Best Portable Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel

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If you travel a lot, then you know having some of the best portable speakers can make the trip even better. Speakers for travelling keep getting smaller and the audio quality keeps getting better. What are the best travel speakers today? And what do the best Bluetooth speakers for travel have in common?

Best Portable Speakers for Travel COVER

Best Portable Speakers for Travel

Traveling with music has changed a lot since I was a grungy backpacker in the late ’90s. No more Walkmans, Discmans, and portable MD players. Today, the best Bluetooth travel speakers deliver incredible sound. We left for slow travel in 2013 with one wireless speaker. When we settled in Japan again six years later, we had four. Why? Well, as the kids grew older, they wanted to have their own travel speakers in hotels and apartment rentals. Of course, we use headphones in most situations, but it’s also great to have some wireless travel speakers when you want to listen to something together. Below I break down what to look for in the best Bluetooth speakers for travel, and then detail the best Bluetooth speakers under 200, 100 and 50 dollars. 

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Speakers for Travelling by Category

There are lots of great speakers for travelling, so I’ve divided up our top wireless speaker picks into multiple categories. Click straight to one here if you’re looking for something specific.

  • Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 200 Dollars
  • The Best Wireless Speakers Under 100 Dollars
  • Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 50 Dollars
  • Top Overall Bluetooth Speaker
  • Best Bluetooth Speakers for Bass
  • Suggested Bluetooth Speakers for Car Travel
  • Best Bluetooth Speakers for the Beach/Pool
  • Best Bluetooth Speakers for Camping

Why Carry Travel Speakers?

I know, I know. Everyone talks about packing light, and we are advocates of taking only what you need. So do you really need a portable Bluetooth speaker? That’s something you must decide for yourself. For us? We now carry four from country to country, but then usually just bring one when we explore a new place for a few weeks. Could we live without them? Of course. But we get so much use out of them. Keep in mind that we travel (slowly) with everything we owned for six years.

When we were lived in Malaysia, we had two of them: the original one we brought with us, and then my sis gave us a second one for Christmas. Then when we moved to Spain, the boy wanted one of his own for his room. Hello, birthday present! Then we wanted something small for music in the shower. We have no other stereo system — just some of the best Bluetooth speakers sitting in different rooms of our apartment.

More Than Just Music

Sure, it’s nice to have your favorite tunes for the hotel, guesthouse or apartment rental. Then again, the best Bluetooth speakers for travel are much more than that. We love having access to Vivaldi and James Brown on the road, but our Bluetooth speakers give our family much more than music.

Audiobooks, Podcasts & News

We listen to a lot of spoken word on the road. As for audiobooks, we listened to the Odessey in Kuala Lumpur and The Golden Compass at the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed The Trials of Apollo in Northern Spain, and the Kane Chronicles in the Canary Islands. We’ve used Bluetooth speakers in the car on road trips as well as over breakfast in apartment rentals. Then there are podcasts and news broadcasts. Both can be a way to keep up with current events or to keep a connection to home. 

Boost Your TV Audio

Not all televisions are created equal. More than once, our budget apartment rental had a TV, but the audio output was meager. When this happens, we hook up a Bluetooth speaker and suddenly the sound is much better. We’ve done this for sporting events occasionally (my son is a huge soccer fan), but mostly for movie rentals. And now there are pairs of travel speakers that can give you stereo sound.

Car Radio

Let’s face it: radio sucks in many places in the world. That said, we always scan the airwaves for something interesting at least once. We would have never fallen in love with raaga music in Penang without scanning the dial. For the rest of the time, we prefer our supplying own audio. That’s when we pull out the Bluetooth speaker.

What to Look For in the Best Travel Speakers

What should you look for in speakers for travelling? Here are a few of the best features and aspects of good travel speakers to consider.

