Best Portable Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel

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If you love music as much as we do, you’d consider bringing one of the best portable speakers when you travel. Their size keeps getting smaller and the audio quality keeps getting better.

Want to know more about the best portable speakers? What are the best Bluetooth speakers for travel? What features do they have? Why would you want one? Read on as I break down the ins and outs of the best Bluetooth speakers for travel.

The Best Travel Speakers Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel 3

The Best Portable Speakers

As our kids grew older, they wanted to have their own music in whatever room they had in each apartment rental. If you have one of the best portable speakers, then it’s easy to lets the kids rock out on the road without having to carry around a lot of extra gear.

Music on the road has changed a lot since I was a grungy backpacker in the late 90’s. No more Walkmans, Discmans, and portable MD players. Today’s best Bluetooth speakers give you incredible sound that you can share with the entire family.

Below I break down what to look for in the best portable speakers. I also detail some of the reasons why buying one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers for your family travel is a worthwhile endeavor.

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  Dimensions (inch)Weight (lb)Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
B&O Play A17.5x7.5x3.51.3Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
Libratone Too2.5x8.2x2.31.3Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
Bose Soundlink II8.9x4.6x52.6Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
Ultimate Ears Boom 22.5x2.5x71.0Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
JBL Charge 33.4x9.1x3.51.8Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom4.2x4.6x5.21.3Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
JBL Flip 43.6x3.6x8.51.8Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
Creative Muvo 2C3.7x2.6x1.50.4Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
Anker Soundcore 22.1x6.5x1.80.8Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
UE Roll 21.6x5.3x5.30.7Check Price
The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel
JBL Clip 21.7x3.7x5.60.4Check Price

Why Bring a Portable Speaker when You Travel?

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? You must decide for yourself.

For us? We actually carry three. Why? Well for one, we travel slowly with everything we own. When we were traveling through Malaysia, we had two of them: the original one we brought with us, and then a second as a Christmas gift. Then when we moved to Spain, the boy wanted one of his own for his room. Hello, Christmas present!

We have no other speakers. There is no other home with a stereo system waiting for our return. In addition, we love music, podcasts, and audiobooks, and find lots of uses for them — both where we live and out on the road.

More Than Just Music

Sure, it’s nice to have your favorite tunes for the hotel, guesthouse or apartment rental. Then again, the best portable speakers are much more than that.

Do you value having access to Vivaldi or James Brown on the road? We do. However, a good Bluetooth speaker also gives your family much more than music.

It gives you sing-alongs. And it can supply you with ambient sounds to muffle outside noise when the kids need to sleep.

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, The Golden Compass at the Grand Canyon, The Trials of Apollo in Northern Spain, and the Kane Chronicles in the Canary Islands.

A lot of each audiobook was consumed while driving, but our Bluetooth speakers were pulled out for frequent listens over breakfast, as well.

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. For example, our kids love listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me during breakfasts.

Speaking of podcasts, have you heard ours? Each week on Epic Education Radio, I interview another family traveler or discuss an issue related to family travel and living abroad. Tune in! It may help you with your next trip!

Boost Your TV Speaker

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 footy fan), but mostly for movie rentals.

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 all the rest of the time, we prefer our supplying own audio.

We use a GoGroove Flexsmart X2 radio adapter to listen to our devices through the radio. But sometimes there are too many stations in one area, which means the Go Groove can’t find a clear channel. That’s when we pull out the Bluetooth speaker.

Traveling with Electronic Means New Plugs. Read Our Travel Plug Adapter Tips

What to Look For in the Best Travel Speakers

The Best Travel Speakers Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel 2

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 before.

When it comes to the sound quality of the best speakers for traveling families, the volume is only one consideration. Think about what you’ll use your portable speaker for and buy accordingly.

For example, let me tell you how we use two of our three speakers. Our Jabra Solemate is a great portable speaker for traveling families who like to dance. 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 Jawbone Jambox portable speaker has a great high end. The bass is decent, but this speaker is better than the Solemate for the spoken word. When we’re watching a movie and want to hear what the hero is saying clearly, the Jambox is the better one. If we wanted to hear the bombast of an action movie, then the Solemate is best.

Battery Life

No portable speaker is worth anything if it runs out of juice quickly. The best portable speakers for traveling families have a 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, 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. Then drain it again at least once.

Wireless Range & Connectivity

The best Bluetooth speakers 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, sometimes I listen to Toots & the Maytals while cooking breakfast (that happens a lot). 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 traveling families have a long wireless range and still play clearly even if your device is further away. Just don’t expect it to connect through walls.

Water & Shock Resistance

This is an especially important feature for families with young kids: 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 present 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 (built-in wire, charges phone, voice calling/dialing, etc)

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 of the best portable speakers also have voice dialing and voice calling features. Not as important to us, but maybe more important for you.

