Whether you're planning an upcoming flight across the globe 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 can make your travels much easier to endure and even enjoyable at times.
When looking for travel headphones, you'll want something easy to use 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 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 690 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 earbuds, and the best noise cancelling headphones.
The best travel headphones with an over-ear design we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These over-ear headphones offer a premium design and are packed with high-performing features that are sure to please most users. They have a fantastic active noise cancelling (ANC) feature to block out bass-range noises like bus and plane engines as well as passenger chit-chat. If you're worried about battery life, they last about 37 hours continuously, so you shouldn't need to recharge them during a long trip. You can even use them wired in a pinch, and they come with an airplane adapter, all of which you can safely store in their sturdy carrying case.
These over-ears have a bass-heavy default sound profile. You can adjust their sound via the companion app's graphic EQ and presets. While they have a comfortable fit, thanks to their well-padded design, if you want even more comfortable headphones, take a look at the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless. The Bose are even lighter than the Sony and clamp less tightly on your head, making for a more comfortable listening experience over time. However, the drawback is that they don't feel as well-built, and their battery life doesn't last quite as long as the Sony.
The Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless are the best upper mid-range travel headphones that we've tested. These over-ears are a bit unique as they're hybrid headphones designed for casual use and gaming. However, don't let their gamer-centric features deter you. They have a great ANC system. While they don't block out quite the same amount of bass range noise, like the low rumble of bus and plane engines, they can still easily tackle ambient chatter and the hum of fans. With their ANC on, they last over 34 hours continuously, and you can even use them while charging.
These headphones have a well-built design that's comfortable enough for long listening sessions on the go. They come with a sturdy carrying case that will protect your over-ears on the go. Their fairly neutral sound profile is also well-suited for most kinds of genres. You can fine-tune their sound to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.
The best mid-range travel headphones we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless. They're less expensive than the Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless, so they lack the gamer-centric bells and whistles like non-Bluetooth wireless connectivity. However, if you're looking for something at a lower price point and don't need these extra, non-travel-centric features, they're still worth checking out. They have a comfortable fit and are well-built, especially as they have a metal plate in the headband to help protect the headphones from damage. You can also store the headphones in their rounded carrying case when you're not using them.
These over-ears have a great overall noise isolation performance. Their ANC can block out more bass-range noise like rumbly bus engines than the Razer, and they can cut down ambient chatter around you. Thanks to their over 44 hours of continuous playback time, you'll also have plenty of battery life to last through long days on the road. If you like genres like EDM and hip-hop, their bass-heavy sound profile delivers extra thump, punch, and boom to your mixes. If you prefer a different sound, you can adjust their sound via their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best commuter headphones under $100 that we've tested. If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, it's worth checking out the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless. They offer similar overall performance in most regards, but there are a few differences. The Q30's noise isolation performance is significantly better, especially when blocking out the low rumble of plane engines. They also have a v-shaped sound profile that emphasizes bass and treble, which can make music sound boomy and sparkly. Their sound profile sounds more hollow and thin when the ANC is off, but luckily, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets to help you tweak their sound.
These over-ears have over 44 hours of continuous playback time and have a comfortable fit suitable for long listening sessions. While they have a good build quality out of the box, some users have reported that their units' headband cracked over time. On the upside, they come with a sturdy carrying case to help protect the headphones from bumps and scratches.
The best cheap travel headphones we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. If you're on a tight budget, you'll want to check out the predecessor to the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. This manufacturer is very predominant in the lower-mid-to-cheap range, and their products stand apart from other headphones at this price point. While they're otherwise simple in design, they have an ANC system, which is uncommon for cheap over-ears. While they have trouble blocking out plane engine noise, they can still make a big dent in mid-range noise like ambient chatter.
These over-ears have an excited sound profile that makes vocals and lead instruments bright and sparkly. There's also intense thump, punch, and boom, which is well-suited for genres like rock and pop. However, they lack sound customization features, so you can't adjust their sound. They have a comfortable fit suitable for long trips and are decently well-built. They feel plasticky, and their cloth carrying pouch won't protect the headphones from anything but dust and light water damage.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 are the best travel earbuds we've tested. If you prefer a lighter, more portable alternative to over-ears, these well-built buds have a noise isolation performance that outcompetes some over-ears at this price point like the Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless. Their ANC system does an excellent job of blocking background noise like the low rumble of bus and plane engines as well as passenger chit-chat. With their ANC on, they last over eight hours continuously, and if you need to top them off, their carrying case supplies an additional three charges.
They have a decently comfortable fit, though they have a deep in-ear fit, and their stability fins can put pressure on your outer ear. Their bass-heavy sound profile is well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop that can benefit from extra boom and warmth. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets.
Sep 30, 2022: We've rehauled this article to better align it with user expectations. We've added the Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless, Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless, and the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. We've also moved the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless to the Notable Mentions and removed the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless and the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless.
May 24, 2022: Article overhaul to better match user expectations. Renamed the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless, Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, and Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless. Added the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless as 'Best Travel Earbuds For Battery Life'. Also removed the Razer Opus Wireless 2020, Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless, Bose 700 Headphones Wireless, JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless, Jabra Elite 85t Truly Wireless, and the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless from Notable Mentions.
Mar 24, 2022: Replaced the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 with the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless because the QC35 II have been discontinued.
Jan 17, 2022: Made the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 the 'More Comfortable Alternative'. Added the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Nov 24, 2021: Moved the Razer Opus Wireless to Notable Mentions because they're currently hard to find in stock. Made the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 the 'Best Travel Headphones Under $200' instead. Changed the category for the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless to 'Best Travel Headphones Under $100' and made the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless their 'In-Ear Alternative'. Also replaced the TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless with the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless as the 'Best Budget Travel Headphones' because they're back in stock.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones for airplane use, travelling, and commuting 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.