The Ultimate Christmas Gift for a Traveller

Long haul night flight

Over the past year, I’ve been thinking about the worst things about travelling. The little irritations and the big, difficult parts of any trip. Long haul flights, train travel and sometimes staying in cities can leave you tired, drained and annoyed. I’ve come up with a solution to my biggest problem and I think it could make a fantastic Christmas gift for a traveller.

I’ve narrowed this down to what exactly drives me mad and the answer I’ve come up with is noise. People talking, babies crying and even that white noise of airplane engines or train tracks can drive me up the wall. Occasionally, it really doesn’t bother me. I can sail through the day enjoying the sound of kids and people chewing loudly (ok, never that one!) However, if I have been travelling for over 6/7 hours on flights, overnight, jetlagged and I’m not halfway to my destination, you better believe I will need some help to stay sane.

This is where my magical suggestion comes in. It really has helped me over my last few trips and is even a great idea for noisy offices or public transport commutes to work. The solution is noise cancelling headphones.

I bought a cheapish pair after trying out a friends headphones and it is a game changer for me. I used to feel groggy and had headaches from long haul travel but this makes a big difference. It also allows me to be less irritated in confined spaces with other travellers which feels better too. You just put them on and drown out the background noise.

Here are my reviews of some of the best noise cancelling and noise minimising headphones on the market (apologies for some of the terrible photos of me on night flights!)

Sony MDR ZX110NA 

Price – £45

My verdict – Great budget pair of noise cancelling headphones. Anyone could use these and they are adjustable and easily folded away. Padded earpieces sit on your ears and are comfortable. Not too big and good for carry on baggage. The only downside to this pair was the wire. Not a big issue but wireless headphones with Bluetooth are fantastic. For the price, I wouldn’t expect that level and you get a great piece of tech anyway. A solid effort from Sony!

Score – 4 out of 5

Buy at this link

Sony headphones on flight

Sony headphones


Sony noise cancelling headphones

Sony headphones from the side


Sony headphones in the package

Plantronics Backbeat Pro

Price – £155

My Verdict – Wireless and Bluetooth compatible is the future! This pair were great to wear on the go. My only slight issue was the size. At full size, they are bigger than all of the other headphones I tested with large earpieces. They are very comfortable with padding on your ears and across the headband. The sound was crisp and you can adjust the volume and switch tracks on the earpieces. Easy to set up with your device and adjustable size. A good value option for wireless, full size, over-ear headphones.

Score – 4 out of 5

Buy at this link

Flight one with Plantronics headphones

Flight one with Plantronics headphones


From the side

From the side


Plantronics in the package

Ghostek Turbine In-Ear

Price – £29.99

My Verdict – I wanted to try a couple of in-ear noise limiting headphones. I have a couple of friends who don’t like big, on-ear or over-ear headphones and they are not for everyone. When I go running, at the gym or on a public transport commute, I generally use in ear pieces. I chose a budget pair and a more expensive pair (further down). These are wired and very easy to use. They are plug in and go type of headphones. The noise limiting side was ok, the silicone tips do keep some background noise out but less than the others I tested. If you’re looking for a good pair of cheaper headphones, go for these ones.

Score – 3 out of 5

Buy at this link

Flight two - Ghostek earbud headphones

Flight two – Ghostek earbud headphones


Ghostek earbud headphones from the side

Ghostek earbud headphones from the side


Ghostek Turbine headphones in the package

Bose Quiet Comfort 35

Price – £280

My Verdict – You get what you pay for and these are at the top. I loved this pair of headphones. Every part was luxury from the padding to the noise cancelling excellence and the wireless Bluetooth features. I liked the shape of the earpieces and how easy it was to set up. There was a detachable wire that you could plug in to your flight entertainment. They weren’t too big and very easy to store in the case. Great for carry on luggage and a firm favourite for me. If only they were a bit cheaper, I would buy as a Christmas gift for all the family! An indulgence but you will be hard pushed to find better.

Score – 5 out of 5 

Buy at this link

Bose headphones

Bose headphones


Bose headphones from side

Bose headphones from side


Bose Quiet Comfort 35 in the case

Powerbeats2 Wired In-Ear Headphones

Price – £120

My Verdict – I will use these in future when running or at the gym. The fit is great and very secure. They do limit the noise and have a great sound with enhanced base. The wire is adjustable and there is a remote talk feature on the cable. Easy to store in their case and perfect for carry on luggage. A brilliant pair of in-ear noise limiting earphones.

Score – 4 out of 5

Buy at this link

Power Beats 2 headphones

Power Beats 2 headphones


Noise limiting headphones

Power Beats 2 from the side


Power Beats 2 in the package

Do you own a pair of noise cancelling headphones you use for travel? What was your verdict of any on my list?

A huge thank you to the companies involved in giving/loaning me headphones for this review. My views are absolutely my own and this did not affect how I scored anything in the post.

Prices correct at time of publishing.


  • Excellent idea, I am forever on the search for the perfect pair of headphones!

  • Love it! Testing headphones in flight. There are dozens more, perhaps, and you should get the project to test them all. And fly!

  • Oohhhh! My favorite is the Powerbeats2! As a traveler and a music lover, i will definitely share this list to my fiancé ?

  • Laura Lynch says:

    I completely agree about the noise of travels. There are always kids screaming or other crazy noises and it can be really overwhelming when you’re jetlagged or just really tired from lots of travel. I’d try the ghosttek ones definitely. I’ve never liked the large over ear ones because they’re too big and bulky, and can make the outer earlobe sore after a time.

  • Supriya says:

    I actually possess a pair of beats solo headphones but I only end up using my regular Apple earphones over commutes. The Bose ones do look and sound amazing! This is such a useful list for anyone looking to genuinely buy good headphones 🙂

  • hcura says:

    Super useful! I’m probably looking to gift ones this year.

    I must say that Plantronics is really solid brand. I bought ones 12 years ago that still work perfectly!

  • You’re so right. I hate hearing other people’s conversations, not to mention babies crying, so investing in a good set of noise canceling headphones is a great idea!

  • This review came just in time. Looking to gift my top contributor a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Great list, thinking of the Bose…

  • authenticfoodquest says:

    You are right, headphones are absolutely critical for long-haul flights…or any flights for that matter. I don’t have noise cancelling ones, but I am still able to drown out the noise! Will look more into the Bose headphones 🙂

  • Great list thanks for sharing

  • I have Bose noise cancelling headphones and I really like them. The ones that go in your ears are smaller and more convenient for travel, but they hurt my ears after a while.

  • I’m always looking to lower my weight and items when traveling so no, I don’t own headphones. I’m one of those who travel with silicone earplugs and an eye mask. That keeps me comfy and I can spend money (and weight) on other items!

  • These are great! Headphones are practically a necessity for a traveler with all the transport required! It’s the WORST if you lose yours. I need better ones for the plane rides, going to check these out!

  • This is great timing because I was just looking to invest in some good headphones. I travel from NZ to the UK a lot and get so sick of the constant airplane noise!

  • Unwelcome noise in any location is annoying as hell. You’ve got some great suggestions here. If I’m not listening to music or podcasts on planes with my Sudio wireless headphones, I swear by good old-fashioned ear plugs!

  • I have a pair of the Bose and they are one of my favorite things I own! They might be expensive but so worth the investment and an amazing gift!

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