Best Travel Pillows


Why are plane seats always so damned uncomfortable, especially when you’re trying to have a sleep?! You’d think they’d be better designed by now, but NO!
The advent of the little ‘wings’ to the sides of the headrest are helpful but I wish they were bigger and more stable. Opting for the window seat so you can prop yourself against the side of the plane is an improvement but, even when I ball up a soft hoodie to use as a pillow, the vibration of the plane is just too irritating for me.

In recent years travel pillows have become increasingly popular. Until recently I had an inflatable one and I always used it on long haul flights between NZ and the USA or Europe. At the right level of inflation it was reasonably comfortble and of course, when it was deflated, it had the advantage of taking up virtually no space. Unfortunately I mislaid it somewhere last year and haven’t been able to find it and boy have I missed it.
My mother purchased a few new travel neck pillows on sale recently and I nabbed one to try. I have to say I was a little disappointed. I didn’t find it very ergonomic or comfortable – I couldn’t seem to get the micro beads to make a thickness behind my neck that I was comfortable with. As with many pillows for travel it pushes my head forward. It is also very bulky to carry around. I always fly carry on when possible so it would be a nuisance to lug this thing around and I haven’t bothered since.

Trtl Pillow – Scientifically Proven Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow

Now this head support is a completely different concept from the traditional U shaped travel pillow. It’s essentially a light fleece scarf with a removable plastic support within it. Sounds ridiculous but apparently it works well. It supports the head without forcing it forward which a pillow behind the neck does. It can only be used in a sitting position i.e it’s not multi-purpose, but that doesn’t bother me. The scarf is machine washable (once the plastic insert is removed) but beware it does have Velcro so you have to be a little careful what you wash it with. The only thing that puts me off it it’s that I think I’d find it too hot. Also you can use the Trtl on your left or right side, but you have to remove the plastic insert and turn it around to do so. I think I would find this a nuisance. In addition to this the Trtl would dislodge over ear headphones on whatever side you’re using it.

Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow – The Best Travel Pillow with 360 Head

This looks to be one of the best U shaped travel pillows out there. It is made of memory foam and and has a removable, washable velour cover. The part of the pillow that goes around the back of the neck is flat and it is this design feature that makes it a winner, as it does push your head forward like most pillows do. It has toggles at the front to secure it in place, and a pouch to hold a iPod or smaller cell phone.
It has a carry bag and can be reduced to the size of about 7 inches long by 4 inches diameter.
It fits people of virtually all neck lengths but probably only tall people can wear over ear headphones at the same time. Some reviewers find this pillow on the warm side as it does give almost 360 degree support and is therefore quite snug around the entire neck.

J-pillow Travel Pillow – Head, Chin and Neck Support

This unusual shaped travel pillow is a perfect option for window seats on a plane but not quite as good if you have a center or aisle seat, as in the latter positions some people reported that their he’d felt less supported. It works better if it has the side of the plane to brace against. If you want to change it to a different side you need to pick it up and readjust it which is a minor nuisance. It has an odd shape and doesn’t reduce in size for transport. Most people attach it to their carry-on but the strap that clips together. It comes in a good range of colors and the whole thing is machine washable and can go in the dryer.

Travelmate Memory Foam Neck Pillow

This is a good option and at a cheaper price than the others above. It is made of memory foam and has a removable washable velour cover. MOst reviewers find it very comfortable but a few people find the foam a little too soft and therefore unsupportive. The cover has an elastic strap so you can slip it over your carry-on suitcase handle. It is a U-shaped pillow but it has an opening at the back where you can adjust the thickness by removing a wedge of foam if you prefer. It doesn’t hahave a Memory foam always has a bit of an industrial smell about it so it is best to give the pillow an airing before first use.

Push-Button Inflatable Daydreamer Neck Pillow with Airplane Travel Packsack and Luggage Clip

This is arguably the best inflatable travel neck pillow available. It has a push button inflation valve on one of it’s side wings Which allows you to adjust the firmness while you’re using it. When deflated and rolled into its packsack it measures about 4×6 inches so it’s much more portable than most foam or …. pillows. The contoured arched supports at the back support the head in a more upright position.

Aeris Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow with Sleep Mask, Earplugs, Carry Bag, Adjustable Toggles and Velour Cover

This memory foam travel pillow gets 4.5 stars on Amazon reviews but I’ve got to wonder if the positive reviews are all genuine. It is a U-shaped and so inherently has the issue of pushing the head forward for some people. A number of people found it a bit firm. The main complaint was that it is very hard to stuff back in it’s compression sack which some also found a bit flimsy. If you can fit it in the sack it measures about 10×7 inches. It has toggles at the front that snap together and hold it around your neck.

Travelrest – Ultimate Travel Pillow / Neck Pillow

Perhaps this options is the best compromise for good comfort and compact storage. This is an inflatable travel pillow which rolls up for easy storage. I has a design which doesn’t involve anything going around the back of the neck which could push it forward, causing discomfort. You can attach the top of the pillow to the headrest of the plane/car seat but most people prefer the wraparound method when you join the ends of the pillow by a cord and wear it a bit like a shoulder bag. It is easy to inflate with a few breaths and you can release air via a push valve while wearing it. To change sides you need to unclasp the cord from the bottom end of the pillow, adjust the the pillow to the other side and reconnect.

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