Top 5 Best Headphones for Travel in 2023

Best Headphones for Travel

Have you ever wondered what the best headphones for travel are, nowadays?

If you’re anything like me, you love to travel, but don’t love noise, chaos, or chatty people talking your ears off for an entire 21-hour plane ride. I mean, ye gads, that’s every introvert and highly-sensitive person’s nightmare. Times like those make you really want to screw in some heavy-duty earplugs and just mute the world… but then you realize you can’t listen to your favorite music or audiobook if you do that.

But your earbuds let in all the ambient noise, you say. Unless you crank them up to the point where it’s painful, you’re stuck with the screaming baby in the back of Economy, the snoring guy sawing logs like a drunken lumberjack across the aisle, and let’s not even start in on the Chatty Cathy ignoring your earbuds and blabbing your ear off in the seat next to you. You can’t escape it.

A nightmare, right?

Right. But it doesn’t have to be.

There’s no such thing as a pair of perfect headphones. However, noise-canceling technologies have recently made it easier than ever to block outside noise around you and enjoy what you want to enjoy- without those pesky social butterflies interrupting your latest reread (re-listen?) of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Since noise-canceling headphones come in all varieties, you can enjoy your audio with over-ear headphones, in-ear headphones, bone-conduction headphones, wireless headphones, wired headphones… they come in all varieties. It’s up to you to decide which is your best choice for travel, airplanes, noisy car rides, or whichever other situation you find yourself adventuring in.

Hopefully, this article will help narrow down the endless selection.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 picks for the best noise-canceling headphones of 2022… and even some that aren’t noise-canceling, but that you can make that way with a few little tweaks.

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5 Best Headphones for Travel in 2023 (for under $300)

1. JVC

best battery life

JVC Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

With a ridiculously-long battery life, voice-recognition compatibility, and foldaway design at a reasonable price, these particular headphones (and other JVC models) are a real bargain for their quality.

Key Features:

  • Great battery life
  • Wired options
  • Impressive sound quality
  • Decent sound-blocking effect
  • Manual buttons on headphones for power on/off, volume down, volume up
  • Fold down flat for easier transportation


  • Inexpensive to Mid-range
  • $20-$99


  • 42-hour rechargable battery
  • Active noise-cancelling
  • Voice assistant recognition
  • Large earpads
  • Ambient sound mode
  • Folds flat for easy storage

Product Cons

  • Bulky compared to others
  • ANC not the best
  • Sound quality varies

When it comes to over-ear headphones, these are my personal favorites. Don’t let JVC’s inexpensive pricetag fool you. Some of their models may not be active noise-canceling, but the wireless ANC headphones offer have some of the best battery life I’ve found of any models on the market for their price point. While some may think they’re bulky (and for shoestring travelers and backpackers who REALLY travel light, they certainly are), since they’re over-ear, they also send a good, clear signal to bystanders that you Do Not Want to Be Disturbed.

After all, what kind of rude person would lean over and yell at you through your headphones just to talk? They’d be thrown off the plane.

I think the wired ones are some of the best airplane headphones out there because you don’t have to shut them off during takeoff, and the cord is long enough that you can still move around without getting it caught on the seat’s armrest.

If you ask me, these are the best budget headphones you can find, which also means they’re not expensive to replace if they get lost, stolen, or ruined on a trip.

2. Skullcandy

best mid-range headphones

Skullcandy Crusher Wireless ANC Headphones

These headphones’ battery life is nearly as good as the JVC model’s. Its active noise cancelling is better, though, as is its sound, which is why this is one of my favorite choices.

