Best Travel Pillows: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
Most people can agree long flights are no fun— but long trips without a high-quality travel pillow are even worse. Sure, you can try contorting your body to get comfortable enough to sleep, but nodding off on a plane is hard enough on its own. Plus, trying to get good sleep without a good pillow can result in headaches, a stiff neck, and overall discomfort.
In this guide, we discuss the best travel pillows to help you get sound sleep on your next red-eye.
Best Travel Pillows
|Trtl Neck Pillow||Features an innovative scarf-like design and offers scientifically proven neck support.||$29.99|
|Travelrest® Nest™ Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow||The Nest™ has an ergonomic design and is machine-washable.||$39.95|
|Huzi Infinity Pillow||The Infinity Pillow has a versatile design to be comfortable for all sleepers.||$39|
|Cabeau Evolution S3® Memory Foam Travel Pillow||Designed to be the "world's best engineered travel pillow."||$39.95|
|J-Pillow Chin and Neck Travel Pillow||Featured as the British Invention of the Year and offers exceptional head, chin, and neck support.||$29.95|
|AirComfy Inflatable Daydreamer Travel Neck Pillow||Features a built-in pump for easy inflation and is convenient to store.||$21.95|
|Bcozzy Chin and Neck Supporting Travel Pillow||Wraps around your neck to offer you sold support from all angles.||$29.97|
|Cloudz Microbead Cool Gel & Bamboo Travel Neck Pillow||Our budget-friendly recommendation. Features cooling gels to help you sleep comfortably.||$15.25|
|Therm-a-Rest® Compressible Travel Pillow||Perfect for camping and comes in a number of fun colors and patterns.||$24.95-34.95|
|AERIS Travel Pillow||Comes with complementary ear plugs and eye mask.||$24.90|
Trtl’s travel pillow is one of our favorites because it has an entirely different design than most wrap-style pillows and offers scientifically proven ergonomic neck support.
Trtl is designed to hold your head upright in a better position than most standard travel pillows. It’s lightweight, only weighing half a pound, and easy to store.
To use it, wrap the Trtl pillow around your neck as you would a scarf, so it supports your head from all angles. Its internal structure stretches to create a hammock-like effect, allowing your head to rest without drooping too low.
The Trtl pillow features super-soft micro-fleece and a breathable mesh lining to keep you warm but not too warm. It’s also machine washable for convenient cleaning. You can buy the Trtl travel pillow from their website or Amazon, and it’s available in grey, black, red, and pink.
Travelrest® makes several travel pillows, but we like their Nest™ pillow because it has a patented ergonomic design and comes with a 2-year warranty.
Travelrest®’s Nest™ pillow looks a lot like a standard U-shaped travel pillow, but it has a velcro strap that allows you to wrap and secure the pillow around your neck for all-around cushioning. It also has a divet in the top to fit snugly against most headrests.
The Nest™ pillow features a soft velour cover and thermo-sensitive, contouring memory foam inside. The foam inside molds perfectly to your neck to promote neutral alignment and prevents disruptive neck movements.
We recommend memory foam pillows to those with chronic neck pain because memory foam alleviates pressure points, preventing new pains from forming, and Travelrest®’s memory foam pillows are some of the best.
For convenient transport, the Nest™ pillow can be compressed down to only a fourth of its original size and zipped away in its complementary drawstring “stuff sack.” This pillow is easy to wash, too, as the cover can be easily unzipped and thrown in the washer and dryer.
Remember infinity scarves? People loved them because they were versatile and easy to use. Huzi expanded upon this well-liked concept to create a game-changing travel pillow.
Huzi’s Infinity Pillow wraps around your neck to offer cozy comfort, much like a scarf would. Its Mobius shape allows you to adjust it in a number of ways, making it compatible with most sleep habits. It features super-soft, breathable bamboo fabric and microfiber filling to keep you at a comfortable temperature.
The Infinity Pillow is naturally antibacterial, helping you fight the germs associated with public travel, and machine washable for easy cleaning. It’s available in pink, navy blue, burgundy, grey, and bright green.
You can purchase the Infinity Pillow on Amazon.
Cabeau makes a handful of travel pillows, but their newest and most recommended model is their Evolution S3®. Cabeau claims this pillow is the “world’s best engineered travel pillow.”
While we’re fans of the Cabeau pillow pillow, we like to think there isn’t one “best” pillow for all sleepers. However, if you’re a back sleeper or deal with chronic pain, these will likely feel the most comfortable for you.
Cabeau’s Evolution S3® is a U-shaped travel pillow. It has straps at the bottom to hold the two ends together around your neck, and straps on the top to secure the pillow to your headrest.
