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Best headphones for travelling

There is no doubt that anyone travelling needs to compliment the trip with decent headphones – all the better to have in-ear monitor earphones or earphones. They do a few things to make any trip better:

The best headphones:

  • make it more romantic/exciting – that internal buzz you get taking off when your favourite song is playing. Or the emotion that is evoked thinking of that special person you have left behind or are travelling to.
  • make it less boring – sitting at the gate, in the lounge or on a plane waiting to take off is pretty boring. Music/Audio Books helps.
  • make it less annoying – you don’t have to listen to others on the plane you would rather not listen to e.g. Chatty Kathy/Kids/Boisterous Bob etc.
  • make movies so much better – the right earphones make even nasty airline audio sound great when you’re watching movies.
  • make things still and quiet – good sound-isolation or noise-cancelling makes all the difference hands-down. You arrive feeling less irritated, more relaxed and more rested.

If you’re anything like most people you’ve spent most of your life thinking that the Bose noise-cancelling headphones were the only choice when choosing headphones for travel. Even when all the other headphone manufacturers came out with their challengers there always seemed to be only one winner, Bose. We have owned the Audio Technica ANC-7’s and the Bose QC15 for travelling and have found both to be great. They help shut the world out, are comfortable but we have always found while they sound good, they don’t sound great.


The good news is in the US you can now use headphones and earphones during taking off and landing. In Canada, you can use earphones (earbuds) but not headphones during take-off and landing, and you are supposed to have the earphones plugged into the aeroplane audio system. This has caused a lot of people to start seeking out the best earphones for travel, something they can wear for taking off and leave in, or on for the entire flight without suffering ear and hearing fatigue. 

Some of the benefits of in-ear-monitor earphones:

  • They block out sound while making music beautiful. 
  • They don’t require batteries to work – never run flat. 
  • They are super portable – fit in your pocket, laptop case, jacket pocket.
  • You can wear them all the time – no need to take them out.
  • They come with compact protective carry-cases (nearly all do) – portable and protected.

We’ve lined the best earphones (earbuds) for travel below and think you’ll find we have a set for every budget and every sound preference. We’ve listed these by airline class, just for fun – but it doesn’t mean you can’t go first class with your earphones and travel economy on seat selection, we do!

Best Earphones for Travel

Economy (Coach) earphones – Under $200

  1. Shure SE112
  2. Shure SE215 (Read our SE215 Review)
  3. Westone W10 (Read our W10 Review)

Premium Economy earphones – Under $500

  1. Shure SE315
  2. Westone UM Pro 30 (Read our UM Pro 30 Review)
  3. Shure SE535

Business Class earphones – Under $650

  1. Shure SE535 Ltd (Read our Shure SE535 Ltd Review)
  2. Westone W40 (Read our Westone W40 review)
  3. Westone UM Pro 50 (Read our Westone UM Pro 50 Review)

First Class earphones – Under $1100

  1. Westone W60 (Read our Westone W60 Review)
  2. Sennheiser IE 800 (Read our IE 800 Review)
  3. Shure SE846

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