Key Features:

  • Great battery life
  • Wired options
  • Impressive sound quality
  • Great bass
  • Decent sound-blocking effect
  • Aviators offer large, comfortable earpads
  • Large earpads send “Do Not Disturb” message


  • Inexpensive to Mid-range
  • $30-$70

Product Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • 40 hour rechargeable battery
  • Active noise canceling
  • Color choice
  • Waterproof
  • Foldable, lightweight
  • Earpads are replaceable

Product Cons

  • Questionable battery longevity
  • Made of plastic
  • Somewhat fragile

I’ve been in love with Skullcandy since college, when I discovered that their headphones had some unintentional noise-blocking qualities along with fantastic sound quality. Even Skullcandy’s earbuds have excellent bass, which stands out in a world where earbud sound usually lacks. Regardless of the model, the bass is deep, punchy, and full, making it perfect for fans of electronic music or hip-hop. The earbuds even stay securely in your ears. Most models have a built-in mic and remote so you can take calls or control your music without having to reach for your phone.

These are a little pricier than some of the JVC headphones, but well worth the extra $20 or so.

3. Bose

most adaptable

Bose QuietComfort 45 Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Headphones

These headphones’ noise-canceling technology is some of the best on the market, and Bose is known for their sound quality. This particular model also lets you customize the treble, mid-range, and bass levels to your own particular comfort. It even includes a wire that you can use to plug it in when not on battery power. The only drawback is the 24-hour battery life.

Key Features:

  • Decent battery life
  • Active noise-canceling
  • Impressive sound quality
  • Great bass
  • Adjustable EQ
  • Wire available to plug in when in use


  • Mid-range to Expensive
  • $75-$300

Product Pros

  • Adjustable EQ
  • Top-line noise-canceling tech
  • High-fidelity audio
  • Quiet and Aware modes
  • Wire adapter
  • Color choice

Product Cons

  • 24-hour battery life
  • Some reports of bad audio
  • White-noise sound

Bose is known for making some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market. Their top-notch quality and cutting-edge technology are what put their headphones on this list, anyway. Bose’s headphones feature advanced active noise cancellation that blocks out external noises, allowing you to focus on your music or audio without any distractions.

The sound quality is excellent, with crisp and clear output that makes listening to music a pleasure. They also come with comfortable earpads and adjustable headbands so you can wear them for extended periods without feeling discomfort. Bose has become synonymous with high-end audio products, making them a great choice if you’re looking for noise-canceling headphones that combine superb sound quality, durability and comfort.

The only other drawbacks are their price-points and the size of some of their over-ear models. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little luggage space and a few greenbacks, though, grab a pair of these comfortable headphones and enjoy those sweet, sweet tunes.

4. Sony

best overall over-ear headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4 Bluetooth Noise-canceling over-ear headphones

While these headphones may be bulky, they more than make up for their size in sound quality and their ability to block external noises. With voice assistant recognition, a built-in microphone, three color choices, and a decent battery life, these are a must-have for any introvert wanting to send out a “Do Not Disturb” message to other travelers.

Key Features:

  • Decent battery life
  • Quick-charge feature (10 minutes charging for 5 hours playback)
  • Impressive sound quality
  • Wearing-detecting pauses playback when headphones are removed
  • Active noise canceling technology


  • Expensive
  • $150-$350

Product Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • 30-hour battery life
  • Wear-detection technology
  • Dual Noise-Sensor ANC Tech
  • Multi-device pairing

Product Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some loss of sound quality
  • Touch controls cause skipping
  • Controlled through app
  • Pairing can be a challenge

Everybody knows Sony. They make great TVs, great Blu-Ray players, great stereo systems- and, of course, great headphones. Sony headphones are some of the best in the world and they come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and sizes. Whether you’re looking for something stylish to wear out or something more rugged and durable for working out, Sony has something that will fit your needs.

The sound quality is top-notch and provides great bass response. Sony headphones are also built to last and often come with warranties if anything should go wrong. So if you’re looking for a great pair of headphones to send your “Do Not Disturb” message, look no further than these!

Again, some of their models are bulky as well as a little pricey, but overall, they’re well worth the expense. You’ll be jiving in peace in no time!

5. Aftershokz

best sporty bone-conduction headphones

Aftershokz OpenRun Pro Bone-conduction headphones

My personal favorite are the Aftershokz line of headphones. Their open-ear design make them comfortable to wear, and they transfer sound directly into your inner-ear by way of your cheekbones. They’re sweatproof, so they’re perfect for workouts, walking, hiking, or just hanging around – and if you want to put the world on mute, you can put in a pair of inexpensive earplugs and still hear your audio without a problem.