Volume & Sound Quality

You don’t have to be an audiophile to appreciate good sound. Many of today’s best Bluetooth speakers sound better than the boomboxes of yore, and the best portable speakers can fill a room better now than ever. When it comes to the sound quality of the best speakers for travelling, the volume is only one consideration. Think about what you’ll use your portable speaker for and buy accordingly.

For example, two of our travel speakers serve different roles over the years. One is a great portable speaker for bass. It has a great woofer for the price and has a great thump when listening to music with a beat. We use it when we get down, or just boogie while cooking dinner. In contrast, our other main portable speaker has a great high end. The bass is decent, but this speaker is better for the spoken word. 

Battery Life

No Bluetooth speakers for travel are worth anything if they run out of juice quickly. The best portable speakers for travelling have long battery life. You’ll need that because you’ll be moving around and may not know where you’ll encounter the next power outlet. Are you camping or on a road trip? Do you plan to listen to your portable speaker outdoors a lot? Or in a car? Then definitely prioritize battery life, and make sure you have a way to charge it in a car. Old cars don’t have a USB plug.

Recharge time is also a factor for even the best Bluetooth speakers, but not as big an issue for us. We’re usually in one place long enough to let something charge overnight. However, we suggest that you underestimate battery life and understand that battery life depends on usage. High volume drains a battery fast. Recharge cycles affect battery life too. Always make sure to properly calibrate your Bluetooth speaker battery right after you buy it. Fill the battery, then play it until it’s drained or indicated it’s time to charge. Charge it fully, then drain it again at least once.

Wireless Range & Connectivity

The best Bluetooth speakers for travel connect wirelessly to your computers or smart devices. However, they still need to stay within a certain distance to pick up the signal. For example, let’s say I’m listening to music while cooking breakfast. If I walk out of the room with the phone to wake the kids, then the speaker will start to cut out or go quiet until I return. The best portable speakers for travelling have a long wireless range and still play clearly even if your device is further away. Just don’t expect it to connect through thick walls.

Water, Dust, & Shock Resistance

This is an especially important feature for best speakers for travel: durability. The best portable speakers will be at least splash-proof and fairly rugged. The very best portable speakers are fully waterproof and have a drop-range of a meter or more. One of the standards to look for is IPX7. If a device has this rating, it means that it can be submerged in water up to a meter deep and for up to 30 minutes. I’m not suggesting that you test it out on your new device. Even so, it’s nice to know, especially if you spend a lot of time at the pool. If you’re traveling with one of the best portable speakers, then you can leave it near the sink or the pool and you have less risk of frying the circuitry. You can hand it to your kids without fear of a slight bump ruining it.

Other Features of Top Travel Speakers

The best portable speakers for travel will tick all the boxes above. But some may have additional features that you may be interested in. For example, some have a built-in wire to connect devices. Others may have a power pack to charge phones. Do you make a lot of phone calls? Many wireless speakers also have voice dialing and voice calling features. Not as important to us, but maybe more important for you.

Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 200 Dollars

There are great portable speakers in every price range, but if you’re willing to spend a little more then the level of durability and sound quality goes way up. Here are the best Bluetooth speakers under 200 dollars that do well on the road. 

UE Megaboom 3

UE Megaboom 3 - Speakers for travelling - Best bluetooth speakers under 200

Cool, loud and versatile, the Megaboom 3 is the best Bluetooth speaker under 200 dollars from UE. This portable speaker has an IP67 rating, which means it can stay under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and still play on. That said, you’d have to hold it under since it floats — a great benefit when listening at a lake or river. Its deep bass and 360º sound last up to 20 hours on one charge, which is longer than the other wireless Bluetooth speakers under the UE umbrella. And if you have any other Boom and Megaboom speakers, the UE app lets you link them up to play simultaneously for incredible surround sound.

