The Best Earplugs for Travel, Sleep, and More

Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs took the top spot on our list.

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Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

One of the most challenging aspects of traveling is getting enough sleep — let alone enough high-quality sleep. Between long flights, airport transfers, foreign beds, and jet lag, you likely aren't getting your recommended seven to nine hours. And if you're a very light sleeper by nature, even a short nap is out of the question when you are surrounded by dozens of strangers (and a screaming baby or two) on a plane. Luckily, there are several styles of earplugs available to block out loud noises, wherever you happen to be.

We think Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs are the best option on the market thanks to their simplicity, effectiveness, and overall comfort — not to mention the fact that they actually stay in your ears. But if you have something waterproof or more moldable in mind, keep reading. Our list features the best earplugs in a variety of categories.

T+L's Top Picks

Best Overall: Mack's Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why We Love It: They insert into the ear with ease and never feel uncomfortable, even once fully expanded.

What to Consider: They only last two or three uses before becoming ineffective.

It's hard to pinpoint just one reason why these earplugs from Mack's consistently come out on top. They're soft, comfortable, and totally discreet thanks to their neutral color (unlike many others that come in bright hues). The plugs are also made with low pressure, slow-release foam that gently conforms to the ear shape without causing stretching or soreness. We love that they're effective for everything from concerts to studying, but also cushy enough — and safe enough — to wear while sleeping. They even boast the highest available noise reduction rating (NRR), which is 33. With 50 pairs in each bottle, this $9 purchase is sure to last you several months at least.

Material: Polyurethane foam | Pack Sizes: 2 options | NRR: 33

Best Overall, Runner-up: Flents Quiet Contour Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why We Love It: They come with their own carrying case.

What to Consider: They're very long and may stick out of smaller ears.

If you're looking for an affordable, no-frills option, try these soft foam earplugs from Flents. They're specifically designed for sleeping, so they'll block out snoring, television sounds, and other loud noises. Their unique shape makes them easy to insert into the ear and effectively stay in place, while ultra-light foam keeps things comfortable. They are quite bright, which can be either good for letting people know you can't hear them or bad if you're aiming for subtlety.

Material: Moldex foam | Pack Sizes: 2 options | NRR: 33

Best for Flying: EarPlanes Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Target

Why We Love It: They'll keep your ears pain-free, even when changing altitudes on a flight.

What to Consider: They can be a bit irritating for those with smaller ears.

These popular earplugs are designed to be worn while on a plane and are great for helping you sleep while you're in the air. They're made of soft hypoallergenic silicone to provide maximum comfort even if you are a side sleeper. Some of their most useful features are the unique shape of the earplugs and their CeramX filters, which prevent ear pain from pressure during takeoff and landing. The brand even says that these earplugs have been tested by US Navy pilots, so you know they'll get the job done.

Material: Silicone | Pack Sizes: 4 options | NRR: 20

Related: These Travel Accessories Make Sleeping on Planes Way Easier

Best for Sleep: Flents Quiet Time Foam Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: They are designed with noise-blocking as priority number one.

What to Consider: They can be slightly uncomfortable for side sleepers.

You'll wake up well rested even in the noisiest of environments thanks to these hypoallergenic, super-soft foam earplugs with the highest-possible NRR. They're easy to insert and remove, and they work just as well on a plane as they do in the comfort of your bedroom. A soft, moldex foam construction makes them so comfy and noise-canceling, you can wear them in environments as loud as concerts or construction work.

Material: Moldex foam | Pack Sizes: 2 options | NRR: 33

Best Moldable: Decibullz Custom Molded Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why We Love It: They're custom fitted for you, and you can remold them as many times as you need.

What to Consider: They are, by far, the most expensive option on our list.

If foam earplugs don't feel comfortable to you, then try out these heavy-duty silicone ones for a snug fit. Just heat them up in hot water, mold them to the contour of your ear, and insert them. A special sound plug then connects to the molded piece, which prevents noise from entering your ear. And because they're custom fitted for you personally, they'll stay in place wonderfully, even on a turbulent plane ride. If they don't fit perfectly the first time, you can simply reheat them and then mold them again — just be sure they fit your ears before leaving for the airport, as they can't be remolded without hot water.

Material: Thermoplastic | Pack Sizes: 1 | NRR: 31

Best Contoured: Howard Leight Laser Lite Uncorded Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Staples

Why We Love It: Their ear-like shape keeps them comfy and secure in your ear.

What to Consider: Each pair only lasts one or two uses.

Fall asleep easily in-flight with these small, T-shaped earplugs that are simple to insert and remove — even if you have smaller ears. They come individually packaged and are made from low-pressure, smooth, soil-resistant foam that expands once you insert the earplugs into your ears. Thanks to their unique, ear-like shape, they fit better than the average foam earplug, and almost as well as custom-fit earplugs. We also love their bright red and yellow design, which makes it easier to see and keep track of them.

Material: Polyurethane foam | Pack Sizes: 2 options | NRR: 32

Related: Shoppers Say This Hand-held White Noise Machine Is a 'Lifesaver' While Traveling

Best for Swimming: Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why We Love It: They're just as helpful in keeping swimmer's ear at bay as they are at muffling noise.

What to Consider: They're pretty sticky, so they tend to attract hair and dirt.

These multifunctional, waterproof earplugs are great for sleeping, swimming, riding airplanes, and attending concerts. They are made from putty-like silicone that can be molded to your specific ear shape, which allows them to easily stay put in your ear. The airtight silicone is also effective in keeping water and loud sounds from sneaking into your ear. To top things off, the earplugs are reusable many times over.

Material: Silicone | Pack Sizes: 1 option | NRR: 22

Best Corded: 3M Reusable Corded Earplugs

Ear Plugs
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Walmart

Why We Love It: They're comfy and virtually impossible to lose.

What to Consider: They don't work well for those with smaller ears.

Corded earplugs are ideal for people who always seem to lose one earplug from a pair. Not to mention, it's quite convenient to keep them around your neck when they're not in use. These ones by 3M are made from a three-tiered soft material for a super snug fit and excellent noise reduction. They also come with a compact carrying case so you can keep them clean when put away.

Material: Polyurethane | Pack Sizes: 4 options | NRR: 25

Related: How to Get Restful Sleep on a Plane

Tips For Buying Earplugs

Look for Comfort

Whether you plan to sleep, travel, swim, or head to a loud event with your earplugs, you'll never enjoy yourself — or keep them in your ears for very long — if they hurt to wear. That said, try out a few different pairs of earplugs before your trip or event to ensure comfort when it counts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are earplugs safe?

For the most part, earplugs used correctly are completely safe, and the National Institutes of Health even lists them as recommended hearing protectors. However, wearing them too often can put you at risk for a buildup of earwax, which itself can lead to other complications.

Are earplugs reusable?

Many are reusable, but some are designed for one-time use. The packaging your earplugs come in usually states whether your earplugs are reusable or not.

What type of earplug is best?

If your reason for using earplugs is to block out sound, foam earplugs are your best bet. We recommend using these for sleeping and traveling. Looking for earplugs to swim in? Go for silicone, wax, or putty plugs. They allow a bit of sound to pass through, but water is unable to penetrate these materials.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

When it comes to traveling in comfort and convenience, you can consider Travel + Leisure writers experts. From turbulent flights to lost luggage, we've experienced (and overcome) it all. For this article, Hillary Maglin used personal experience and customer reviews to compile a list of the best noise-blocking earplugs for travel, sleep, swimming, and more.

Up Next: The Best Travel Pillows for Every Type of Seat Sleeper

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