Whether you're planning an upcoming flight across the globe or just take the subway to work every day, a good pair of travel headphones can be a total game-changer. Having something comfortable with great noise isolation can make your travels much easier to endure and even enjoyable at times.
When looking for the best travel headphones, you'll want something easy-to-use for when you're hunting down your gate or running to catch the bus, with a long enough battery life to last you throughout the day. While many people prefer over-ear headphones for long flights or train rides, earbuds or in-ear headphones are popular as well for their portability. Usually, models with active noise cancelling (ANC) do the best job at reducing the deep rumbling noises of bus or plane engines, but some in-ear headphones block out lots of noise passively, too.
We've tested over 570 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best travel headphones. Also, make sure to check out our recommendations for the best headphones, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best noise cancelling headphones.
The best travel headphones that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These comfortable, well-built over-ears have an ANC feature that does an outstanding job blocking out background noises like bus and plane engines. Thanks to their over 37-hour continuous battery life, they're well-suited for the longest international flights.
They have a bass-heavy default sound profile that adds an extra thump and rumble to your favorite tracks. If you prefer a different sound, there's a graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app to help you customize your listening experience. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, they allow for multi-device pairing, making it easy to switch your audio source from your laptop to your phone when you're on the go.
Unfortunately, like most over-ears, they have a slightly bulky design that isn't very portable. Fortunately, they fold down into a more compact format, and they come with a carrying case to help protect them from falls and scrapes. Overall, they have a decently versatile performance that should please many different listeners.
If you're looking for a pair of travel headphones and comfort is your top priority, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. While they aren't as well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, these over-ears are extremely well-padded, so they can be comfortably worn for long periods without a lot of fatigue. They have a 20-hour continuous battery life that's ideal for your longest days on the go. Their ANC feature isn't as outstanding as the Sony, but they can still block out the sound of engines and other background noises well. Their default sound profile is quite balanced, with a little extra warmth and thump in the bass range. Unfortunately, they don't come with any sound customization features, which may be disappointing for some listeners.
If you want better-built headphones with longer continuous battery life and more customization features, check out the Sony, but if you prefer a more comfortable option, consider the Bose.
The best commuter headphones we've tested for those who prefer in-ears are the Apple AirPods Pro. They have a surprisingly powerful active noise cancelling feature for such tiny truly wireless earbuds, making them a portable option if you're looking to reduce noise on-the-go. They're comfortable, well-built, and fit securely enough not to fly out of your ears if you have to sprint to catch the bus.
These in-ears have a very well-balanced, neutral sound signature that lends itself well to music of a very wide range of genres. Some might find them a bit light on bass, but this can vary from person-to-person. They cancel an exceptional amount of noise, especially for wireless earbuds, and don't leak much sound. This means you can raise your listening volume a bit to help block out more noise without having to worry too much about bothering those around you, which is nice when you're stuck in a crowded subway car.
Unfortunately, their battery only lasts for around five hours of continuous playback. This shouldn't be too much of an issue if you make sure to keep them in their wireless charging case when they're not in use but can be a bummer if you want to watch your favorite movies back-to-back on the plane. That said, it's a small price to pay for the freedom that truly wireless earbuds provide, especially while traveling.
If you don't want to worry about recharging your headphones too often, consider the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless. While their ANC reduces less mid-range noise like ambient chatter than the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless and they don't feel as well-built, the EarFun have a longer continuous battery life of over nine hours. Their ANC still performs great overall though and it can cut down bus and plane engine rumbles. These headphones also have a comfortable and breathable fit, which is great for long trips. They have a well-balanced sound profile with a touch of extra bass, making them well-suited for a variety of content, and their carrying case holds around 2.5 extra charges.
Take a look at the Apple if you're looking for the best noise isolation performance to help cut down noise during your travels. However, try the EarFun if you want a continuous battery life that can last through long flights or trips.
