Snoozing on a plane is a rare talent. That being said, whether or not you possess the gifted ability to fall asleep on a plane, there are issues that could plague you. It could the problem of a numb lower back, a stiff neck or, at the very least, a headache. However, something you can do to actually help you along. Before you resort to sleeping pills or alcohol or blow your money on a first-class ticket, try out good, op-rated travel pillows. The very best pillows for travel go a long way in ensuring good sleep aboard a flight. They not only offer you the right posture and alignment but also the comfort you need. So, it’s no wonder that travel pillows feature on almost every list of best accessories for travelers.
The welcoming world of travel pillows features tons of plushy products that will help you feel and sleep better. We’ve rounded up a few favorites, ranging from traditional, inflatable ones to discreet pillows that can be stowed away easily. Check out some of the best pillows for travel that’ll go a long way in making your mid-air snooze better.
How to choose the best travel pillow?
Types of travel pillows
There are three main kinds of travel pillows available – memory foam, micro-bead, and inflatable ones. Memory foam ones are the firmest around and offer consistent neck support. While they’re the most expensive, they can be compressed for compact packing. Micro-bead travel pillows are U-shaped, lightweight, and full of tiny polystyrene beads. While they change shape to offer neck support, they’re not the most comfortable around. Inflatable ones are ideal for budget travelers. They’re usually available as U-shaped ones. What’s more, they can be inflated to the desired size and firmness and deflated to be folded and carried in the luggage.
Support and comfort
To find the pillow with the best comfort and support, you need to consider how you actually sleep while sitting or traveling. For instance, if you’re the kind who leans forward, then travel pillows with neck braces provide excellent support. If you lean back, then a memory foam or an inflatable pillow makes more sense.
Choosing the right kind of fabric is important when it comes to the comfort of a travel pillow. It’s important to choose fabrics considering the kind of climate of the places you usually travel to. For instance, smooth plastic and cotton are better suited for hot and humid climates, while fleece is ideal for flights and colder, wintry climates. Also, you need to consider what kind of fabrics are comfortable with your skin and what irritates it.
Weight & Size
Travel pillows all have different weights and sizes. Hence, you need to choose a pillow that fits your travel style. If you’re a light traveler, opt for lightweight, small ones like inflatable or memory foam pillows. If you prefer a microbead one, you need to remember that it is bulky and needs extra space in your carry-on.
Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow
Are you someone who wants to engage in some well-need shuteye shamelessly? Clearly, the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow was made for travelers like you. Unlike other traditional travel pillows, this one is long, lean, inflatable, and quite an eyesore. However, what it lacks in terms of subtlety, the travel pillow makes up for in terms of comfort.
When inflated, the Travelrest Ultimate is akin to a long, bent tube. It tucks across the body or down the side and right above the shoulder. A secure strap around the body keeps the pillow stable. While you might be right in thinking that its awkward to look at, the pillow scores high on comfort. It’s one of the only ones out there to offer 100% support to your upper body. What’s more, it can be easily and quickly deflated into a small roll smaller than a burrito.
The travel pillow is hellishly versatile as well. Even when inflated, it can be attached in many ways to the handle of your carry-on as well as train, car, and airline seats.
Dimensions: 26 x 7.9 x 5.9 inches (66 x 20 x 14.9 cm)
- Easily deflates and compacts for quick storage.
- It can be tethered in a variety of ways to different objects.
- It can be worn in many adjustable positions.
- The cover is made of synthetic, soft fabric.
- Only hand-wash and not machine washable.
- Not as comfortable for people who wear glasses all the time.
Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow
The sleek Evolution Cool from Cabeau is about, well, keeping hot travelers cool. If you’re the kind who gets hot easily and quickly, then the Cabeau Evolution Cool is ideal for you.
The nifty travel pillow features a host of innovative ‘cooling’ features for enhancing breathability. The cover, which is made of spandex-polyester, is cool and smooth to touch and is completely sweat-absorbing. The memory foam filling boasts breathable cooling air circulation side vents which are particularly helpful in hotter environments. Moreover, the contoured edges lend the pillow softness and less of a ‘neck brace’ feel. The sporty design also allows for shoulder space as well as space between the ears for earbuds. Plus, the toggles connecting to the pillow’s ends allow for adjusting the tightness too.
