Traveling almost always means sleeping in less-than-normal conditions—some may be large, comfy hotel beds, others may be economy-class, over-crowded plane seats. Either way, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some neck or back pain on your trip, which could prevent you from doing what you set out to accomplish: live it up on vacation, win big on a business trip, or enjoy that special event.
Quick Look At Our Top 7 Picks
Luckily, there are endless travel pillows available that make even the least comfortable sleep settings comfortable. With all of the unique and specialized designs on the travel pillow market, you are guaranteed to find one that meets all your needs and expectations.
Travel Pillows— Key Considerations
- 1 Travel Pillows— Key Considerations
- 2 What Are the Top Seven Travel Pillows?
- 3 Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow
- 4 TravelMate Memory Foam Neck Pillow
- 5 BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow
- 6 Everlasting Comfort 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow
- 7 Trtl Pillow
- 8 J Pillow
- 9 Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow
- 10 Travel Pillows— Final Thoughts
Materials: Like regular pillows, there are a variety of materials used to construct travel pillows. Most often, travel pillows are filled with memory foam or air, but sometimes you will find travel pillows filled with polyester fiber or microbeads. Each material has advantages and disadvantages.
First, air-filled travel pillows always come with the risk of leaks or punctures that could cause the pillow to flatten and become unusable, but they are also easy to compress and pack. Next, memory foam easily conforms and adapts to your body and unusual sleep positions or locations, but they can sometimes be bulky. Polyester fiber is a standard type of pillow fill, and it is very durable, easy to wash, and dries quickly. Lastly, microbeads can adapt to unusual sleep positions or locations, as well as the shape of your body, plus they are highly resistant to dust and allergens.
Usually, the outside material on travel pillows is either velour, a velvet-like fabric, nylon, or spandex. The velour and velvet-like fabrics are more comfortable and of a higher quality. Nylon and spandex will work just fine and they are less expensive, but they are generally lower in quality. When deciding which filling and outer fabrics you would prefer, it’s a good idea to find a combination of materials that are machine washable.
Design: In the past, all travel pillows had the traditional, u-shaped design, but now there are numerous specialized and unique designs to fit any sleep situation and body. Of course, there are still a multitude of u-shaped travel pillows out there, but you will also see travel pillows that fit like a scarf, fit around the whole body, or are shaped like a regular bed pillow.
Another design element to consider is how the pillow will stay in place. Many u-shaped travel pillows now have some way to fasten the two ends together near you chin, and usually this is done with a drawstring mechanism. However, you may find some designs that loosely wrap around the neck to keep it in place, or the pillow is malleable to bend and adjust how you see fit. But, no matter what shape or design you choose, the best is the one that is most in line with your preferences.
Size: An unavoidable part of traveling is packing, and it always seems as if there’s never enough space to fit everything you need. Plus, no one needs another item to carry, and packing light is even more critical now that we are in the era of paying outrageous fees for luggage on many airlines. So, it may seem like leaving the bulky pillow behind is the smartest choice, but it doesn’t have to be. The travel pillow industry has addressed this problem by making their pillows easier to pack. For example, air-filled travel pillows can take up little to no space when deflated. Similarly, the memory foam travel pillows are now built to be compressed to a fraction of their normal size and can fit into a neat carrying case.
One last point to consider about the size of your pillow is how much space it will take up when using it. Oftentimes, public forms of transportation allow for little room between you and your neighbor, so you may want to find a travel pillow that doesn’t intrude on their space, too.
Comfort: Comfort is most likely the number 1 reason you are looking for a travel pillow—no one likes being tired and in pain from sleeping in uncomfortable positions when away from home. Because of this, you will want to look for a travel pillow that properly supports your head, neck, and chin comfortably for several hours without needing to wake up and make adjustments. It’s also a good idea to think about how well the pillow will hold up to the movements of the plane, train, car, or bus you are traveling in.
Of course, everyone’s opinions differ on what is most comfortable, so consider how firm, soft, cool, and supportive you want your travel pillow to be. If you find the correct combination of these qualities, you can prevent neck and back aches, numbness in your limbs, or headaches on your trip.
Extras & Accessories: Some travel pillow manufacturers are taking their products one step further and including other sleep accessories or features that could enhance your on-the-go sleep. Some accessories you may see as part of a package with a travel pillow are sleep masks, ear plugs, blankets, air pumps, or compression carrying bags. In some cases, travel pillows are equipped with a pouch to hold items you want to keep close to you when sleeping in public. If these items and extras would be helpful to you, there are many travel pillow options that offer them, but keep in mind that they could take up some more space in your luggage.
What Are the Top Seven Travel Pillows?
Here is a summary of the top seven travel pillows, each offering a unique combination of desirable features. All of these products are highly rated, and sleep tested.
Travel Pillows— Final Thoughts
While traveling can be a life-changing experience, it can also be uncomfortable and stressful, so you need your sleep. Plus, sleep makes the unpleasant part of traveling go faster, so you can get right to the good stuff without pain or discomfort. Luckily, travel pillows can be just the tool you need to get some restful sleep, even when you’re in a seated position with fluorescent lights and the noise from strangers around you, and they are reasonably priced. So, there are endless travel pillow options available, and the best one is the one that allows you to get the comfortable rest you need when you’re away from home.