The best travel headphones under $200 that we've tested are the Razer Opus. These ANC Bluetooth over-ears prove that you don't need to spend a fortune to get an impressive ANC feature packaged in a well-built and premium design. They look very similar to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless and are just as comfortable. Their 33-hour battery life lasts longer than all of the other recommendations on this list, and they have easy-to-use physical buttons, come with a great hard carrying case, and look and feel very durable and well-built.
Their default sound profile is very well-balanced and accurate, making them versatile enough for most genres and content. While fans of genres like EDM or hip-hop may find they lack a bit of bass, their sound profile can easily be adjusted via a graphic EQ and presets within their dedicated companion app. Their ANC performance is remarkable, and they block low-bass sounds like bus or plane engines even better than the much more expensive Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018.
Unfortunately, if you take a lot of phone calls while on-the-go, these may not be the best choice as their microphone performance is only mediocre overall. They also lack some additional features, like the ability to pair to two devices at once, making it more difficult to quickly switch between your phone and laptop. That said, they provide an outstanding price-to-performance ratio and are a great travel companion if you don't want to spend a ton on a pair of premium headphones.
If you're looking for a more wallet-friendly pair of over-ears, consider the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. While they're not as comfortable or well-built as the Razer Opus Wireless, the Anker offer an outstanding noise isolation performance at a more affordable price. Their ANC can cut down bus and plane engine noise as well as ambient chatter. If you need more or less noise isolation, there are three ANC levels that you can select to better-match your surroundings. Although they have a very excited sound profile, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so that you can customize them to your liking. They also last over 44 hours on a single charge and can be paired with up to two devices at once, which is nice if you want to be connected to both your smartphone and laptop at the same time. However, they leak audio, which may annoy other travelers around you if you're listening to audio at high volumes.
If you're looking for comfortable headphones that feel better-built, try the Razer, but go for the Anker if you're looking for headphones at a lower price point without sacrificing too much on noise isolation performance.
The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 are the best budget travel headphones that we've tested. While their price tends to fluctuate a bit, these budget-friendly headphones are also one of the best budget noise cancelling headphones that we've tested, thanks to their amazing ANC. It can block out the rumble of bus and plane engines as well as cut down ambient chatter so you can focus on other things while traveling.
They have a stable fit, are well-built, and are rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test this. They also have a good, touch-sensitive control scheme that's easy to use when you're on-the-go. Their Bluetooth latency on iOS and Android is pretty low, so you can stream videos from your phone while you're traveling. Although their bass-heavy and dark sound profile might not be for everyone, it's well-suited for genres like EDM or hip-hop.
Unfortunately, they lack any sound enhancement features to help tweak their sound to your liking. They also have a short continuous battery life of under four hours, which may not be enough to get you through a long flight or bus ride. Luckily, their carrying case provides around three extra charges and they have an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life when not in use.
Apr 02, 2021: Added the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless as 'Alternative With Better Battery Performance' due to their ANC's great overall performance. Also verified our picks for availability and accuracy.
Feb 01, 2021: Replaced Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless. Removed 'Cheaper Alternative' category and corresponding ENACFIRE E60 pick to 'Best In-Ear Headphones For Travel' main pick. Added new 'Cheaper Alternative' category to 'Best Travel Headphones Under $200' main pick. Added Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless to 'Cheaper Alternative' category. Added Apple AirPods Max Wireless, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless, Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Truly Wireless, Jabra Elite 85t Truly Wireless, and JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Dec 01, 2020: Replaced Aukey Latitude Wireless with ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless. Replaced Mpow H10 Wireless with Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless.
Oct 01, 2020: Replaced the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless as 'Best Travel Headphones'. Added the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless as a Notable Mention.
Jul 03, 2020: Removed the Sony WI-1000X Wireless and added the Razer Opus Wireless as 'Best Travel Headphones Under $200'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best travel headphones for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones, ranked by their suitability for commuting and traveling. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection, especially if you listen to audio at high enough volumes to drown out the ambient noise of your travels.