Whether you are traveling by train, plane, or automobile, one of the biggest challenges is staying comfortable. If you are looking to catch some shut-eye on nearly any mode of transportation, you are automatically looking at a less-than-ideal experience. Whether you are in the middle seat of a cross-country flight or praying you don’t develop a bruise as your forehead rattles against a bus window, there are some minor steps you can take to make your travels more bearable.
My personal favorite is the travel pillow. It keeps your neck in a good position and prevents aches. It doesn’t have to take up too much luggage space either. Travel pillows come in all shapes and sizes. Below are our picks of the best travel pillows available. We categorized them by neck pillows, rectangular pillows, and pillows that don’t actually look like pillows.
Best Neck Pillows
This award-winning neck pillow advertises high-quality memory foam and overall comfort for plane travelers. It is taller than most neck pillows, but that means you won’t have to drop your head too far to benefit from support. This pillow is large but comes with a drawstring tie that allows you to hold it in place around your neck or around a piece of luggage. The Cabeau pillow also packs down to a quarter of its size. It comes with a travel back that you can pack it into before you throw it in your luggage. This pillow is the perfect marriage of comfort and pack-ability.
If you are looking for some serious neck support this is the pillow for you. Its base is the standard neck pillow u-shape, but it also has an extra protruding plushy section meant to cradle your head as you tilt to the side. It works really well for middle and aisle seats, making those classically hard-to-sleep in seats easier than ever. This pillow is also machine washable, which is a bonus for cleanliness. It may not be a space-saver, but it has got everything else we’re looking for in a travel pillow.
This pillow calls itself “the only travel pillow that stops the head from falling forward.” It is actually a complete circle, which automatically makes it stand out from its u-shaped counterparts. It is great for fidgety travelers who often have their head flop forward, back, and side-to-side. It is machine washable and comes with a snap-on strap, so even if you can’t fit it in your luggage, you can easily clip it to the outside of your bag.
The Best Rectangular Pillows
When it’s unfolded, this pillow’s dimensions are 12 x 16 x 4 inches, but when it’s packed into it’s carrying case, it is only 13 x 4 x 4 inches. The foam filling offers a comfortable sleep. At only 7oz, it is a great lightweight, space-saving creature comfort to find a spot for in your luggage. It comes in some cute colors, which beyond being fun helps you to easily identify which pillow belongs to you. It’s got high reviews on Amazon.
This pillow is fantastic for the space-conscious among us. When fully inflated, the dimensions are 15 x 12 x 4.5 inches, but when it’s deflated and backed in it’s carrying case, it’s just slightly larger than a baseball. That makes this pillow great for either camping or carry-on luggage. It is also inexpensive, which is great for anyone trying to decide which type of travel pillow will be right for them.
If you like the idea of an inflatable pillow but are not keen on blowing one up yourself, then the QILOVE self-inflating pillow is right for you. This way, you get the packing power and the adjustability of an air-filled pillow, without losing your breath to fill it up. This pillow comes with a compact carrying case and choice of three colors. It is economical, which is always a bonus.
Best Travel Pillows (That Don’t Look Like Pillows)
This “pillow” is actually a wrap scarf with a hidden inner rib that contours to your neck, and provides support while you sleep. Since it is primarily made of fabric and not stuffing, it takes up much less space than a more traditional travel pillow. It may look kind of like a neck brace, but it provides fantastic support. This pillow also gets bonus points for keeping your neck warm while you slumber!
Unlike the standard u-shaped neck pillows, this guy sits on one shoulder and extends all the way down on to your lap, the idea being that you tilt your head to the side and hug the pillow to sleep. The pillow itself is inflatable and comes with a plush cover for maximum coziness. It may look a little strange, but if you are looking for a traveling sleep experience that most closely mirrors sleeping on your side at home, then this is the right purchase for you.
When inflated, this pillow vaguely resembles a life preserver. The idea is that you pull down your tray table, lean forward, and place your head on the top of the cushion, with your arms resting on either side. I have seen people use these on flights before. While they may look a little strange, they practically guarantee a good night’s sleep. The fact that it is inflatable helps since it doesn’t take up too much travel space.
Bon voyage and sweet dreams!