Ear plugs – a simple alternative to headphones.
Is there really more than one sound of silence? Not really. At least not on a plane. Despite what the chorus of headphone advertising would have us believe there is little that truly erases the gnarled hocking and sniffing (famous on flights in Asia), raucous and shrill squeaks of holiday anticipation (hello Virgin Airlines), lecturous drone of seat belt compliance, presumptive arrogance of a G&T fuelled passenger who’s turned his voice dial to ten, or the anguished cry of bubs hurtling through the sky at 569 miles per hour.
I previously wrote about noise cancelling headphones but of course these are not your only option. A basic set of 3M ear plugs can do the job. Getting you to sleep on a plane, or just to block out those offensive noises.
Most expensive ear plugs are probably unnecessary.
Contrary to my other recommendations I struggle to differentiate between cheap and expensive when it comes to ear plugs. They all seem to muffle or dull sounds and the fit remains pretty similar.
I will often break them out for a short kip. They are normally quite comfortable, don’t bother me whilst sleeping, and do block out noise. I have tried many different types including these ear plugs, the 3M Earsoft Ear Plugs which operate well (these ones are also recommended by Tim Ferriss).
As you put them in your ear after rolling them between your fingers into a thin tube I often think an expanding spray foam would be better. You know like the ones used to fill cracks in the walls of your home? That would seal those pesky paths for sound to get in. Might need to come up with some Post-It Note style solution that meant it would only stick whilst you want it to. 3M?
UPDATE. I’ve recently come across Mack’s Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs These ear plugs are designed for swimming and operate pretty much as the crack filler idea above.