If all that wasn’t enough, the travel pillow also offers 360-degree support. One of the best pillows for travel out there, the Cabeau Evolution Cool is an excellent option for a U-shaped neck pillow that doesn’t get hot.
Dimensions: 9.75 x 9.5 x 5.5 inches (24.7 x 24.2 x 14 cm)
- The pillow cover is breathable and is cool and smooth to touch.
- It is highly adjustable and works for smaller necks too.
- The 360-degree support system keeps the user comfortable no matter how they sleep.
- The soft top layer foam might not be supportive enough for all.
If you’re someone who usually leans one the same side while sleeping, then the Trtl Pillow is ideal. The travel pillow boasts a fleece-covered plastic frame that lends solid support to the neck’s side, remaining comfortable to wear at the same time.
Pronounced ‘turtle’, the scarf-like Trtl Pillow is all kinds of a sleep savior. The one-sided neck brace is akin to a robust inner rib that can contour to any shoulder, jaw, or neck shape. A cozy, wraparound fleece keeps the neck warm when it gets too cold, especially during flights. However, the pillow’s absolute winning characteristic is its small, packable size. It is 50% smaller than a traditional neck pillow and takes up as much space as a sandwich. Furthermore, it’s machine washable to the T.
Dimensions: When folded up, the pillow measures 3 x 1.5 x 3 inches (7.6 x 3.8 x 7.6 cm).
- Comfy, supportive, and extremely lightweight.
- Ergonomically supportive.
- Extremely flexible and easy to pack.
- When the plane is hot, the pillow might feel hot.
Ostrich Pillow Light
If you’re someone who hates raucous neighbors and bright lights on flights, the Ostrich Pillow Light is an absolute lifesaver. This adjustable micro-bead pillow sets you up perfectly for deep slumber so you can grab that much-needed shuteye.
This versatile pillow works as a hat, scarf, and even wrapped around the eyes like an eyeshade. The adjustable pillow is chock-full of silicon-covered, polystyrene micro-beads that filter and reduce the surrounding ambient noise. A blend of elastomer and viscose not only makes for a soft exterior but also absorbs moisture effectively. What’s more, the design is very lightweight and is easy to not only carry but pack as well.
Furthermore, the travel pillow comes in a gamut of color combinations, including a range of solid colors. If that wasn’t enough, most of the choices are both, color and material reversible.
Dimensions: When laid out flat, the pillow is 14 x 6 x 3 inches (35.5 x 15.2 x 7.6 cm).
- It comes with not only a 30-day guarantee but also a 2-year warranty covering all material and quality defects.
- Provides excellent comfort.
- Excellent ambient noise reduction and light blocking.
- Not conducive to machine washes.
Bcozzy Travel Pillow
The Bcozzy travel pillow is specially designed for travelers who love their over-the-ear headphones and tend to lean forward while nodding off.
The super-snug travel pillow is built on a variation of the hemi-donut design. Its ends overlap to form a snug cushion providing support for your chin. Travelers who love large pairs of headphones can easily pair it with this pillow without any hindrance. Apart from providing the right amount of support, the pillow also boasts a slim back that doesn’t push the head away from the headrest either. It even has a small loop that can be used to clip the pillow to the outside of most bags, thus saving up much-needed space within.
Going a step further, the pillow features a washable and removable soft cover which helps with its durability. What’s also excellent about it is that it comes in both adult and kids sizes. The kids’ version has fun prints and styles for kids to choose from. So, it makes for an excellent buy for families.
Dimensions: The adult one measures 0.39 x 10.24 x 11.81 inches (1 x 26 x 30 cm), while the kids size measures 8.9 x 7 x 0.9 inches (22.6 x 17.7 x 2.3 cm).
- Attaches to any luggage or seat easily with a slip.
- Lightweight and very comfortable.
- Made from extremely soft, squishy material.
- Cover is non-removable.
- Neck support is minimal.
Travelers should know that there are many other shape options for travel pillows apart from the traditional horseshoe-shaped ones. One of the best pillows for travel is the unique J pillow, whose patrons even go as far as calling it the ‘invention of the year.’
The J Pillow has three arms forming a 3D shape of the true uppercase alphabet ‘J’, with all arms curved almost into a ‘C.’ The pillow is particularly designed to cradle your chin, neck, and head. The gentle curves on each ‘arm’ allow the pillow to be worn in several ways to provide support and alleviate muscle tension at the same time. Not only is it lightweight, but it also has a loop as well as a drawstring to connect it to any type of carry-on. What’s more, the pillow also has a soft, fuzzy polyester cover which is very easy to both clean and machine wash too.
