Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.
We've recently released our Test Bench 1.7 update for Headphones! Read the Noise isolation R&D Article to learn more.

The 6 Best Travel Headphones - Summer 2024 Reviews

Updated Jul 04, 2024 at 10:54 am
Best Travel Headphones

Whether you're a jet setter or just taking 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 makes your travels much easier to endure and even more enjoyable.

When looking for travel headphones, you'll want something easy to use when hunting down your gate or running to catch a bus, with a long enough battery life to last you throughout the day. While many prefer over-ear headphones for long flights or train rides, earbuds or in-ear headphones are popular 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.

We've tested over 795 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones for airplane use, traveling, and commuting. Also, make sure to check out our recommendations for the best headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best budget noise cancelling headphones.

  1. Best Travel Headphones

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless are the best travel headphones we've tested. These top-of-the-line over-ears have a very comfortable fit and are suitable for long trips. They are equipped with powerful ANC and can block out a wide array of sounds, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines. And with their ANC on, they last 29 hours continuously, so you don't need to worry about running out of battery life. Unfortunately, the headphones need to be powered on if you want to use them wired, but at least you can plug them into in-flight entertainment without losing ANC.

    These well-built over-ears have a bass-rich sound out of the box, delivering extra thump, rumble, and boom to your favorite tracks. You can adjust their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. You can even access a head-tracking feature for a more dimensional audio experience. Additionally, you can connect these headphones with up to two devices at a time, so you can stay connected to your smartphone and laptop simultaneously, and they come with a sturdy, durable carrying case to keep them safe in your bag.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Travel Headphones

    For something premium at a cheaper price, try the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Even though they've been replaced by the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless and are getting harder to find in stock, these still provide the best noise cancelling performance for long journeys. Their fantastic ANC feature blocks bass-range noises like bus and plane engines, as well as passenger chit-chat. They also last about 37 hours continuously, so you won't need to recharge them during a long trip. You can even use them wired while keeping ANC on, and they come with an airplane adapter, all of which you can safely store in their sturdy carrying case.

    They have a lightweight and well-padded fit, though the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless still have the edge regarding comfort. However, you can wear them during long trips without experiencing too much fatigue. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds extra thump and rumble to your audio, and if you prefer a different sound, you can also tweak them via their app's graphic EQ and presets.

    If you need to take calls on the go, the Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless is worth considering. These hybrid headphones are designed for casual use and gaming but have a sleek design that doesn't stand out from the crowd. Their integrated mic offers better overall performance, so your voice sounds clear and natural. However, their ANC system doesn't block out quite as much ambient noise as that of the Sony.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Travel Headphones

    Travel is expensive enough without adding the cost of premium headphones. Fortunately, if you're looking for something more affordable, check out the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, the best headphones for airplane trips we've tested at this price point. They have a shorter battery life than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless and aren't quite as comfortable or well-built. However, they have an adaptive ANC system that adjusts itself to the noise around you and can block out a remarkable amount of ambient sound, including rumbling engines. Their overall noise isolation performance is almost as good as Sony's.

    Out of the box, they have a V-shaped sound profile with extra emphasis on the bass and treble, which gives your audio intense rumble and punch, while instruments and vocals are bright and somewhat harsh. There's a companion app with graphic EQ and presets if you prefer a different sound. They last for around 27 hours continuously with their ANC on, and, in a pinch, you can always plug the included audio cable into your phone or laptop to listen to audio passively.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Travel Headphones

    If you're looking for a cheaper option, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best commuter headphones under $100 we've tested. Anker tends to dominate the mid-to-budget price range for over-ear headphones, especially when noise cancelling is important for use on a noisy plane or train. These headphones are significantly cheaper than the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, but their ANC performs similarly, even though it's standard ANC and not adaptive. It does a fantastic job of blocking out the low rumble of engines and effectively reduces higher-pitched sounds like voices. Out of the box, their sound packs a lot of extra bass into your audio, so music has intense thump, rumble, and punch, but mixes can also sound muddy or cluttered. Like the previous pick, they have companion app support, including a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization.