Pros:

  • Extremely waterproof & impact-proof
  • Great bass

Cons:

  • No speakerphone
  • The charging unit is sold separately

Check Prices: UE Megaboom 3

Bose Soundlink Mini

Bose Soundlink Mini - best portable speakers for travel

This is one of the best Bluetooth speakers because of its sound quality alone. It also seems to be a favorite in the hospitality industry. I have seen it (and earlier models) in countless hotel rooms and apartment rentals over the last few years. The Soundlink has an exceptional sound for its size — both in deep bass and on the high end. This is one of the best Bluetooth speakers under 200 dollars for both home and travel use. That said, it lacks weatherproofing and shock absorbancy. I’d trust this less in the hands of little ones, and be more cautious in the woods or near a river. The sound is exceptional, but I would consider buying a carrying case for the speaker.

Pros:

  • Exceptional sound for the size/price
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Great for calls/voice

Cons:

  • Bigger & heavier (less portable)
  • No water/impact proofing

Check Prices: Bose Soundlink Mini

Fugoo Tough XL

Fugoo Tough XL - best bluetooth travel speakers

Rough and rugged, Fugoo’s Tough XL is one of the most durable of the best portable speakers under 200 dollars. It’s IP67 grade water & shockproof and can hit 97 decibels. You get four tweeters, two domed woofers and two bass drivers, each aimed for a 360-degree sound. Better yet, the battery can last up to 35 hours, making it one of the best Bluetooth speakers for travel off the beaten path. Is your phone low on juice? The Fugoo Tough XL has a micro USB port where you can charge devices on the go. Super functional, but a bit heavier than other portable speakers its size.

Pros:

  • Extremely long battery life

Cons:

  • It’s Heavy

Check Prices: Fugoo Tough XL

Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 100 Dollars

This is the most popular range of Bluetooth portable speakers selling today. But not all wireless speakers are created equal. If you’re looking for the best Bluetooth speakers under 100 dollars, here’s which ones we recommend.

UE Wonderboom 2

UE Wonderboom 2 - Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 100 Dollars

Calling all swimmers. This is the best travel speaker for families who spend lots of time in the pool. The UE Wonderboom is not only IXP7-grade waterproof, but it also floats. The 10-hour battery life isn’t as long as it should be, but for what you get, it’s worth it.

Pros:

  • 13-hour battery life
  • IPX7 Rated & floats

Cons:

  • Not as loud and room-filling
  • Wall adapter not included
  • No speakerphone

Check Prices: UE Wonderboom 2

UE Boom 2

UE Boom 2 - Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 100 Dollars

This is an older model but still gives you all the features that the best portable speaker should have. You get waterproofing, 360º sound, long battery life, and a long connectivity distance. This has been one of the best Bluetooth travel speakers for several years now. And it remains one of the best Bluetooth speakers under 100 dollars because it’s that good. On top of that, it’s had a significant price drop as newer products hit the shelves.

Pros:

  • Can be submerged in water for up to 30min
  • Great sound
  • 15-hour battery life

Cons:

  • Make sure to calibrate the battery well or it drains quickly

Check Prices: UE Boom 2

Bose Soundlink Micro

Bose Soundlink Micro - best waterproof bluetooth speakers

This tiny dynamo from Bose is one of the best portable speakers for bass considering how small it is. It weighs just over half a pound and straps effortlessly to a bike or backpack without feeling unwieldy. Rugged IP67 rating for shock and waterproof, as well. Yet it sounds great and connects to Siri and Google Assistant for hands-free use. The only issue for me is the 6-hour battery life. Plenty for most situations, but not for all-day at the beach.

Pros:

  • Best sound & bass for its size

Cons:

  • Only 6 hours of battery life

Check Prices: Bose Soundlink Micro

JBL Flip 4

JBL Flip 4 - Best bluetooth speakers under 100

For its price, the JBL Flip 4 easily makes our list of best travel speakers. Why? Because of its ruggedness and sound quality. It has a full sound for a Bluetooth speaker under $100. And being IXP7 rated means that the speaker can get soaked and still pump out the jams. It’s also nice to be able to connect more than one device. That said, the Flip doesn’t have the sound quality of its more expensive peers. It also loses battery life very quickly when played at top volumes — by some accounts in four hours or less.

