No matter what corner of the world you visit you can always take music with you. There’s no better way of relaxing on an airplane than enjoying your favorite music in peace.
Just because you’re traveling, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some good music on the go.
In fact, since you always want to maximize your money to spend it more on seeing the world, we’ve found the best travel headphones under $100, which should fit most budgets.
Below are the best value for money headphones that are perfect for traveling. Pick the right model for your needs, pack them in a pocket and go see the world.
What To Look For In Travel Headphones?
Apart from good sound quality, what other features come in handy for a world traveler?
Sound Isolation Or Noise Cancellation
When you’re stressed out and just want to enjoy some peace and quiet, good noise isolating or cancelling headphones come very useful.
To get rid of the annoying airplane engine buzz, get a pair of noise cancelling headphones, turn them on and almost “magically” all the buzzing noise will cease to exist.
Just keep in mind that ANC (active noise cancelling) headphones need a battery that you’ll have to keep charged.
This might be a deal breaker for some who travel without much electronics or in countries where charging such devices becomes a problem.
See the page with the best noise cancelling headphones reviewed, but note that most of them cost a small fortune.
On the other hand, noise isolating headphones make a great pair of traveling equipment. You don’t need a battery or special maintenance. Just put them on and enjoy your music without being bothered by noises around you.
Keep in mind, both types of headphones leak some noise in, so don’t expect perfect silence, especially if you are in an old, crowded bus.
Portability – Put Them In a Small Pocket
Size and the ability to pack them in a small pocket on your backpack are important for any headphones you intend to use in your travels.
Most headphones are simply too big and bulky to be comfortably used when you’re a global traveler. But thankfully you have other options.
One of them is to get small earbuds or in-ear headphones that are dramatically smaller in size while still give good sound quality. They tend to be cheaper and offer good noise isolation.
The only problem you might have with them is that they tend to become uncomfortable after long use. So if you intend to use them on a long plane flight, keep in mind you will probably need to make short breaks in between.
The other option is foldable headphones that you can make compact by folding the headband which will then fit into any decently sized pocket.
The big benefit of bigger ear cups is their comfort which is best of any type of headphones.
Convenience – Is It Worth Fitting Big, Bulky Headphones In Your Backpack?
If you intend to travel with minimal baggage and you will carry all your stuff around in one backpack, then probably big headphones don’t come into play for you.
Always think beforehand about the main use of your headphones. In case you just want something comfortable on your long plane flights and you’ll carry a lot of bags with you, you can easily get big headphones like Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B for maximum comfort.
Bluetooth headphones also need a charged battery. If you are traveling in more rural, underdeveloped countries, than Bluetooth headphones are a bad idea.
There won’t be a lot of chances to charge your headphones if you find yourself in the middle of rural sub-Saharan Africa. Empty Bluetooth headphones will just become useless deadweight.
Comfort – Headphones That Won’t Irritate Your Ears After Long Hours
Comfort plays a big role. Since traveling means you will probably have to wait around a lot. If you are sitting on a bus driving across country to the new tourist attraction you need comfortable headphones.
If you tried traveling with bad headphones you probably already know how badly irritated ears feel like. Not fun at all.
The Models Of Best Travel Headphones under $100
Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B
For the best noise cancelling headphones under $100 Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B are the absolute winners.
There are no headphones that offer similar value for the same price, sure you can get Bose QuietComfort 25, but those cost three times the price at $300.
The sound is balanced and clear which is great for every music genre as long as you’re not demanding strong bass. Because of rather flat response it’s easy to listen to them and because of their noise cancelling technology they’re perfect for all noisy environments, like airplanes, buses and the trains.
Noise cancelling requires one AAA battery which gives about 40 hours of playtime. This is very useful for travel, since you can get batteries in any convenience store and just buy them in bulk. No need to bother with charging.
The ear pads are quite big and nicely padded making the headphones very comfortable even for long transcontinental flights. Foldable design makes them easier to carry around and put in your backpack, though they are still quite big since they are on-ear headphones.
For all travelers who value quiet and want to enjoy their music in comfort, this noise cancelling model is a great choice.
The popular Shure SE215 are one of the best earbuds on the market that you can get for under $100. With their great build quality and audiophile sound, they make for one of the best earbuds for travelers.
Sound quality is very high as is common with Shure models, all sound ranges are clear and detailed with bass being strong enough to make any song sound fun. If you enjoy rock, classical, dubstep or pop, these in-ears will sound great.
What makes Shure SE215 great for traveling is their small size and great durability. Because they are earbuds you can easily pack them in any small pocket so you can carry more of the other stuff you need on your adventures.
They have detachable cables that are easy to replace and together with strong, but lightweight plastics, make for one durable pair of earbuds. They come with a variety of ear tips to easily adjust to the size of your ears.
