The best, most comfortable headphones for long flights
Without the right gear, traveling can be an intensely uncomfortable experience. A great pair of earbuds, however, can augment a lackluster trip into a stimulating oasis of sound, and the best headphones for traveling range in price but all include premium comfort (big, cushy ear cups or earbuds), high-quality audio, excellent noise-canceling abilities and solid battery life.
Whether you’re planning a relaxing vacation or dreading an upcoming work trip, you’ll want to pick up one of the below headphones before you go — they’re all capable of transforming a ho-hum plane, train or car trip into a far more pleasurable experience.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II
Great travel headphones not only sound fantastic, but leave your ears feeling as though they’ve been encased in silk for the duration of your trip. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Headphones are extremely comfortable, easily fitting over the ear (and even earplugs, if you use them when you travel). They offer excellent noise canceling options, with well-balanced sound and excellent, bass-heavy volume, and their battery lasts for approximately 20 hours.
Tom’s Guide praised the headphones for their “snug fit” and “comfortable build,” with reviewer Craig Goldstein noting that once, he even forgot that he’d been wearing them for a nearly three-hour period. Goldstein also heavily praised the noise-canceling feature, writing that after he “flipped that switch on the NYC subway,” he couldn’t hear anything besides his music.
Buy it here: $349, Amazon
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
If you want excellent comfort but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars, these Plantronics headphones have a similar feel to the Bose headphones, but cost far less cash. They’re not the top of the line, but they’re still fantastic for wearing for long periods of time; TechRadar noted that they not only have “incredible 24-hour battery life,” but come lined with leather around the ear cups and the headband, making them “extremely comfortable” — even through an eight-hour flight.
In terms of audio quality, the headphones offer a “pleasing” sound signature, according to Tech Radar. Another plus is that you can change them to be wired instead of wireless, which will save a bit of battery during a long trip.
Buy it here: $134.99, Amazon
Apple AirPods 2
The latest iteration of Apple’s AirPods offers some of the most lightweight and versatile audio you can find. With voice-activated access to Siri, a wireless charging case and truly wireless connectivity, you can use these earbuds with any Apple device — making them perfect for taking calls on the go before you board a plane.
Additionally, iMore noted that these AirPods are “faster to connect and to switch between devices, and are more stable when connected” than the older model. Overall, the earbuds deliver solid sound quality, great battery life and simple connectivity that’ll be with you for the entire length of your trip. The downside is that earbuds just can’t match the comfort level of over-the-ear headphones, but with that many pluses, the trade-off might be worth it.
Buy it here: $199, Apple
Sony WI-1000X Noise Canceling Headphones
Some folks don’t like to use over-the-ear headphones because they can be bulky, but earbuds (as seen with AirPods) don’t always offer much in the way of noise canceling. Find a happy medium with the Sony WI-1000X Noise Canceling Headphones, which offer both effective noise canceling and a durable design that feels great in your ear.
These are earbuds (although they’re not totally wireless), but they’re meant to be worn behind your neck with the earbuds connected to a neckpiece. Unlike with AirPods, this means you’re unlikely to lose them while walking around or moving from place to place.
Even better, they look, feel and sound fantastic. PCMag noted that the earphones offer “excellent active noise cancellation,” with no high-frequency hiss when music is not playing. “Their audio performance is also a bit more compelling than the typical Bose sound signature,” concluded the review. As for battery life, it’s apparently about 10 hours with noise cancellation on, but 17 hours with it off.
Buy it here: $298, Amazon
Bowers & Wilkins PX Active Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones
You’re getting some exceptional sound with the Bowers & Wilkins PX Active Noise-Canceling Headphones. This high-end pair is pricey, but if you’re looking for luxury in terms of look, sound and performance, you’ll find it all here.
Digital Trends called the headphones “astonishingly good-looking,” noting that they “feel great” when worn. “They’re lightweight yet still feel solid, and the headband and ear cups are layered in memory foam covered in smooth leather,” the outlet wrote. The review also made mention of the headphones’ high-quality noise canceling options, and the impressive battery life. Under heavy use, the headphones would last about 22 hours before requiring a recharge, but “as much as 50 hours” under more regular use, according to Digital Trends.
Buy it here: $399.99, Amazon
There are a wide variety of headphones out there, but if you’re a frequent traveler, these are some of the very best choices on the market right now.