Pros:

  • Waterproof IPX7
  • Connects more than one device
  • 40 feet wireless

Cons:

  • Battery life drains fast at high volumes

Check Prices: JBL Flip 4

Best Bluetooth Speakers Under 50 Dollars

It’s amazing what kind of travel speakers you can get now for so little. Sure, the high-end Bluetooth speakers sound great, but the budget models are more advanced and better sounding every year. Here are the best Bluetooth speakers under 50 dollars that we recommend.

Oontz Angle 3 Ultra

Oontz Angle 3 Ultra - best bluetooth travel speakers under 50

This little guy from Cambridge Soundworks is one of the best Bluetooth speakers under 50 dollars for camping and road trips. It has good sound and long battery life for its size and price range. It also has nice higher-end features like linking with multiple devices and compatibility with Siri, Google Assitant and others. The Oontz Angle 3 Ultra has a 20-hour playing time under ideal conditions. And the Bluetooth range is up to 100 feet — much further than many of the best wireless speakers in this category. That means it’s great at the campsite or the rest stop. However, with an IPX5 waterproof rating. That means it’s slightly less ideal for the beach since it can’t stay underwater like other Bluetooth speakers in its class. It can take shots of high-powered water, but not long-term submersion.

Pros:

  • 100-foot
  • 20-hour
  • connects to other devices

Cons:

  • IPX6

Check Prices: Oontz Angle 3 Ultra

Anker Soundcore 2

anker soundcore 2 - best bluetooth speakers under 50 with battery life

We’re a fan of our Anker USB ports and know that they build sturdy and reliable equipment. The Anker Soundcore makes our best travel speakers under 50 dollars for its durability and impressive battery life. For such an inexpensive speaker, the Soundcore has good water and dust-resistant elements. It also claims a 24-hour playtime. Even if this was greatly exaggerated, it’s still good for a speaker in this price range. That said, don’t expect to rock the entire house with this one. The low-end is weak but it’s a competent speaker for many occasions.

Pros:

  • 24-hour playtime
  • Better splash/dust-proofing than others in its class

Cons:

  • Can’t handle deep bass
  • Mini-USB

Check Prices: Anker Soundcore 2

JBL Clip 3

JBL Clip 3 - best bluetooth speakers under 50 for camping

This little guy comes IPX7 waterproof and is small enough to attach to your pack with its built-in carabiner clip. Don’t expect massive sound here, but it does well for what it is. Also, be careful around the water. It’s IPX7 rated waterproof and also acts as a speakerphone when needed.

Pros:

  • IPX7 rated
  • Built-in cord

Cons:

  • Not very powerful
  • Open place for wire means not waterproof

Check Prices: JBL Clip 3

VTIN R4 Portable Bluetooth Speaker 

VTIN - best bluetooth speakers under 20 dollars

Looking for the best Bluetooth speakers less than 20 dollars? Then this may be for you. The VTIN R4 has a decent sound for the price and pairs quickly with most devices. Better yet, its battery can last up to 20 hours — it says 24 but it’s really more like 20 in ideal conditions. It even has a TF card (like a Micro SD card) if you’d rather plug in your music rather than play it via Bluetooth. It’s only an IPX5 waterproof rating, but for the price can you complain?

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Connects quickly

Cons:

  • Very limited bass

Check Prices: VTIN R4 Portable Bluetooth Speaker 

Top Portable Speakers for Specific Uses

Best All-Around Bluetooth Speaker for Travel

If I have to choose just one Bluetooth Speaker for travel, I’d probably go with the Wonderboom 2. It’s listed above under the best portable speakers under 100 dollars, but I consider it the best gear for a traveler’s needs. It’s so small and light yet has sound quality you might not expect. Sure, it doesn’t have a speakerphone mode, which could be a deal-breaker for some people but not us. When it comes to the output compared to the weight and space in my luggage, few portable travel speakers compare.

