What’s the one travel accessory always found in my carry-on bag? And my purse? Sometimes even in my jacket pocket? That one accessory I don’t leave behind? The one accessory that is:
- Easy to pack
- Easy to use
- Does not require electricity or batteries
- A peacemaker for the whole family
And, you can use it at home too? What’s this one essential travel accessory I never leave home without? Here’s a hint – it might save you a headache! Or from doing an impersonation of this man!
It’s Earplugs, My Friend!
Yep, sounds pretty boring, huh! I have to admit – I kind of feel silly writing about it. But trust me, a pair ear plugs has saved my day – and night – on many a vacation. I have them stashed just about everywhere these days. Kids can be noisy, you know! So can hotel rooms, airplanes, trains, cars, rock concerts, and sleeping spouses – you just never know when a pair of earplugs will come in handy. Especially when traveling!
Ten Reasons Why Earplugs are A Traveler’s Best Friend
Need more convincing? Here’s my top ten uses for earplugs, and why you too might consider earplugs your newest travel essential. And why you might also consider them a new-found friend at home. So stash a pair of ear plugs for the ride, stash a pair in your suitcase, stash a pair in your nightstand, and enjoy some blissful peace!
1. Sleep soundly at your destination. Don’t loose sleep from snoring spouses, restless kids, or annoyingly loud neighbors. Hotels are notoriously noisy, especially when the whole family is stuffed into one closet-sized room. Or at least it feels like a closet.
2. Tune out noisy neighbors on planes, trains, and automobiles. Traveling can be exhausting. The travelers around you can be quite noisy. Wouldn’t you love to take a nap, or dull the chitter-chatter of the dude on his cell phone? Ear plugs!
3. Catch some zzzz’s on that red-eye flight. Wouldn’t it be nice to check out after you check in for that red-eye flight back home? Ear plugs! No more listening to noisy neighbors who want to party on the red-eye!
4. Tune out the snoring spouse. When ever. Where ever. I think that says it all!
5. Read a book while they watch TV. Everyone is relaxing back in the hotel room after a hard day of vacation fun. But everyone’s idea of relaxation is different. Mine is a book. Theirs is TV. Ear plugs! Peaceful reading achieved.
6. Motorsports events. NASCAR, moto-cross and speed boat racing events are loud! And actually can be harmful to the ears. Ear plugs! Minimize the risk of ear damage.
7. Concentration required. Need to focus? Need to study, or say, write a blog without the interruption of noisy kids in the background? Ear plugs! Transform a noisy room into blisssful peace.
8. Turn down the music. Yeah, I know, isn’t it counter-intuitive to use earplugs at a concert? Maybe not, if you have to accompany your tween and her friends to a Justin Bieber concert. Or you don’t want to listen to your teen’s music.
9. Hunting and target practice with firearms. Or other events and activities that go “bang.” Save your ears with ear plugs.
10. Swimming. Don’t risk swimmer’s ear or another ear infection in a strange pool or at the lake.
Two Creative Ear Plug Uses
Earring Holder – Ear plugs are also great pierced earring holders. Don’t leave earrings loose in your travel bag or sitting on the bathroom sink – attach them to an ear plug. Safe and sound now, no longer lost in the bag, nor knocked down the bathroom sink drain. Yep, that’s happened to me. 🙁
Toe Nail Decorum – Painting your toe nails? Don’t have that long foam toe separator? Use cheap foam ear plugs to keep your toes separated! Slide one between each toe and you are ready to paint away. 🙂
Who knew ear plugs could be so versatile!
What Earplugs Should You Buy?
There are all kinds of ear plugs in different styles and materials, with varying Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR). Fit and NRR levels are the two most important features to consider when purchasing ear plugs, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. What works for me, might not work for you.
The NRR Level
The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is used to determine just how “noise-proof” a pair of ear plugs can be. NRR is stated in decibels and should be listed on the earplug packaging. The higher the NRR, the more noise-proof the earplugs can be, and the greater the hearing protection they can provide.
How high an NRR rating should you go? That depends on the noise level you want to block. Maximum noise blockage is not always the ideal choice for mildly noisy surroundings. But it might be if you are at a rock concert. Or attending a twelve year old girl’s birthday party, complete with ten screaming girls.
Ear Plug Fit
How an ear plug fits is based in part on the type of material and the shape of the ear plug. Ear plug materials can be soft foam, silicone plastic, or wax. Shapes can be cylindrical, rounded, or ridged. In the end, it is your own ear that will determine which ear plug is the best for you.
Disposable vs Reusable Ear Plugs
You can splurge on more expensive re-usable earplugs. Or you can d buy less expensive disposable ones. I prefer disposable. A twelve pair pack of good quality disposable earplugs is between $3 and $5. If they get lost, as they often do, I’ve got another pair and I haven’t broke the bank. Disposable ones also don’t require cleaning. Yuck!
Are you a “first time” ear plug user? Perhaps the Assortment Pack from The Ear Plug Superstore has just the right fit!
My Favorite Earplugs
My personal favorite are the Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Ear plugs. They are inexpensive, the rounded edge makes them easier to insert, and the NRR rating is 32, just enough to block out snoring spouses and neighboring chitter-chatter, but not so much that I won’t hear smoke detectors or alarm clocks.
Ahhh peace and quiet!
What’s your “must-have” travel accessory? Do you use ear plugs when you travel? When you are at home? Do you have a creative use of earplugs, not listed here? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Images from Creative Commons, The Earplug Store, Mack’s EarPlugs.