Key Features:

  • Bone-conduction headphones
  • Excellent sound
  • Bypasses eardrums, great for people with ear injuries
  • Built-in microphone for calls
  • Magnetic charging connection
  • Open-ear model
  • Can use noise-blocking earplugs with them


  • Mid-range
  • $99-$190

Product Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Minimalist design
  • Compact
  • Great sound quality
  • Can use with/without earplugs
  • Sweatproof
  • Some 100% waterproof models
  • Quick-charge technology

Product Cons

  • Only 8-10 hours battery life
  • Some models not waterproof
  • No ANC

Aftershokz are, hands-down, my pick for the best headphones for airplanes on the market. Why? Because they’re actually open-ear bone-conduction headphones.

“But wait!” you protest. “If they’re open-ear, how can they possibly be noise-cancelling?”

Because you can put in a set of 32 dB blocking earplugs, slip these puppies over your ears, and still enjoy your music or audiobooks while you (almost) completely block out the rest of the world.


Or, if you’re the type whose ears pop during takeoff, you can put in some of those earplugs that keep your ears from popping, and still listen to your tunes. Or, if you’re really being adventurous, you can leave out the earplugs entirely and listen to your Soundtrack of My Life (patent pending) while listening to the roar of the engines and picturing yourself in the cockpit of an F-18 during the climax of Top Gun. (Or Top Gun: Maverick. They’re both excellent movies!)

Although these headphones tend toward the more expensive end of the scale of this list, their versatility makes them worth every penny. Because they’re bone-conduction headphones, the sound waves travel through the arches of your cheekbones and directly into the tiny little bones of your inner-ear, bypassing the eardrum completely.

This means you can put in noise-blocking earplugs and still jive to your favorite tunes or, if you’re alone in a public place (such as walking down a street or working in a library), you can still tune in to your surroundings even while you’re listening to your music. They’re great for when you’re walking, jogging, or making supper. And when you just need that peace and quiet, you can shove in a pair of $0.50 earplugs from the pharmacy and suddenly all you can hear is your own noise.

They’re also wonderful for people who have ear injuries (such as a perforated eardrum) that make it difficult to hear well with normal headphones. I love wearing my Aftershokz when I’m out walking, too, because the open-ear model lets me listen to an audiobook and still be able to hear cars coming down the road behind me.

Bonus: Honorable Mentions

Blue Lola

  • Made by Blue (known for high-quality microphones such as Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball)
  • Studio-grade sound quality
  • 50mm drivers
  • Wired models only
  • Comfortable and unique design
  • Approx. $185-$250

Earbuds/In-Ear Headphones

  • Easy to find (gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, electronics stores)
  • Cheap to expensive
  • Wide variety of earbuds to be found
  • Quality depends on brand
  • Wired and bluetooth varieties
  • Comfortable for some people (Not my fave, but to each his own)
  • $5-$350 depending on quality/type/brand

In Conclusion: When Buying Headphones, Make Sure to Choose the Best Pair for Your Needs

Ultimately, when choosing headphones to buy, it all comes down to how well they meet your needs.

You may prefer the cheapest pair of earbuds you can pick up at the local Walgreens, or you may decide to spend mega money on a top-of-the-line pair of travel headphones that has some serious battery life, true wireless capabilities, optimum bass, and cat ears on top just for grins and giggles. If over-the-ear headphones are your jive, then go for those. If you prefer earbud headphones, then get whatever floats your boat.

Whatever set of headphones you get, just make sure they do what you need them to do, whether that’s noise-cancellation, great battery life, don’t-talk-to-me earpads, or bone-conduction technology so you can screw in some noise-blocking earplugs. The best headphones to take on a trip are the ones that are most-suited for your individual needs and preferences.

Don’t settle for anything less than what’s best for you.

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