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 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 650 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 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. 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, making them among the best headphones for airplane, bus, and car trips.
If you're looking for more comfortable headphones for long trips, check out the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. While they don't feel as well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they have a lighter fit that doesn't clamp your head as tightly. Thanks to their ANC system, they have a superb noise isolation performance and can block out bus and plane engine rumbles well. They also have roughly 20 hours of continuous playback time and are equipped with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life when you're not using them. Their well-balanced sound profile is suitable for a variety of audio content, although their companion app doesn't offer an EQ or presets to help you tweak them to better match your tastes.
Try the Sony if you're looking for over-ears with better build quality and more customization features. However, if you prioritize comfort when traveling, consider the Bose instead.
The best in-ear headphones for travel we've tested are the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless. These headphones have a great ANC system that can block out the rumbles from bus and plane engines, as well as commuter chatter. Thanks to a firmware update, you can also find a variety of ANC preset modes in their companion app if you prefer a different amount of noise isolation.
These headphones have a very neutral sound profile that's versatile enough for most kinds of audio content. That said, if you prefer a different sound, their app offers a graphic EQ and some EQ presets so that you can customize their sound to suit your tastes. They have over seven hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case holds roughly two additional charges, which is handy in a pinch.
Unfortunately, they lack track skipping controls, so you need to pull out your device if you want to change a song, and they have a fairly bulky design that sticks out of your ear. However, they still feel lightweight and decently comfortable, making them a suitable choice for long trips or days on the road.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best commuter headphones under $100 that we've tested. These well-built headphones have an ANC feature you can set to three different levels in the companion app. When set to 'Transport' mode, it does an outstanding job of blocking out ambient sound, especially noise like the low rumble of bus and plane engines.
They have good onboard controls that you can use to control your music, change the volume, and cycle through ANC modes. The earcups swivel to lay flat, which makes it easier to carry them around your neck, and they come with a hard case to protect them when you're on the go. These headphones also have a very long, 44-hour continuous battery life, which is great for long trips.
Unfortunately, while they have a comfortable fit, the padding on the headband is a bit thin, which may cause some discomfort if you wear them for a long time. Their bass-heavy sound profile isn't for everyone, but you can adjust it with a graphic EQ and presets in their app. Overall, if you're looking for noise cancelling headphones for your next trip, these are a solid, affordable option.
If you want more portable headphones for traveling, take a look at the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless. While they have a significantly shorter continuous playback time than the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they have a much lighter in-ear design, which is easy to stuff into most pockets or bags. They also have a similarly comfortable and well-built design as their over-ear counterpart. Thanks to their ANC, they can block out a significant amount of ambient noise, like bus engine rumbles and passenger chatter. You can also customize their bass-heavy default sound profile to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. Although they have under six hours of continuous battery life, their carrying case holds roughly four extra charges if you need it.
Consider the Life Q30 if you're looking for over-ear headphones with an outstandingly long continuous battery life. However, if you want more portable headphones and prefer the fit and feel of in-ear buds, check out the Life P3 instead.
The TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless are the best budget travel headphones that we've tested. These wallet-friendly in-ears have an ANC system that does an excellent job of cutting down the bassy rumbles of bus and plane engines. They also don't leak a lot of audio, even at high volumes, so you shouldn't disturb others around you.
They have over eight hours of continuous battery life, which should last through long days on the go. If you need it, their sturdy carrying case also holds two additional charges, which is handy in a pinch. These buds have a decently comfortable and well-built design too. Their v-shaped sound profile delivers extra thump and boom while sibilants like cymbals are bright, making them especially suitable for genres like rock and pop.
Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app and lack customization features like an EQ to help you adjust their sound to suit your tastes. If you need to take a call while commuting, their integrated mic also offers a disappointing noise handling performance. As a result, your voice can be drowned out by moderate ambient sound. That said, their great noise isolation performance makes them a solid choice at this price point.
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.
Sep 27, 2021: Replaced the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless with the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless as the Anker offer more versatile performance. Also replaced the TOZO N7 Truly Wireless with the TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless as the NC7 are no longer available.
Jul 29, 2021: Replaced the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 with the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless as the 'Best Budget Travel Headphones' because the TaoTronics are out of stock.
Jun 01, 2021: Verified that picks still represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
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.