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Travel headphones: What are they and which are the best ones to invest in?

Travel headphones have become a flight necessity. Whether travelling for work or leisure, one thing you can’t escape is the inevitable noise that accompanies air travel: crying babies, toddlers with tantrums, the occasional snoring adult, and then some more. It’s no surprise why travel headphones are the perfect companion to your travels.

A good pair of travel headphones should tick off these necessary boxes: lightweight, noise-cancelling, comfortable, and wireless. They need to be lightweight because you don’t need another extra electronic item weighing you down. Besides, if they’re going to spend most of the time wrapped around your neck when unused, they need to be light. Noise-cancelling is a given — it’s essential to get a pair of travel headphones with earphone fittings that cup over your entire ear comfortably. This way, the noise-cancelling feature is at its most optimum and also comfortable.

Finally, it has to be wireless. Need we make clear? Nobody has time and energy to deal with cumbersome wires getting tangled all over the place. Wireless travel headphones will be an efficient piece of tech to use — stores easily without the need for detangling. Note that we didn’t make any mention of wireless earphones. As cute and convenient as they are, they are also at risk of getting lost when travelling. You might already have your hands full with your smartphone, passport and boarding passes — add a tiny pair of wireless earphones to the mix and you risk dropping them into the ether. In the end, wireless headphones are still the way to go.

The next step now is to know which pair of travel headphones is best suited to you. Scroll down for five of our recommendations. And when you’re almost sure of which headphones to get, why not invest in a smart luggage bag next?

1 /5

Sony WH-1000XM2

At times, you want to cancel out the noise that’s surrounding you in the airport. Yet, you want to actually be able to hear when they’re calling out for you at the boarding gate. Enter customisable noise-cancelling headphones from Sony. The WH-1000XM2 comes with an app (compatible with iOS and Android) that can be used to customise the headphone’s sound profile from the custom equaliser to room effects, sound position options, and more. That said, it’s not perfect as reviews have shown that it is a little heavier than its other travel headphone counterparts. But if you are willing to sacrifice that for a bit of handy customisation, this model is your best bet.

2 /5

Böhm B76 Wireless Headset

We must admit that the gorgeous leather colour and gold finish of this headset captures our hearts at first sight. But more than just the leather and metal aesthetics, these headphones have both the noise-cancelling and wireless features, ensuring that they fit the bill of the perfect pair of travel headphones. The battery life also lasts up to 18 hours, which means that even if you go on the world’s longest nonstop flight, you’ll be fine without needing a recharge. The earpieces can be swivelled, allowing you to store them flat.

3 /5

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Most reviews have pointed to this pair of Bose headphones as the best pair of travel headphones one could invest their money in. These over-ear headphones are extremely comfortable on the ears — liken them to ear pillows, if you must. At 235g, they’re one of the most lightweight headphones out there. They’re also engineered with “world class noise-cancellation” and have direct access to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control on-the-go. Naturally, the sound quality is amazing with plenty of bass to boot.

4 /5

Cowin E7 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphone

Amazon’s best selling travel headphones can’t go wrong. And the Cowin E7 headphones delivers its promise: 30 hours of battery life, quick charging, active noise cancelling technology, wireless, and lightweight. The ear cup pads are also extremely soft with an added soft padded inner lining for extra comfort and better fit.

5 /5

Sennheiser PXC 550

For those with a smaller head, this Sennheiser PXC 550 will be a better fit. You can also fold it up to be packed away without the bulk in your carry-on bag. Adding on to the tech is a control gesture feature via the touchpad on the right earpiece — this means you can adjust the volume or switch between songs with just the swipe of a finger. A two-finger tap on the earpiece and you can pause the music, which comes in handy when someone important is talking to you — like the flight attendant.

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.