The pillow works best when one is occupying the window seat, so it is rested against the wall of the plane. The one-of-a-kind shape makes for an elevated, upright sleeping position and doesn’t let your head flop forward.
Dimensions: 12 x 7 x 12 inches (30.5 x 13.7 x 30.5 cm)
- Extremely soft.
- Possesses the correct amounts of firmness.
- Ensures sound sleep without any post-flight chin/neck/head pain.
- Due to its softness, sometimes getting a grip onto stuff might be a little harder.
Cloudz EZ-Inflate Cloud Sleeper
For many travelers, flopping onto the tray table is one of the most preferred ways of sleeping on a flight. However, if a 2011 study is anything to go by, tray tables and their germs are best avoided. To that end, the Cloudz EZ-Inflate Cloud Sleeper is perhaps your best bet.
This easily inflatable pillow lends a massage chair-like face-hugging feel, whether its your lap you put your head on or the tray table. The pillow can best be described as a portable upper half of a massage chair. The general idea is to bend forward and place your face into the top-facing hole, much like a massage chair. So, while it might be a stretch to call it a pillow, it does provide much-needed relief from the traditional U-shaped solutions. It inflates via a discrete two-valve system, allowing users to adjust the top and bottom sections separately for optimum comfort. Plus, it also packs nearly flat when it is deflated.
Dimensions: 15.5 x 11 x 16 inches (39.4 x 27.9 x 40.6 cm)
- Extremely nifty for those who fall asleep in the forward position.
- The cover is not only removable but washable as well.
- Its in-your-face appearance might not appeal to everyone.
Aircomfy Ease Travel Pillow
If you’re looking for an excellent support pillow that can be carried everywhere, the AirComfy Travel Pillow is the best. The inflatable pillow shaped like an hourglass is suitable not only for travel but also as a knee/back support pillow while sitting or sleeping.
Priced less than $20, the AirComfy makes for one high-value travel pillow option. It can be easily inflated and deflated to be used or stowed away into a carry-on. The most highlighting feature of the pillow is its design, which provides neck or lumbar support. An elastic band that can be used to secure it to your headrest lends much-needed stability. It also prevents the pillow from jostling about unnecessarily, making it an extremely attractive option for light sleepers.
Apart from a compact size, the AirComfy can also be used by both adults and children by simply filling in different air capacities to adjust firmness preferences. The fact that the AirComfy doesn’t come with a cover will not bother you much, especially in light of its many, many virtues.
Dimensions: 14 x 3.2 x 8.5 inches (35.5 x 8.1 x 21.6 cm)
- Excellent lumbar support for office workers and during air/road travel.
- Classy colors and plush velvet exterior make it one of the most attractive-looking pillows for travel
- Doesn’t come with a cover.
Thermarest Compressible Pillow
If you don’t want to be caught dead with a U-shaped travel pillow around your neck, perhaps the classic, rectangle-shaped Thermarest Compressible Pillow will appeal to you. Right from camping to sleeping in a sitting position on a flight, the soft Thermarest Compressible Pillow
This nifty pillow, which is filled with urethane foam, packs to 20% of its normal size in a neat way within a comfy polyester cover. The foam fills out within minutes of unrolling the pillow, giving air and road travelers the right amount of window-seat support. What’s more, environment-conscious buyers will love the fact that the fiberfill is up-cycled from mattress leftovers from Thermarest itself.
Going a step further, the nifty pillow is available in two sizes, small and medium, so people can choose what they’re more comfortable with. Plus, it comes in a whole gamut of funky, fun prints. On more than one occasion, it has been priced at a level as low as $14, so keep an eye out for this one!
Dimensions: The pillow comes in four sizes – Small, 16 x 12 x 4 inches (40.6 x 30.5 x 10.1 cm); Medium, 18 x 14 x 4 inches (45.7 x 35.5 x 10.1 cm); Large, 23 x 18 x 4 (58.4 x 45.7 x 10.1 cm); and XL, 27 x 16.5 x 4 inches (68.6 x 41.9 x 10.1 cm).
- Fabric is very easy to maintain and clean.
- Extremely inexpensive.
- Compresses neatly into the storage pocket.
- Might be a little voluminous for some.
