I find that when I'm on a plane or train, my noice-cancelling headphones are a wonder. Even if I don't listen to any music or podcasts, the noise canceling dramatically reduces my discomfort and maybe even reduces stress levels.
Here is another reason to wear them [via MA]. They will likely make the food taste better.
[S]eparate research revealed the sort of noise we are subjected to inside aircraft cabin affects taste buds, reducing our sense of saltiness and sweetness - and increasing crunchiness.
To test the theory, 48 diners were blindfolded and fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones at Unilever's laboratories and the University of Manchester.
Each volunteer rated the foods for flavour and said how much they liked them.
Background noise led to the foods being rated less salty or sweet. They were also perceived as more crunchy.
I'm not at all sure I believe this. And I'll grant that carrying over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones is just another thing to worry about on an airplane. But often the bother is worth the effort.