    These headphones are well-built and comfortable and have a long continuous battery life of around 44 hours. Unfortunately, they leak much more audio than the Q45, so your music is more likely to be audible to people nearby, especially if you like to listen at louder volumes. The Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless are also a good option if you want budget-friendly headphones with less leakage. They don't isolate from bass-range noise, like rumbling engines, as well as the Q30, but they still have a great overall noise isolation performance.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Travel Headphones

    If you're on a tighter budget, the best cheap travel headphones we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. These are an earlier version of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless that are still available. Like their successor, they outshine similarly priced headphones from other brands in noise cancelling. Their ANC system doesn't block out as much bass-range noise as the previous picks but still does a decent job of reducing engine noise. It also does a great job of reducing higher-pitched sounds like background conversations.

    They have a V-shaped sound profile out of the box, with intense rumble and punch in the bass, bright and sparkly instruments, and lead vocals in the treble. This sound suits bass-heavy genres like EDM, hip-hop, pop, and rock. However, sibilants like S and T sounds can seem harsh, and they don't have sound customization features, unlike the Q30. That said, they have a similarly comfortable fit and a decently sturdy build quality, although they feel plasticky and only come with a cloth pouch instead of a rigid protective case like the Q30.

    See our review

  6. Best Travel Earbuds

    Over-ears can be bulky and take up precious space in your bag or carry-on. If you're looking for something smaller and more portable, earbuds like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless are worth checking out. They're comfortable and come with a selection of ear tips and stability fins to help you find the best fit for your needs. Their compact design also makes it easy to toss them into your pocket. If their bass-heavy default sound profile isn't to your tastes, you can revamp it using their companion app's EQ and presets.

    Like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, they can block out a significant amount of ambient noise, thanks to their ANC system. They easily tackle common commuter noise like rumbly buses and trains as well as ambient chatter. While their seven-hour continuous playback time falls short compared to over-ear headphones, their carrying case holds an extra three charges if needed. They don't support multi-device pairing, so if you want to stay connected to your smartphone while working on your laptop, try the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4. These also offer a better mic than the Bose and a more neutral default sound. They're not as comfortable and don't include virtual surround sound.

    If you're looking for more earbud options, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling earbuds!

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless: The Apple AirPods Max Wireless have a premium design and a remarkably effective ANC feature, but they don't fold into a more compact design. Unlike the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, they come with a carrying sleeve, which doesn't completely cover the headphones and won't protect them from significant damage. See our review
  • Bose 700 Headphones Wireless: The Bose 700 Headphones Wireless are premium ANC headphones designed for business professionals. If you care about call quality, their mic offers significantly better overall performance than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. However, their ANC doesn't block out as much bass-range noise, but they still do an excellent job of reducing ambient noise around you overall. See our review
  • Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless: The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless have a more premium build than the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless, which you might appreciate, considering the price of either pair. They have an excellent noise isolation performance but don't block out as much noise as the Bose, and they have an even shorter battery life. See our review
  • OnePlus Buds 3 Truly Wireless: The OnePlus Buds 3 Truly Wireless are budget-friendly earbuds equipped with ANC technology. While they don't block out as much external noise as the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless, they're a fraction of the price. They also offer a comfortable, stable fit and last up to seven hours with the ANC enabled. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jul 04, 2024: We replaced the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 as our alternative pick in the best travel earbuds category for their vastly superior microphone recording quality. As a result, we also removed the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 as a Notable Mention.

  2. May 02, 2024: We've added the OnePlus Buds 3 Truly Wireless as a Notable Mention due to their great cost-to-ANC-performance ratio, but our picks remain the same otherwise.

  3. Mar 04, 2024: As the Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless are the same price as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, we've removed the Razer as a separate pick and added them as a comparison to the Sony since they can be a viable choice if you care about call quality. We've also renamed the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless as the 'Best Mid-Range Travel Headphones' we've tested.

  4. Jan 08, 2024: We've made the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless our top pick as they have a versatile performance and slightly outperform the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. We also replaced the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless with the next generation Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless.

  5. Nov 02, 2023: Confirmed accuracy and availability of our picks. Some minor text edits for clarity.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling headphones for travel 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.