelling that massively reduces ambient noise while providing top quality audio with powerful audio drivers which create a sound that is rich right across the sound spectrum.
- Stylish look
- Long battery life
- Travel-friendly design
- 100m Bluetooth connectivity
- Very specific style
- Over-ear headphones
- 6 lb in weight
- No built-in microphone
Are the Plantronics Backbeat headphones for me?
When it comes to headphones that look the part as well as sounding the part, the Plantronics Backbeat over-ear headphones are another fine choice! Not only do they offer great sound quality, but have a battery life that lasts an entire day on one charge, and twist flat so they can be safely packed away without taking up huge amounts of space.
Although the Sennheiser brand may not be as well known as Sony, Bose, or Skullcandy, we think these over-ear headphones deserve looking at! Although wireless, the use of Bluetooth 4.0 and aptx technologies ensures a fine sound quality can still be enjoyed. Users of these headphones can also enjoy NoiseGard active noise-cancelling, removing all that irritating ambient background noise that are frequently found in offices, and on various forms of transport.
Ear-mounted buttons make it really easy and simple to stay in control, while the built-in microphone ensures you can make and take calls without reaching for your smartphone. These headphones also come with a very good battery life of 19 hours after a full charge!
- High-quality sound
- NoiseGard active noise-cancelling
- Ear-mounted buttons and built-in microphone
- Over-ear design
- No protective carry case supplied
- Weight of 8 ounces
- Not great for those larger in stature
Are the Sennheiser HD 4.50 headphones for me?
If branding isn’t all important to you, lesser-known Sennheiser has been creating noise-cancelling headphones since 1984, giving them an incredible pedigree and heritage in this sort of technology. The HD 4.50 headphones also offer wireless listening for up to 19 hours in one go, alongside a built-in microphone for making wireless calls, and ear-mounted buttons for easy control.
One of the chunkier over-ear headphones on our list, the Jabra Elite 85h are fully wireless headphones with smart active noise cancellation that kicks in automatically if it detects background noise such as the hum of an aircraft. Their very clever SmartSound technology means that you’re always guaranteed the best quality sound for your environment, while even with active noise-cancelling switched on they offer a battery life of 36 hours on a single charging.
Users can also get five hours of action with just 15 minutes of charging – perfect if you’re never in the same place for very long! The Jabra Elite 85h headphones also have eight built-in microphones for the very best call quality whatever the noise coming from your background surroundings.
- Fully wireless
- Smart active noise cancellation
- 36-hour battery life
- Multiple built-in microphones for making calls
- Quite bulky to wear
- Water resistant but not water proof
- Over-ear headphones
- Short charging cable
Are the Jabra Elite 85h headphones for me?
These over-ear headphones are impressive all-rounders in an ever-busier marketplace. With active noise-cancelling that is triggered automatically when it picks up background noise, and SmartSound tech that guarantees top-quality sound whatever that background, users can be sure never to miss a beat. And with 8 different microphones built-in, those you talk to wireless won’t have any problem picking up what you’re saying either!
The little brother or sister of the Bose QuietControl 35 II (already reviewed above), the Bose QuietControl30 wireless headphones offer great sound despite their lightweight nature! These in-ear headphones and next collar incorporate controls on the wire connecting earbud with collar, while these headphones are otherwise wireless.
These headphones also offer the ability to alter the level of noise cancellation to your immediate surroundings, while offering both Bluetooth and NFC connectivity. A dual microphone system makes calls clearer than with headphones using a single built-in microphone and can be used for up to 10 hours on a single full charge.
- Easy access controls at ear level
- Adaptive noise cancellation technology
- Dual microphone system for clear calls
- In-ear headphones
- Neck collar may be awkward for some
- Do not allow Bose music sharing
- 10-hour battery life
Are the Bose QuietControl 30 headphones for me?
If you like the sound of the Bose QuietControl 35 II but are after something a little lighter and less bulky then the BoseQuietControl 30 are the ideal alternative. With Bluetooth and NFC wireless connectivity and two in-built microphones, you can listen to music and make calls without having to reach for your smartphone, with these headphones having enough battery life to keep you entertained on the move for up to 10 hours.