Need luggage? Read About the Best Carry-on Bags and Check-in Suitcases 

Best Portable Speakers for Traveling Families

B&O Play A1

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

Out of all of the best travel speakers listed here, this one has arguably the best sound. It also has the highest price tag. Bang & Olafson make amazing products, and they make some of the best portable speakers on the market, but whether this one is for your family is for you to decide.

The extra long battery life is a big plus. As is the amazing sound. On the other hand, this is also one of the largest and heaviest travel blue tooth speakers listed here.

Pros:

  • Long battery life (24hrs)
  • Exquisite sound
  • Splash-proof
  • Use two for stereo sound

Cons:

  • Pricier in comparison
  • Heavy (600g)
  • Connectivity range is low for that price

Check the price of B&O Play A1

Libratone Too

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

This snazzy little number makes our list of best travel speakers for its shape and sound. It’s about the same size as a water bottle and can fit in the same side pockets of backpacks.

It also has great sound quality for its size, with 360º sound. Being able to withstand a little water is also a big plus.

Pros:

  • Packable size
  • 360º sound
  • Splash-proof

Cons:

  • Uses micro USB cable to charge

Check the price of Libratone Too

Bose Soundlink II

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family 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 exceptional sound for its size — both in deep bass and on the high end.

This is one of the best Bluetooth speakers for a home or hotel room. 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 battery life
  • Great for calls/voices

Cons:

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

Check the price of Bose Soundlink II

Ultimate Ears Boom 2

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

The Boom 2 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 travel speakers for nearly two years now. And it remains one of the best portable speakers for traveling families because it’s that good. On top of that, it’s had a significant price drop as newer products have 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 batter well or the battery drains quickly

Check the price of Ultimate Ears Boom 2

JBL Charge 3

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

This may be the best travel speaker on the market for a number of reasons. It’s IPX7-grade waterproof. It has a 20-hour battery life, and it can connect up to three devices at a time. This can be useful when you and your kids all want to share your playlists.

What launches it to possibly the best portable speaker for travelers is that is also has a built-in power pack. Now you can charge a device or two on the go.

The output is great, but it isn’t 360º sound, so you need to face it in the direction you want to listen. Other than that, I’d consider this one of the top Bluetooth speakers to consider.

Pros:

  • Battery pack
  • IPX7 rated
  • 20-hour battery life

Cons:

  • No 360º sound

Check the price of JBL Charge 3

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

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, 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:

  • 10-hour battery
  • IPX7 Rated & floats

Cons:

  • Not as loud and room-filling
  • Wall adapter not included

Check the price of Ultimate Ears Wonderboom

JBL Flip 4

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

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:

  • Sacrifice of some sound quality
  • Battery life drains fast at high volumes

Check the price of JBL Flip 4

Under 50

Creative Muvo 2C

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

For such a small, inexpensive piece of gear, the Creative Muvo 2C works impressively well. It makes our list of best Bluetooth speakers under 50 dollars because of its sound quality and features.

The Muvo is splash-proof. Another unique feature is the built-in MP3 player, which means that you don’t have to have a smart device to use it. That said, you’d need to pre-load its microSD card beforehand.

Low battery life is the main drawback, but its other features more than compensate for it.

Pros:

  • Good sound for money
  • Splash-proof
  • Built-in MP3 player

Cons:

  • 5-6 hour battery life

Check the price of Creative Muvo 2C

Anker Soundcore 2

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

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 play time. 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 play time
  • Better splash/dust-proofing than others in its class

Cons:

  • Can’t handle deep bass
  • Mini-USB

Check the price of Anker Soundcore 2

Ultimate Ears UE Roll 2

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

This little dome of sound makes the best travel speaker lists all over because of its design and sound for the money. The UE Roll arguably has great sound and great waterproofing for a speaker in its price range.

But what launches it into so many “Best Travel Speaker” lists is its design. You can find room for such a small disk of sound in just about any pack or suitcase.

Pros:

  • Waterproof and durable
  • 30meter connectivity

Cons:

  • Less than 10 hours of battery
  • No speakerphone

Check the price of UE Roll 2

JBL Clip 2

The Best Travel Speakers: Choosing the Best Bluetooth Speakers for Travel, portable speakers, bluetooth speakers, family travel

This little guy comes 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 but has a place to insert a wire which makes it vulnerable to water damage

Pros:

  • IPX7 rated
  • Built-in cord

Cons:

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

Check the price of JBL Clip 2

Conclusion: What’s the Best Travel Speaker for Your Family?

What’s the best portable speaker for your travels? Which Bluetooth speakers fit your needs best? Do you have one already and are in the market for a second one or a replacement? What are your criteria for the best travel speaker?

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Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy one of the best travel speakers 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. 

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.

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