Because this pillow straps to your headrest, it prevents your head from dropping forward and keeps your airways open. It also has raised sides to prevent your head from bobbing back and forth with outside movement. Its very thin back offers cushion for your neck and shoulder muscles, allowing you to relax.
Their pillow features contouring memory foam and a moisture-wicking cover for cushioning and cool comfort. The cover is machine washable, too, and comes with a compact carrying case.
Cabeau offers a limited manufacturer’s warranty and a “No Neck Pain Guarantee” with each of their pillows. Their warranty covers material or workmanship defects, while their pain guarantee allows you to return the pillow for a full refund if you ever experience any pain while using it.
The J-Pillow is perfect for sleepers sitting upright and offers head, chin, and neck support with its unique shape. It wraps around one side of your neck to fill the gap between your head and shoulders and give your neck cushioning support.
The J-Pillow is designed to help your neck muscles relax so you can fall asleep easier and get more undisturbed rest. Its shape also prevents your head from bobbing by keeping your neck stabilized.
Though this pillow doesn’t compress down, it includes a convenient snap-loop fastener so you can easily attach it to your luggage. It features a soft polyester cover and supportive filling. The J-Pillow is also machine washable for easy cleaning.
You can find the J-Pillow exclusively on Amazon.
We like AirComfy’s Inflatable Daydreamer Travel Neck Pillow because it has a built-in pump which inflates the pillow in less than a minute. The Inflatable Daydreamer Neck Pillow is a U-shape but has a more ergonomic design to offer better neck support. The back “U” of the pillow has extra cushioning, allowing your head to rest comfortably straight up without falling too far backward.
AirComfy’s travel pillow has an ultra-soft velvet cover that can be easily removed and thrown in the washing machine. It also comes with a convenient Packsack for easy transport.
You can buy the AirComfy Daydreamer on Amazon, and it comes in dark blue, purple, pink, and grey color options. As far as we can see, the AirComfy pillow does not come with a warranty or sleep trial, but Amazon does offer free returns with the product.
The Bcozzy Chin and Neck Supporting Travel Pillow wraps around your neck to keep your head supported from all angles.
It offers extra support for your chin to prevent your head from falling forward while you sleep, and its wrap-style design keeps your neck in place. It has a thinner back to allow your head to rest back more naturally, preventing stiffness or soreness.
Bcozzy stuffs their pillow with lightweight Hollow Conjugated Siliconized Polyester Fiber. The cover of their pillow is polyester, too. Plus, their pillow can go in the washer and dryer for easy cleaning.
The Bcozzy pillow is available exclusively on Amazon and comes in black, pink, navy, red, grey, purple, and apple-green.
The Cloudz Microbead Cool Gel & Bamboo Travel Neck Pillow is one of our more budget-friendly options, sold for only $15 on Amazon. It has a straightforward U-shape design and comes in five fun colors: blue, black, pink, grey, and camouflage.
The Cloudz travel pillow has a soft-to-the-touch cover with mesh lining on one side to prevent heat retention. Cloudz also infuses cooling gels directly below the cover of their pillow to help combat body heat.
Their cover is part polyester part spandex, and the inside filling is 100% polystyrene beads. Cloudz’s pillow conforms to your neck and offers sturdy support without crunching down like other microbead pillows.
Therm-a-Rest’s Compressible Travel Pillow is the only rectangle travel pillow on our list and is better suited for camping and not so much for sleeping sitting up. These pillows are also great for people who like to avoid hotel pillows and want to bring a clean bed pillow from home on trips.
As their name suggests, these pillows compress to a quarter of their size so they can be easily thrown in with your luggage. They come in small, medium, large, and extra large size options and seven different color and pattern options, including blue heather, cardinal, denim, gray, lichen, moon, and pistachio.
Therm-a-Rest’s travel pillow features a brushed polyester cover and shredded urethane foam filling. We’re fans of their brand because they offer a lifetime warranty with their pillows, backing their quality and protecting your investment.
You can find these pillows on Therm-a-Rest’s website, Amazon, or at most places you can buy camping gear, such as Cabela’s.
The last pillow on our list is the AERIS Travel Pillow, a U-shaped pillow that comes with earplugs and an eye mask to help you get completely undisturbed sleep. It has an incredibly soft velour cover that’s also removable for easy washing, and the inside is stuffed with solid memory foam.
The AERIS Travel Pillow offers contouring comfort and is great for sleepers with neck pains. It provides enough support to keep your neck stabilized. Plus, it’s easily moldable so it can be compressed down to fit in its corresponding travel bag.
You can buy the AERIS Travel Pillow on Amazon. While it doesn’t have a sleep trial, Amazon still allows returns should you find the AERIS isn’t comfortable for you.
