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The 6 Best Travel Headphones - Spring 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Travel Headphones

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 715 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.


  1. Best Travel Headphones

    The best travel headphones with an over-ear design we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These premium headphones come packed with features, and while you can buy a newer model, the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless, these still provide the best noise cancelling performance for long journeys. Their fantastic active noise cancelling (ANC) feature blocks 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 won'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.

    Their bass-heavy sound profile adds extra thump and rumble to your audio. 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, 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.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Travel Headphones

    The Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless are the best noise cancelling headphones for travel in the upper mid-range we've tested. These over-ears are 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. Compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they don't block out quite the same amount of bass range noise, like the low rumble of bus and plane engines, but 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.

    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 cheaper, you can start your search in the mid-range with the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless. They have a shorter battery life than the Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless but have a similarly sturdy build and comfortable fit for most people. The manufacturer advertises the ANC system to adjust itself to the noise around you, and it can block out a remarkable amount of ambient sound, including rumbling engines. Their overall noise isolation performance is almost as good as the Sony's, so you might prefer them to the Razer if that's your priority.

    However, their sound profile isn't as neutral as the Razer. It's v-shaped, which lends your audio intense rumble and punch, while instruments and vocals are bright and somewhat harsh. If you prefer a different sound, they work with a companion app that has a graphic EQ and presets. They don't have a virtual surround sound feature, unlike the Razer. They last for around 27 hours of continuous use, 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 that we've tested. Anker tends to dominate the mid-to-budget price range for over-ear headphones, especially when noise cancelling is important, like if you need headphones for the plane or train. These headphones are significantly cheaper than the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, but their ANC performs similarly. 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 work with a companion app that includes a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization. These headphones are well-built, 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. If you want budget-friendly headphones with less leakage, the Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless are also a good option. They don't isolate from bass-range noise like rumbling engines as well as the Q30 but 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, and like their predecessor, they outshine similarly-priced headphones from other brands in terms of 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.

    Out of the box, they have a v-shaped sound profile, with intense rumble and punch as well as bright, sparkly instruments and lead vocals. This sound is well-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop, as well as 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

    The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless are the best travel earbuds we've tested. Unlike over-ears, earbuds can slip into your pocket when you're on the go. You might also prefer them for travel if you don't like the fit of over-ears. These premium earbuds have an incredible noise isolation performance. They effectively reduce a wide range of noise, from rumbling plane engines to chatting passengers. Our test rig doesn't fully capture the amount of bass these buds produce due to the shape of the rig's ear canals. Subjectively, their bass-heavy sound profile packs some extra rumble and punch to please fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop, but it also muddies vocals and instruments. Luckily, they're compatible with an app that includes a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization.

    Their battery life of around six hours is a downside, especially if you need earbuds for long flights. However, they come with a case that holds additional charges, so you can top up the battery as needed. They're very comfortable and have good build quality, but considering their price, they don't feel particularly premium. The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are similarly priced and have a better build quality. Unfortunately, their ANC doesn't block out as much noise as the Bose, but they offer extra features for iPhone users, like easy pairing with Apple devices and virtual surround sound.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • 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. Their ANC doesn't block out as much bass-range noise, but they still do an excellent overall job of reducing ambient noise around you. See our review
  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless: The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are over-ear headphones with a premium design and a remarkably effective ANC feature, but they don't fold into a more compact design. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they come with a carrying sleeve, but it doesn't completely cover the headphones and won't protect them from significant damage. See our review
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3: The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 are wireless earbuds with a longer continuous battery life than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless. They're cheaper but aren't as comfortable, and their ANC isn't as effective, particularly when blocking out low-pitched noise like rumbling engines. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Mar 13, 2023: Added the Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless as an alternative to the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless.

  2. Jan 12, 2023: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Q45 Wireless, and the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless. Moved the Sennheiser to Notable Mentions.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

All Reviews

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

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