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 530 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. 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.
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 to spend less on a pair of wireless over-ears for commuting and travel, take a look at the Anker Soundcore Life Q30. These Bluetooth-enabled headphones aren't as comfortable as the Razer Opus Wireless and don't feel as well-built, but they're substantially cheaper and offer fantastic noise isolation performance for the price. While they don't have an auto-off timer like the Razer, their continuous battery life of over 44 hours is superior, and they offer multi-device pairing capability, so you can stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer. Unfortunately, they're a little bulky and can be a bit of a hassle to carry around when not in use, despite their durable-feeling hard case. They also leak quite a bit of audio, which may annoy nearby passengers on your commute if you listen to content at very high volumes.
Get the Razer if you want more comfortable, better-built headphones, but consider the Anker if you want to save some money without sacrificing features.
The best budget travel headphones that we've tested are the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94. These truly wireless in-ears are exceptionally easy to carry around and offer excellent noise isolation capability, thanks to an active noise cancellation (ANC) feature that blocks out low-pitched ambient audio, like the rumble of a bus engine, to a remarkable degree.
Despite their budget-friendly price, they feel quite sturdy and are rated IPX5 for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Their touch-sensitive control scheme is fairly comprehensive and decently easy-to-use, even when you're on the move, and the buds themselves do a good job of staying in your ears. Their latency on mobile iOS and Android devices is also quite low, which is good if you like to watch movies or videos on your way into the office.
Unfortunately, their continuous battery life of under four hours might not be sufficient for long trips, though their case does supply enough charge for roughly 15 hours of total playback time. They also lack any sort of customization features to adjust their boomy, muddy default sound profile, which some users may find overwhelming. Still, their amazing noise cancellation performance and relatively affordable price also help make them some of the best budget noise cancelling headphones that we've tested.
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.