Traveling, that's seeking new adventures, meeting new cultures and people. It's a time to relax and enjoy some time off. But traveling can also be exhausting. And when you're tired, silence is something you can really appreciate. A pair of earplugs helps you find this peace and quiet. Whether that's on the plane, at night in your hotel room or when you're out exploring.
It doesn't really matter where you're going, earplugs come in handy no matter your destination. And there's always room for them - even if you're flying with Ryanair.
But what type of earplug should you pack for traveling? It all depends on what you'll be using them for.
Prepare for take-off: Earplugs for flying
You've definitely experienced this before: the unpleasant pressure in your ears when an airplane takes off or lands. This is caused by the imbalance in the air pressure in your middle ear and air pressure in the environment, which prevents your eardrum from vibrating as it should. A common trick to reduce this pressure is chewing gum or sucking on candy. By yawning and swallowing, you activate the muscles that open your eustachian tubes making the pressures slowly fade away.
Some people, however, are more sensitive to this pressure and chewing won't always do the trick. An earplug, in that case, is more effective as it slowly equalizes the pressure against your eardrum during ascents and descents.
Aside from the take-off and landing, earplugs can come in quite handy the entire flight. Imagine being stuck on an airplane for 8 hours with a newborn on your right and an overly social passenger on the left. We'll let you decide which one is more annoying.
Foam earplugs are sometimes handed out for free on flights and while they do a great job at blocking sound they're anything but comfortable to wear for multiple hours. Plus, keep in mind that you won't be able to have a conversation with your neighbor or a steward without having to take them out.
Investing a quality earplug that has a more comfortable fit will be worth the investment. Especially if you like to pass the time while sleeping on the plane. The features for a comfortable earplug for traveling? Coming right up, down below!
Sleep like you're at home: Earplugs for sleeping
Sleep is anything but the sexiest or most fun part of traveling. It is, however, essential to have a good night of sleep and start each day well-rested. If you're a light sleeper or uncomfortable sleeping in new environments, even the lightest sounds can wake you up. It's not for nothing that noise disturbance remains in the top three of hotel complaints. An earplug will help you sleep through the night without being woken up by slamming doors, noisy neighbors or a loud air conditioning.
The most important feature of an earplug for sleeping is comfort. You're wearing them for multiple hours so they have to fit your ears and should not irritate your skin or interfere with your pillow (in case you like to sleep on your side).
The rules of a comfortable earplug for traveling
Every ear is unique, so there is not one specific earplug that fits everyone. Some earplugs are more comfortable than others. But the comfortable ones have a few things in common:
- Personal fit
- Doesn't irritate your skin
- Doesn't stick out (so it won't interfere with your pillow)
- Stays put
The comfort level of an earplug is often determined by the ear tip. This is the part of the earplug that sits directly into your ear canal. And while many earplug brands have a universal fit, more and more brands offer multiple ear tips with their earplugs. These come in multiple sizes and materials. At Loop, we offer six different pairs of ear tips: memory foam and soft silicone ear tips in small, medium and large.
By choosing the ear tip that matches the size of your ears, you don't only improve the earplugs level of comfort but also the earplug's sound reduction. That's because when you wear the correct size, your ear canal is shut off completely. All sound that enters it, has to pass through the earplug. Which makes it not only safer to wear but also makes it sound better. But we'll get to that in just a minute.
If you like sleeping on your side, one thing you should definitely check is the shape of an earplug and how it sits in your ear. Many earplugs (for example foam and universal earplugs) partially stick out of your ear. This can interfere with your pillow and cause irritation. Plus, it might move the earplug out of place and even fall out. The solution? An earplug that sits entirely in your ear shell, like Loop. Its round shape doesn't stick out, sits in your ear and the shape helps the earplug stay in place.
Exploring your destination: High-fidelity Earplugs
When traveling, you discover all these amazing places. Among those could be loud environments like a busy city center, fun bars, amazing night clubs. At a certain point, you may want to reduce the sound around you - but you'll still want to be able to hear things clearly. Whether that's a conversation with your fellow travelers, understanding your tour guide or enjoy music without distortion.
Especially when you go out or attend music events a good sounding earplug is must-have when traveling. The music level at most venues around the worlds tends to be really loud - especially when traveling to Asia. A high-fidelity earplug brings back sound to a safe and enjoyable level without distorting it.
To make sure an earplug distorts sound as little as possible, you'll have to check its attenuation curve. This represents the earplug's sound reduction across all frequencies (different levels of volume). Find yourself an earplug with an equal attenuation over the entire hearing spectrum. An equal attenuation across all frequencies will result in a natural sounding experience without distortion, as you'll see in the example below.
The best example for the uneven attenuation curve on the right would be foam earplugs. They block out sound because they completely close off your ear canal, which has a very important function to make music sound natural. Your ear canal normally acts as a natural resonator, boosting and lowering certain frequencies. But when you block out your ear canal, you lose this function. To counter this undesired side effect, earplugs must have a resonance chamber.
There are different ways to include a resonance chamber in an earplug. At Loop, we went for an innovative approach and designed a hollow acoustic channel that acts as a resonance chamber. Sound waves enter via a small opening and travel through the hollow channel on the inside of Loop. This acoustic resonator has the same length as your ear canal and mimics its function, with a natural sound experience as a result.
The all-around earplug for traveling
Earplugs don't weigh much but that doesn't mean it's convenient to pack a different pair for each of the above situations. In order for an earplug to fit multiple situations, look for these features:
- A good fit reduces the pressure in your ears when you're traveling by plane
- Enough sound reduction so you can sleep like an angel both on the plane as well as in your hostel or hotel
- Multiple ear tips so they're comfortable for hours
- An even attenuation curve if sound quality matters to you and you like to go out to events, bars or clubs
If you're looking for an earplug that fits all travel purposes above, Loop could be the one to pack!
Comfort: With six different pairs of ear tips you'll be sure to have the most personal fit possible. Improving both the level of protection the earplug offers and its sound quality. Loop's round shape doesn't stick out so it won't interfere with your pillow - both on the plane as in your hotel. And it also helps the earplug to stay in place. Plus it will help with the unpleasant pressure in your ears when flying.
Sound Quality: Loop's combination of a round acoustic channel and filter makes sure both music and speech remain clear - just less loud. Which is convenient when you're exploring a city with heavy traffic or you like to go out when traveling.
Looks: An added bonus we did not discuss yet are looks. You may not believe this, but earplugs can look good. Instead of ruining your outfit, they could become a nice extra to it. Because come on, who doesn't when to look good on vacation? Loop has an elegant round shape that can either be discrete (and hardly noticeable) or stand out. It all depends on the color you choose. Loop comes in five different colors from Midnight Black to Glorious Gold.