Traveling is often tiring and difficult but is also incredibly rewarding. A great pair of headphones goes a long way to making your trip more enjoyable.

So what should you look for in headphones? Let’s explore how to ensure your next incredible journey has a beautiful soundtrack to go along with it.

Comfort Is Key

Comfort is one of the most important (maybe even the most important) parts of choosing headphones for travel. You can have a fantastic pair of headphones in every other regard but, if they’re not comfortable to wear, they’ll add some extra headaches to your trip and you’ll likely find yourself not using them very much.

If you’re going for earbuds, take a look at replacing your silicon tips with memory foam tips – it makes a huge difference. If you’re going with over-ear headphones make sure the headphones don’t clamp too much on your head and that the earpads don’t sit on your ears and that they are a plush, thick material.

Earbuds vs Over Ears

This really is a personal preference. For years I advocated for over ear headphones for travel (since the noise cancelling is better, the battery lasts longer and they’re generally more comfortable). Over ear headphones are divided into two camps – closed back and open back. Closed back keeps the sound enclosed and open backs will let sound leak out. For travel, closed back headphones are the way to go – otherwise the people around you will be able to hear your audio and will be very annoyed.

If you can find a pair of earbuds with good battery life that you can wear for hours on end, they could be a good option but usually the better option is over-ear headphones.

Wireless vs Wired

This is a no-brainer – go for wireless headphones. The extra bit of sound quality from a wired pair of headphones just isn’t worth the extra hassle.

Noise Isolation vs Active Noise Cancelling

What’s the difference? Noise isolation simply means that something is physically obstructing background noise from getting to your ears. Active noise cancelling means there is a sophisticated electronic device creating negative versions of the soundwaves its speakers are picking up, effectively cancelling out the sound waves.

Active noise cancelling is generally the preferred choice here (since it will filter out loud constant sounds like air conditioners and plane engines). This is especially true for people working on the road. Whether you’re on a business call, working through some spreadsheets, or are in the content creation zone, active noise cancelling can help you keep your focus when there are myriad distractions.

Sound Quality

Generally you’ll get the best sound quality from over-ear headphones though many people do like the sound quality on some of the newer, more expensive sets of earbuds (like Powerbeats Pro and Airpods). This is a bit subjective but if you’re someone who likes deep, warm bass and a sparkling high end, generally you’ll want to go with over-ear headphones.

In Summary & Where To Learn More

Most people opt for over ear headphones for traveling since the battery is better, they’re often more comfortable for longer periods of time and sound quality is generally better as well. If you’re interested in learning more about headphones, sites like Sound Gear Lab provide in-depth knowledge about headphones and other audio based questions. Hopefully these tips have been helpful for you on your journey to find great headphones for travel.