What is a Travel Pillow?
As you can imagine, travel pillows are smaller than standard bed pillows and are easy to take on-the-go. They’re perfect for long flights, road trips, camping, and more.
Because we’re not accustomed to sleeping in a vertical position, travel pillows are designed to help us get comfortable dozing off straight-up in a chair. Travel pillows can prevent uncomfortable neck aches and help you catch up on sleep to pass the time.
Traditional travel pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes to offer different levels of comfort and support. However, they fall into two main categories: inflatable and non-inflatable. We then have hundreds of different options amongst those two categories.
Inflatable pillows take portability a step further and can completely deflate to fit into your carry-on. However, these are filled solely with air and may not be as comfortable as non-inflatable counterparts. Plus, you have to blow them up manually. While this may be inconvenient for some, these pillows are perfect for people who are concerned about luggage space.
Non-inflatable pillows vary widely. Some are stuffed with foams, others with microbeads, and they’re available in different styles. These aren’t as easy to transport; however, they usually offer better cushioning comfort.
Types of Travel Pillows
There are several different types of travel pillows because what’s comfortable for one person may not work for another. We all have varying sleep needs, so it’s best to consider your personal preferences when choosing the best travel pillow for your next trip.
Whether you’re choosing an inflatable or non-inflatable travel pillow, they’re available in the following shapes:
When you hear the term “travel pillow,” chances are your mind goes to the U-shaped cushions you can pick up in nearly any airport terminal. These offer gentle comfort for your neck, with the primary complaints about them mentioning their lack of chin support.
In an effort to innovate the standard U-shaped travel pillow, the J-shape was born. These were created to offer better chin support and prevent your head from drooping uncomfortably.
While many believe the J-shape travel pillow is significantly more comfortable, it’s a lot harder to transport unless it’s inflatable.
A wrap-style travel pillow looks a lot like a scarf. As the name implies, these wrap around your neck to offer all-around support. They are excellent at preventing your head from tilting side to side or bobbing up and down as a result of turbulence or a bump on the road.
Wrap-style travel pillows are usually the easiest to transport because they fold right up to fit in a back pocket or purse.
Hourglass travel pillows look like an hourglass turned on its side— they have two wider ends and a thin middle. They usually come with a strap or Velcro to attach to your headrest and offer a cushion for both your head and neck.
In comparison to other travel pillows, these are the most versatile. When you’re not on the road, these can double as comfortable knee pillows. Plus, for people with back pain, they can be placed below the small of your back for extra cushioning support.
Rectangular travel pillows are the least popular because they can’t hold your neck upright. These are very similar to the bed pillows you use at home but much smaller.
Many airlines hand out rectangular travel pillows to their passengers on long-haul flights as they’re relatively inexpensive, but they’re not the most comfortable. These get placed behind your head to offer a bit of cushion.
What to Consider When Buying a Travel Pillow
A good travel pillow offers you comfortable neck support, is easy to stow away, convenient to clean, and comes with reliable warranty coverage.
In this section, we discuss the factors to think about when choosing the most suitable travel pillow to meet your sleep needs.
It can be tricky finding the perfect sized travel pillow. On one hand, you want something that’s going to be comfortable, but at the same time, you need something that will be easy to transport.
If saving space is a major concern for you, you’re almost always better going with an inflatable travel pillow as they’re the easiest to compress and tuck away. However, if you can accommodate a non-inflatable travel pillow, we recommend choosing those over inflatable options due to their difference in comfort.
Above all, you should make sure your travel pillow fits your body type. A travel pillow is no good if it’s not comfortable for your shoulders and neck. While it may seem obvious to point out, all of us have varying shoulder and head sizes. Make sure the dimensions of your next pillow are compatible with your upper body.
Like most public transportation, planes are filthy. They’re a breeding ground for germs, which you would expect of a vessel designed to transport large numbers of people far and wide.
To prevent yourself from catching a cold, or other germs, always wash your travel pillow between trips.
For the most convenient care, choose a pillow that’s machine washable. Choosing something that requires more careful cleaning can be tedious, and you’ll likely be less inclined to wash your pillow as often as you should.
Save yourself the hassle of spot or dry cleaning travel pillows and look for one that can be easily thrown in your washing machine and dryer for a quick refresher.
Your Preferred Sleeping Position
Your preference for stomach, back, or side sleeping doesn’t matter much when you’re sitting straight-up in an uncomfortable chair. However, your at-home sleeping habits still contribute to your decision when choosing the most comfortable travel pillow.