Folding in on themselves to reduce the amount of space they take up in a bag, these over-ear headphones by Philips have a luxurious-feeling memory foam cover than rests over or on top of your ears, to make sure they remain comfortable throughout the day! There’s in-line control and a microphone switch for moving effortlessly between listening to music and taking or making a call, while the specially-designed standalone acoustic chambers and optimized 40mm neodymium drivers ensure good sound quality. The Philips NC1 headphones also feature noise-cancellation technology, and come in at just 8 ounces in weight!
- Folding to reduce storage space
- Memory foam covers
- Great quality sound
- Noise-cancelling tech
- Lack some style
- Over/on-ear headphones
- Not wireless
- Imported to US
Are the Philips NC1 headphones for me?
These Philips NC1 headphones provide a good balance between cost, sound quality, usability, and size. Ear comfort is protected through the use of memory foam covers, while the drivers and acoustic chambers used to create a wonderful sound. Further, the Philips NC1 have noise-cancelling technology built-in, so however noisy the surrounding environment you find yourself in, you’ll still be able to enjoy music as it should be heard.
How to choose the best travel headphones for you
Over-ear versus in-ear headphones
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when you’re thinking of splashing out on a new pair of travel headphones is which sort of headphone do you prefer? Are you a fan of over-ear headphones that make it much easier to become fully immersed in what you’re listening to, or in-ear headphones which tend to be lighter but have slightly reduced sound qualities as a result? Do you like the feel of the neck collars/braces that accompany many modern in-ear choices?
Also, bear in mind what activity or activities you plan to use these headphones for! For example, if you intend to primarily use your new headphones for exercise or activities with a lot of movement, be sure to pick a pair that are specifically built for the purpose. That way, you’ll be sure that your headphones will last, and resist the rigors of running, for instance.
Wired, wireless, and true wireless
For most people, deciding between wired, wireless, and true wireless travel headphones is a pretty easy choice coming down to personal preference and what you’re used to. We’d say doing away with wires is definitely the way to go, especially when traveling, when there are already ten different things to get tangled up in! As for the difference between wireless and true wireless, a wireless travel headphone will connect to your smartphone or device through Bluetooth but might have a wire between earbud and neck brace, while you’ll find no wires on any sort in a truly wireless travel headphone.
Other features to consider
While most brands of headphone in the same price bracket will have similar features, its worth noting down exactly what you are looking for in your pair of travel headphones. We’d say finding a pair with good noise-cancelling functionality is all important when traveling – given the amount of noisy downtime you’re likely to face on planes, trains, and elsewhere. The so-called ‘ambient’ noise on a plane can hit 60 decibels for example, which explains why its always so difficult to fully hear films using the airline’s free headphones.
In addition, are you also looking for compact size, so that your travel headphones pack down really small (another reason to opt for in-ear headphones perhaps)? Maybe it’s sound quality which is more important to you.
You will also want to decide whether or not you’re going to want a built-in microphone system, enabling you to make hands-free calls. Frankly we say that if you’re going to be using your smartphone to listen to music, why not also have that hands-free capability!
A final point for all those iPhone and iPad users out there
Don’t forget that if you’re a user of Apple iOS products you’re going to need to take the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack into consideration for wired headphones, or you’ll also be faced with needing to add a lightning adapter to your kit list!
When you’re thinking about travel headphones there’s a lot to consider – as you’ve probably already discovered! However, the good news is that we’ve done much of the hard graft for you guys, and we’ve cast our eyes across the 250 different travel headphones out there to bring you only the very best! What’s more, our links make it really easy to make that purchase a reality – so get clicking!
Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.
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Ralph is a former manager in the hospitality industry turned wild child. With a desire to experience all things unconventional, Ralph enjoys visiting the lesser-known landscapes of the world and has ended up in some pretty strange and wonderful places. Recently, he spent eight months travelling around Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, spending as much time as possible in the wilderness and doing everything to avoid the crowds.