Aeris Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow Kit
The Aeris Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow Kit was designed especially for all the light sleepers out there. It might be one of the more expensive options amongst pillows, but it does come with a whole suite of travel accessories. These include a pair of foam earplugs, a silky, soft sleep mask, carrying pouch, and a removable velour cover.
The U-shaped Aeris pillow boasts a ventilated, pliable memory foam insert that beautifully molds to your neck’s contours. The pillow folds and packs down to a tiny size within the carrying pouch and is an excellent option for traveling light. What’s more, the velour cover has an inbuilt zipper allowing users to remove the memory foam insert whenever they want. Plus, the cover is machine-washable, and it doesn’t lose its luxurious feel post numerous washes. If that wasn’t enough, the pillow even has a velcro strap so that you can attach it easily to any kind and size of carryon.
Dimensions: 10.9 x 10.4 x 4.4 inches (27.7 x 26.4 x 11.1 cm)
- It comes with a free lifetime replacement guarantee.
- It offers excellent neck support.
- There’s a whole host of restful accessories that come along with the pillow.
Langria U-Shape Neck Pillow
This neck pillow from Langria is a new take on the traditional U-shaped form of pillows. Boasting an ergonomic contour and shape, the Langria neck pillow betters both shoulder and neck support.
This bright and bold pillow is available in a riot of eye-pleasing colors. It features memory foam that adapts to your position while lending maximum comfort. A nifty adjustable strap is excellent for shifting the pillow’s position as you move. The cover absorbs moisture and sweat to ensure continual comfort during a long haul flight. Moreover, a hidden zipper allows the cover to be removable and prevent sleep disruptions of any kind. Thus, the pillow can easily be bound into a tight roll for easy portability. A buckle at the back allows the pillow to be attached to your carryon easily as well.
Dimensions: 9.5 x 9 x 4.7 inches (24 x 23 x 12 cm)
- Ergonomic design and shape.
- The cover is moisture and sweat-absorbing and removable.
- The strap is adjustable for customized comfort.
- Size might seem a little petite to some people.
Huzi Infinity Arm Pillow
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line travel pillow, go in for the Huzi Infinity Arm Pillow. This high-quality travel pillow is the first of its kind Mobius-shaped pillow that caters to literally any and all sleeping positions.
You’ll find that the Huzi Infinity Arm Pillow is very different from the other pillows on this list as it is designed to lend you both arm and neck support. Since it features a longer length, it can be double-wrapped around one’s neck for maximum support. In fact, it is much like sleeping with a blanket. What makes the pillow all the better is that it is breathable and light at the same time. The high-quality bamboo fabric that makes the pillow so airy is also anti-bacterial and machine-washable as well, so germs are kept well at bay. Plus, it comes in a bevy of delightful color options like pink, tan, navy, and more.
One of the hidden best aspects of the Huzi Infinity Pillow is that due to its design, it also keeps the low buzzing aircraft noise and light at bay, allowing you to sleep peacefully. What more could one want?
Dimensions: 10 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches (25.4 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm)
- Bamboo fabric is soft, anti-bacterial, and washable in the machine.
- Arm support is unique and one-of-a-kind.
- It doesn’t come with a travel cover/bag.
Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow
For the fashion-conscious junta, there’s no travel pillow as fashionable as the hooded inflatable neck pillow from Sunany. The avant-garde pillow-cum-garment features an exciting and beautiful design with a cool detachable hood too!
The Sunany inflatable pillow is very lightweight. It is fitted with flanks on the sides that prevent the neck and head from tilting too much. A flat back helps ensure that both the back and head don’t fee too much pressure. An adjustable velcro helps keep the head and the neck in positions that are most ideal for you. The travel pillow can also easily be attached to any kind of carryon for ease of handling. Moreover, a velvet cover that is machine washable as well as soft to touch is easy to stow away the pillow into.
However, one of the best-looking aspects of this Sunany pillow is that it comes with a fancy attached hood/hat. It allows you to stay comfy even when the cold air of the air-conditioning is directed towards your face or head. What’s more, it can be detached and repositioned for conveniently shielding your face from light while you sleep. So, if you’re getting onto a long-haul flight, one of the must-have accessories along with you should definitely be the Sunany pillow.
Dimensions: 6.9 x 5.1 x 2.9 inches (17.5 x 13 x 7.4 cm)
- Highly portable and lightweight.
- Easy to clean.
- Support could deflate at times.