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The Best Travel Pillow

OnlyTree Black
This article was written by Staying Alive Crew Published at 06:40 pm
Travel Pillows

Many of you may be gifted sleepers, who can snooze anywhere, sitting, lying down, or amongst all the commotion that comes with traveling. 

Others may have trouble getting some quality shut-eye, whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter on long flights or a sporadic traveler taking regular car rides.  

Notwithstanding if you’re traveling in an airplane seat, clocking miles in the middle seat of a car, or on backpacking trips in the wilderness you want to fall asleep with maximum comfort. 

You find yourself entering the confusing world of travel accessories and travel pillows. There are different sizes and styles, ranging from the traditional U shape to the more unique shape of the J-Shape style, to the wrap styles. 

How do you navigate which travel pillows provide excellent support, are space-saving for your overnight bag, and are the right aid in falling asleep comfortably?

We compiled a list of the best travel pillow on the market. So board your next long flight with more support for your sleep position and get to your destination bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

Table of Contents

13 Best Travel Pillows in 2024

Travel Pillows Buying Guide

Whether your travels take you into the sky or on a highway, the list below is quite comprehensive and covers a broad spectrum of travel needs. 

We’ve taken the liberty of outlining some of the key attributes you may wish to take on board when looking to buy a travel pillow.

Travel Pillows

A travel pillow is a specially designed pillow to aid in sleeping while sitting up, both when traveling by plane, train, car, or bus. 

They are typically used in long journeys involving air travel. Some of the designs use inflatable pillows which make them easier to transport. 

Due to their design, they can be compactly folded and put in luggage or a backpack.

Benefits of Travel Pillows

There are numerous benefits to using travel pillows. Especially for plane travel, and during long-haul flights. 

Whether you fly now and then or you’re a frequent flyer, having the right neck and head support is key to preventing any neck, head, or shoulder strain. 

Travel pillows are not just essential for plane traveling, they can be a lifesaver during car travel. 

We all know that the headrests in cars’ primary function are to provide safety during an accident, but let’s be honest they can be darn right uncomfortable. 

Adding a travel pillow, especially during those long arduous drives will make a world of difference in comfort. 

For those of you who enjoy camping or backpacking, but seek the luxury of a soft pillow under your head, a travel pillow can be just the travel accessory providing comfort in the wild.

Features of Best Travel Pillows


You want to travel light, so the size of the pillow is important. You don’t want to be lugging something heavy around with you. 

If you’re flying you have the added consideration of carry-on luggage weight limit. You want a travel pillow that’s lightweight, easy to pack and carry.


These days travel pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Gone are the days of the simple travel pillow in a U shape. We’re in a world of choices.

  • U-Shape - The traditional travel pillow. It cradles around your neck, supporting the side and back part of your neck. If you move your neck to the right or left during sleep, you may need more neck support than a U-Shape travel pillow will provide.
  • J-Shape - A new entrant to the travel pillow market. It provides great chin support and props the head higher than traditional U-shape pillows. Its unique shape can take up space and make it awkward to pack.
  • Wrap - Imagine a pillow that wraps comfortingly around your neck like a scarf, providing great support for sleepers whose heads tend to tilt during sleep. Wrap styles are effortless and lightweight to pack and travel with.
  • Rectangular - Aesthetically these look more like the traditional sleeping pillows you would use in bed. The primary difference is they are compactly constructed for travel. A good pick for sleepers who tend to stay upright and don’t tilt forward or to the sides.
  • Hourglass - The hourglass pillow truly shines in its versatility of support and usage which extends to supporting your back or knees or even while you sleep in the comfort of a bed. If your main priority is a travel pillow for neck support this is not for you.


You want to travel with your travel headrest with ease, taking as little space as possible in your hand luggage. Nothing makes portability easier than having an inflatable travel pillow, which can be deflated when traveling. 

Many travel pillows come with convenient bags to carry and affix to the outside of your hand luggage. 

Another advantage of an inflatable pillow is you can adjust the loft of the travel pillow, permitting you to keep your neck upright.  

If you prefer a non-inflatable option then you may want to consider a wrap-style travel pillow. 


If you’re a frequent traveler, hopping from one destination to the other, you don’t want to be weighed down by a heavy travel pillow. 

You’re taking it with you for the comfort it provides, not a nuisance to carry. Look for a lightweight travel pillow.

Comfort & Support

Look for the right balance of support for your head and neck, but at the same time gives you the flexibility to move around as you sleep. 

The last thing you want is to be in a vice with your movements restricted.


The firmness of pillows is not often disclosed in detail. You can hazard a guess from the materials of the travel pillow of how firm or soft it is. 

Inflatable pillows can be firm or soft depending on whether they are fully inflated or not. Memory foam and polyfoam pillows provide both support and softness. 

Fiber-filled and microbead pillows have a softer, more squishy feel. 


You want to pay attention to the material composition, which determines how the travel pillow performs, how long it lasts, and most importantly the cost. 

The better the material, the more durable the pillow will be, and the higher the price will be.

  • Inflatable - The majority of inflatable pillows are made of polyurethane-based materials. To make them warmer and more durable, many have velvet or velour covers whice are also removable and can be washed.
  • Memory Foam - A memory foam travel pillow is the most popular material used for non-inflatable travel pillows. Typically travel pillows are made of firmer memory foam, ensuring greater support to the head, neck, and spine. Most come with removable covers for washing.
  • Polyfoam - Polyfoam is more breathable than your average memory foam due to its open cell structure. You want medium density to ensure your travel pillow remains more durable.
  • Microbeads - These travel pillows are filled with tiny polystyrene beads, which are U-shaped and light. The pillow changes shape to mold and provides neck support. They are not the most supportive material and not the most portable for travel.


There’s plenty of options for you bargain hunters starting around the $10 mark and going upwards to around $100 for those big spenders looking for the higher quality and more expensive options.

Machine Washable

To maintain the hygiene of your travel pillow, you want to make sure you buy one that has a removable cover that you can wash, or the travel pillow itself can be washed in the machine.

Warranty & Refunds

It’s not common, but some brands do offer warranties. Others may not offer warranties but may offer a money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

Travel Pillows FAQ

What is the best travel pillow for airplane travel?

A travel pillow is a must travel accessory, especially for those long-haul flights. 

It’s bad enough trying to cope with jet lag, having a good travel pillow can help you get some much-needed shut-eye as you cross time zones, getting off that plane feeling refreshed. 

Which pillow you select depends on the type of sleeper you are, how often you fly, and how long your flights are, and your budget. 

Can I use a travel pillow even if I have chronic neck and back problems?

It’s recommended to consult your primary care physician before purchasing any travel pillow. 

They will be in the best position to advise you on the ideal pillow shape, firmness, and material that will provide you with adequate support and be suitable for your condition.

Are travel pillows safe for toddlers and young children?

It’s not advised to use travel pillows for children under the age of 4 years old. As a parent, your primary goal when traveling with the little ones is to make sure they are safe and comfortable. 

Having your kid’s head and neck supported so that they can nod off peacefully is any parent’s dream come true to traveling smoothly. 

There are lots of travel pillow options out there for young children 4 years and above.

How long do travel neck pillows last?

This is important, especially if you travel frequently or travel for long durations. The last thing you want is to have to keep shelling out for a new travel pillow yearly. 

Decide what your budget is, and weigh this against travel pillows constructed from longer-lasting material.

How do I clean a travel pillow?

These days most travel pillows come with a removable clover or the pillow itself can be washed in a washing machine. 

Make sure you wash the pillow or pillow cover in cold water with a low spin setting, using a mild detergent.

Travel Pillows Sources

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