Just like your favorite hats, shoes, or purses, earphones are also travel accessories (of the technological ilk), with different versions serving you better as various travel situations arise. Each of the seven earphone selections we’ve rounded up below are innovative, iconic, and unique, and chances are that once you’ve read up on them, you won’t want to leave home without them on your next trip.
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1. Aftershokz Ears Open Bone Conduction Headphones
These earphones don’t go in your ears, but near them: They’re actually able to transmit the sound through your cheekbones. Why go this route? Two reasons: Firstly (like with the dBLogic earphones mentioned above), you won’t damage your hearing. And secondly, you’ll be able to enjoy music while hiking, biking, or jogging—potentially in unfamiliar territory, as you travel—without worrying about missing any important ambient warning noises that might indicate danger and otherwise be blocked out by regular earphones.
Expert Tip: They’re quite stable, so you don’t have to worry about them popping off during heavy activity.
How Much: $66.90
Buy Them: Visit Barnes & Noble.
2. JayBird Gear Freedom
Even if you’re not training for a triathlon, these athlete-primed earphones are nice and light, and comfortable and rugged enough for everyday use. They provide each ear with three tip sizes, as well as three silicon stabilizing cushion sizes, ensuring that you’ll likely find a configuration that fits well. And although they’re tethered to each other by a short, rubber, linguini-like band, they’re wireless to your music player. So time-wasting tangles and unexpected yank-outs are a non-issue. But they also have controls right on them, so you can pause, play, and change tracks on the go, without having to fumble for the player itself.
Expert Tip: Because they’re Bluetooth, you can also take (or better yet while on vacation, ignore) phone calls, again without having to take your phone out of your pocket.
How Much: $99
Buy Them: Visit JayBird Gear.
3. Zipbuds Juiced
Using zipper technology, these novel buds not only look unique, but offer an ingenious way to defeat the tangled wire monster. In addition to their effective blend of style and durability, they also fit well and produce a nice, full sound. In other words, they’re not just a "wish I’d thought of that" gimmick that skimps on the audio quality.
Expert Tip: Even before they officially launch, we’re giving away a pair! (For a chance to win this prize, enter the contest below.)
How Much: $19.99
Buy Them: Visit Zipbuds, coming this spring.
4. dBLogic EP-100
Don’t worry about cranking up the volume because these ear-friendly earphones automatically control sound pressure levels, allowing the listener to avoid any potential auditory damage. But that doesn’t mean your music will sound muffled: They deliver full, great-sounding, distortion-free music—just at a safe, comfortable volume.
Expert Tip:The dBLogic EP-100s come with a great little circular carrying case, perfect for travel.
How Much: $34.95
Buy Them: Visit dBLogic’s storefront.
5. House of Marley People Get Ready In-Ear Headphones
From the recycled packaging to the wooden buds to the colorful anti-tangle fabric cord, these eye-catching earphones are thoughtfully designed with earth-conscious materials. But make no mistake, these eco-friendly earphones pump out fantastic sound. In fact, even when you’re not grooving out to reggae, their rich bass is sure to have you jammin’.
Expert Tip: We’re giving away a pair of these, too! (For a chance to win this prize, enter the contest below.)
How Much: $39.99
Buy Them: Visit House of Marley.
6. Sleek Audio SA1
These award-winning earphones offer amazing quality and flexibility for their price point. Not only can you choose the tuning configuration that works for each ear, but in keeping with the customization theme, they also offer multiple ear tips and wearing styles. So these carefully crafted earphones can adapt to meet your ever-changing musical moods, as you find yourself in new locations.
Expert Tip: The buds are detachable from their wire and can be made wireless with an optional accessory ($169).
How Much: $79.99
Buy Them: Visit Sleek-Audio.com.
7. Vdera Sharkfin Self-Molding Earbud
Although all of the earphones mentioned here give you a few comfortable options for sporting them, only the Sharkfin can offer a perfect fit for your ear—and for less than ten bucks! The gray putty goes around your existing earbuds and hardens to the exact shape of your ear (it’s a quick and painless process, so long as you follow the directions precisely). And, of course, even though ambient sound will be shut out, the inner sound will only be as good as the earphones you choose to use.
Expert Tip: This moldable material is sweat-, water-, and UV-resistant, so they’re great for use at the hotel gym, on the beach, or in transit.
How Much: $8.59
Buy Them: Visit Vdera and other retail partners.
Enter to win a pair of earphones from Zipbuds or House of Marley!
Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds, and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo Credits: courtesy 1. VOXLINC, LLC; 2. JayBird; 3. Zipbuds, LLC; 4. Weinberg-Clark Photography; 5. The House of Marley, LLC; 6. Sleek Audio Inc.; 7. Vdera Inc.