You can use these in literally all environments, they can even resist some humidity and sweat so you can take them to the hot Middle East or Asia without worrying about breaking them.
For the best all-rounder travel earbuds, these are the best choice you can make for less than $100.
Phiaton PS 210 BTNC
Phiaton is known for making great active noise cancelling headphones and the PS 210 BTNC model is one of them. If you’re looking for noise cancelling and Bluetooth earbuds, these are the best you can get for the price.
They offer good sound quality with effective noise cancellation and stable Bluetooth connection. All of this is hard to get in any other headphones for less than $100.
Noise cancelling might be a bit less effective than with Bose QuietComfort 20i, but they cost a lot less money.
Bluetooth connection works with any smartphone or Bluetooth MP3 and the battery gives up to 14 hours of playtime which is pretty decent.
As long as you have a place to charge them up these will be a great addition to your traveling equipment that you won’t go anywhere without.
In case you want to visit some of the remote and less developed countries where you might have a problem finding a power source, Bluetooth might not be the best choice.
All in all Phiaton PS 210 BTNC is one great piece of traveling equipment that’s compact enough to fit in the smallest backpack.
JBL E40BT Bluetooth
As Bluetooth, portable headphones JBL E40BT are one of the best choicest for travelers. With foldable on-ear design you can easily store them in a pocket without taking too much space.
The bass-heavy sound will be to the liking of all bassheads and if you enjoy music with strong bass these will perform amazingly well.
The good thing about these is their strong Bluetooth connection. You can easily put your smartphone on your pocket without the wireless connection breaking. This is a big problem with many other wireless headphones which is very frustrating for any regular user.
The battery is rechargeable and gives up to 16 hours of music, they aren’t noise cancelling or have particularly good noise isolation, but this is good for when you want to hear what is going on around you.
The on-ear design might not be as comfortable as over-ear, but still offers good comfort, just don’t expect to wear them for 10 hours without any irritation.
For great portable Bluetooth headphones with strong bass, don’t look any further than JBL E40BT unless you are willing to spend a small fortune.
The last headphones on this list that are great for travelers are Koss PortaPro which offer unbeatable low price and great sound quality. Just by looking at them they don’t promise much, but once you put them on you will change your mind.
It’s true they look a bit outdated, but the sound and comfort more than make up for it.
PortaPro on-ear headphones are ultra-lightweight and because of that you barely feel them on your head. The ear cushions are very soft and offer great comfort even for long hours. You can easily enjoy them for the long bus rides or plane flights without getting your ears irritated.
Build quality isn’t top notch, but considering the price this is understandable. Their foldable design is very portable, perfect for packing them in a bag or carrying around in a bigger pocket.
The noise isolation isn’t particularly good and they also don’t feature any noise cancelling technology, but you can get them very loud with pretty much any music device. Take them hiking with you and enjoy clear and rich sound.
For less than $40 you will have a hard time finding better value for money headphones that are more suitable for traveling.
If you are looking for more information on headphones, visit Headphonesaddict.com where you can find reviews of models for all occasions.
This story was brought to you in partnership with Headphones Addict.
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Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Thursday 23rd of March 2017
I got a pair of the shure earbuds and work great but they still tangle up in my pocket lol!
Monday 12th of September 2016
yeah I love ACN (active noise cancellation) headphones as well. Since upgrading to a set of Plantronic Backbeat Pros I have not looked back. Before I was using noise isolation in-the-ear which I still use for public transport and working out but it's good to have the Pros for office, travel and home use.
Monday 13th of June 2016
Good list. I prefer earbuds due to the light weight and flexibility when traveling. In the airplane, I use noise cancelling headphones, which I LOVE!
Sunday 13th of March 2016
These are pretty good headphones but would prefer v-moda or audio technica which are the very best on the market at this juncture.
Wednesday 18th of November 2015
I frankly hadn't noticed how intrusive the airplane engine noise can be until the day I bought some noise cancelling headphones. Initially I went for a noise isolation pair, because I wanted them to be small, but was slightly disppointed with their pèrformance, so I exchanged them straight away.
Although mine are foldable, they are still a little larger than I'd like them to be. But long-haul flights have never been the same since I bought them.
Thursday 19th of November 2015
Fernando - I felt the same way after I wore a pair of airline-supplied noise-cancelling headphones in business class of a Qatar flight back in 2012.
Last year, I invested in a pair of Beats Wireless Studio headphones, and they make a HUGE difference, not just in the airplanes but in the airports where it can be quite loud in the waiting areas, especially once they fill up closer to departure time. The downside is they're bulky, and uncomfortable if you want to try and fall asleep.
I flew on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time a few months ago. It was a 9-hour flight, and the engine noise was noticeably lower. I didn't feel the need to use my headphones the whole time. Unfortunately, it'll be decades before airlines replace significant numbers of planes for that to be common.