Check Prices: UE Wonderboom 2

Best Portable Speakers for Bass

If you’re looking for wireless travel speakers that really thump, then just about anything in the Bose, JBL and UE families will do the trick. If you’re looking at Bluetooth speakers under 100 dollars, then the Oontz Angleis the ticket.

Check Prices:  UE Megaboom 3 

Best Travel Speakers for Battery life

In general, Bluetooth speaker battery life is getting longer across the board, but certain models are pulling ahead of the pack. For Bluetooth speakers under 200 dollars, the Fugoo Tough XL is the best in its class. In ideal conditions, you get up to 35 hours of play. Next up I’d choose UE’s Megaboom series at 20 hours. Drop down to the best Bluetooth speakers under 50 dollar and you have some great choices as well. For example, the Anker Soundcore and the R4 from VTIN can deliver up to 20 hours, but both run down much faster when played at high volume.

Check Prices: Fugoo Tough XL

Best Wireless Speakers for Backpacking Europe, Asia, etc

If you’re taking a backpacking trip, then I’d eschew the high-end travel speakers and go for something lighter and cheaper. There are plenty of great Bluetooth speakers under 100 dollars, and many under 50 dollars as well. As mentioned earlier, I’d recommend the Wonderboom 2 thanks to its sound quality and diminutive size. Drop a pricepoint and the Anker Soundcore is a great option with its fantastic battery life. Last but not least, the Bose Soundlink Micro and the JBL Clip 3 are nice additions since you can hook then into a daypack during a hike or even jam in the hostel shower (if no one else is around, f course). 

Check Prices: Wonderboom 2

Best Bluetooth Speakers for Car Use

Planning to take wireless speakers on a road trip? If so, then we’d recommend ones that offer hands-free operations. For example, the Fugoo Tough is compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. So is the Anker Soundcore series. That way you can pull up music. search addresses and access directions more easily. Both also have speakerphone mode, which can be helpful for calling hotels and other businesses while driving. 

Check Prices: Fugoo Tough XL

Best Travel Speakers for the Beach/Pool

Pool parties and beach holidays demand good music as well, but you want to make sure your gear can survive a splash or two. Or three. That’s why the best Bluetooth speakers for the wet and wild situations are at least IPX7 grade, which means that they can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes and still function properly. UE’s boom and Wonderboom series are both IPX7, and the Wonderboom 2 has the added benefit of buoyancy since you wouldn’t want it to sink to the bottom of a lake. The JBL Clip and Bose Soundlink Micro are also IPX7 and are and attach easily to the side of a picnic basket. 

Check Prices: Bose Soundlink Micro

Best Wireless Speakers for Camping

If you’re looking for portable speakers for camping, then all the ones mentioned above for the beach/pool will do nicely. They’re all IPX7 grade which means that they can take the dust, dirt, and rain that comes with the great outdoors. I’d also suggest the Fugoo Tough and the Anker Soundcoore for camping since they have incredibly long battery life. In fact, the Fugoo has the added benefit of a charging dock in case your phone runs out of power on the trail.

Check Prices: Fugoo Tough XL

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Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy one of the best speakers for travelling after clicking one of my links, we might get a small commission. You pay no extra, so don’t worry. Also, everything you see here is just my personal opinion. I only recommend gear, places, and activities that I believe will genuinely help your travel. I hope that this list of the best portable speaker, the best Bluetooth speakers, and the best speakers for traveling families helps you make the right choice for your trip. 

Photo Credits via Creative Commons CC BY or other Royalty-free image sites. Some images may have been altered slightly via cropping or color enhancement: #1, #2, #3, #16, #17

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Comments

  1. Taylor Bishop says

    Thanks for these tips for picking good portable speakers. I like that you mentioned to try to find a speaker that has a good sound quality for what you’ll be using it for. This seems especially important if you want it to be clear for things like audio broadcasts or podcasts.