Your sleeping position determines how your head typically rests at night. Back sleepers are used to snoozing with their head flat back on a pillow, side sleepers usually sleep with the side of their face on the pillow, and stomach sleepers typically turn their necks to either side to make it easier to breathe.
Knowing that, we can safely assume the following about different sleep preferences:
- Back sleepers will feel more comfortable with a pillow that allows them to rest looking straight forward, such as a U-shaped or hourglass pillow.
- Side sleepers will likely prefer a wrap-style or J-shaped pillow that lets them rest the side of their head on the pillow.
- Stomach sleepers should be most comfortable in wrap-style travel pillows as they’re best for accommodating people who tilt their necks or head while they sleep.
More often than not, travel pillows do not come with a warranty. Instead, many come with moneyback guarantees or return policies that let you try them out and return them if you’re dissatisfied.
However, during our search for high-quality travel pillows, we found the average warranty for travel pillows, if a company has one, is around two years.
Now, because your travel pillow likely won’t come with a warranty, you must buy one with high-quality materials and craftsmanship to get your money’s worth. While travel pillows aren’t as expensive as regular bed pillows, they can still be costly.
Tips for Getting Good Sleep While Traveling
Beyond investing in a high-quality travel pillow, there are other things you can do during your trip to help you get good sleep and prevent jet lag.
- Buy a comfortable eye mask and set of earplugs. Nothing complements a travel pillow better than an eye mask and earplugs— this trio of sleep-promoting accessories can help you completely block out any outside noises, lights, and distractions to doze off undisturbed. If you’re not a fan of earplugs, noise-canceling headphones work just as well.
- Try to keep your spine aligned. It may seem unnatural to focus on your posture while you’re trying to fall asleep, but keeping your spine in a neutral position allows your muscles to relax and prevents pain build-up at your pressure points.
- Drink plenty of water. It’s always important to stay hydrated, but it’s especially important when you’re on the road. Traveling can be stressful, and drinking plenty of water helps prevent headaches, fatigue, cranky moods, and more.
- Pack the best foods for sleep. Most of us like to grab a bite to eat before boarding a plane or heading out on a long road trip. However, if you’re not smart about it, your pre-trip meal can hinder your potential shut-eye. Skip greasy, heavy food, and choose foods that will help you sleep better, such as almonds, bananas, and whole grains.
- Wear comfortable clothes. You wouldn’t put on your tightest pair of jeans to go on a road trip, would you? Set yourself up for comfort by dressing in your favorite clothes for lounging around. Loose-fitting clothing helps promote healthy blood flow, too— which is necessary when you’re sitting for long periods. Additionally, don’t forget to wear layers. Airplanes are usually cold, and a sweater or a good travel blanket can help mitigate discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best travel pillow for long flights?
There’s no one travel pillow that’s right for everyone. An inflatable travel pillow might be the right option for you if you need to save on space; if not, you might want to choose a pillow that’s going to be more comfortable. A side sleeper might want a wrap pillow, while a back sleeper might want an hourglass pillow. Finding the right travel pillow for you often requires you to consider what size and shape you want, and how much care you want to invest in the pillow.
Are memory foam travel pillows good?
Memory foam can help you sleep better while you travel, just as the material can help you sleep better at home in bed. Memory foam conforms to your head and neck, supporting you without adding pressure. However, you might not be able to machine wash your memory foam pillow, which can make keeping the pillow clean much more difficult.
Do neck pillows help you sleep on a plane?
A neck pillow can help some travelers catch some much needed rest. Others may find that a neck pillow pushes their head too far forward for them to feel comfortable. For optimal comfort, you should look for a travel pillow that lets you mimic how you would sleep at home in bed.
Do pillows count as a carry-on?
Pillows normally don’t count toward the usual limit of one carry-on and one personal item. It’s a smart idea to check with an airline or travel service before you fly, however. Some airlines may impose size regulations on pillows.
What should I look for when buying pillows?
When you’re choosing a new pillow, you want to consider its materials, loft, firmness, and your sleeping position. Back sleepers often prefer a U-shaped or hourglass travel pillow, while side and stomach sleepers might want to look at wrap pillows. Side sleepers may also enjoy a J-shaped travel pillow.
It’s also a good idea to think about how you would clean and take care of your new pillow—many customers love a pillow that they can just throw in the washing machine.
Did You Find Your Next Travel Pillow?
Traveling can be a burden, especially if you do it often. A good travel pillow is a perfect companion for long trips, helping you get peaceful, sound sleep and make the most of some of the most comfortable mattresses found in hotels and similar places.
We hope our guide has steered you towards the most comfortable travel pillow for your sleep needs. However, if you still need more information, read our other guides for better sleep tips and advice on how to choose the best sleep accessories for you.