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The 12 Best Travel Pillows of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Sleep and relax comfortably on the go with these top travel pillows

best air travel pillows

In This Article

  • Our Top Picks
  • Other Pillows We Liked

Our Testing Process

  • Tips for Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Emily Johnson

Sitting upright for hours on end or sleeping on unfamiliar pillows can be incredibly uncomfortable, but a reliable travel pillow can make your trip a lot more tolerable. Whether embarking on a red-eye flight, going camping, or looking to get a good night's sleep in your hotel room, the best travel pillows will be comfy, supportive, and portable. 

We tested more than 40 travel pillows, looking at traits like comfort, durability, portability, and quality. We narrowed down the best options while using the accessory for road trips, long-haul flights, train rides, and even sleeping at home, making sure each option was comfortable for extended use. After catching some of the best Z's, we rounded up pillow choices for different types of travelers who are looking to get more rest on their future trips.

Best Overall

Infinity pillow travel pillow.

Infinity Pillow

The modular design of the pillow makes it easy to use to support the neck, chin, or back while sitting.

The cushioning is fairly soft, so the support isn't as stiff as memory foam.

Most travel pillows come in one shape and size, so we love that this one can contort in various ways to fit your needs. At nearly 40 inches long, the infinity design (yes, like the scarves worn in the early 2000s) can be wrapped once for less support or twice for the type of neck support found in traditional C-shaped pillows. We used the pillow during an all-day road trip and loved that we could wear it around the neck with a looser or tighter fit depending on how much neck support we wanted.

We also found that it's much easier to travel with the pillow since the closed ring shape makes it easy to wear around the neck instead of having to pack it away or risk it falling off. The bamboo fabric is extremely soft and breathable, so we never felt overheated or constricted, and the pillow is machine washable for easy upkeep after a trip. Our only note is that it's not a firm neck pillow like memory foam options, so it's not the most supportive if that's what you're looking for, but it still offers sufficient cushioning for keeping the neck upright. It also comes in a whopping 10 colors.

The Details: Bamboo, nylon | 39.3 x 6.6 inches | Machine washable

Travel + Leisure / Paige VandeWiele

Best With Seat Strap

Cabeau tne s3 travel pillow.

The seat strap system keeps the pillow in place to prevent it from slipping around or falling off.

It can feel stiff at first and takes some getting used to.

This soft and supportive travel pillow is the perfect accessory for long trips, whether you're in the car or in the air. The pillow itself can attach to any headrest with adjustable straps to prevent your head from sagging or falling into uncomfortable positions while sleeping. There's also an adjustable chin strap for added comfort and security. The pillow's exterior fabric is soft and cozy yet breathable so you don't feel too hot or constricted — though it can take some time to find your perfect position.

We also love that the pillow case is machine washable. We tested this pillow on a long international trip where it really got tossed around on planes, trains, and buses, so it felt great to wash the cover at the end of the trip, making it feel as good as new. Despite its fairly large size, the pillow is also quite portable as it rolls up into a compact carrying case that you can attach to a bag's exterior or slip into larger backpacks and totes.

The Details:  Polyester, microsuede, foam   | Machine washable | Carrying case included

Most Supportive

Ostrichpillow go neck pillow.

The pillow has an asymmetrical design that can accommodate neck, chin, and head support preferences.

It might warm your neck if you run hot while sleeping.

The Ostrich Pillow Go Neck Pillow feels like sleeping on a cloud. This travel pillow provided the perfect amount of neck support and comfort when we took it on a flight, allowing us to get more rest than usual. The plush memory foam filling and asymmetric design can be easily adjusted to support the neck, chin, or head with the taller or shorter sides. The materials appear high-quality and luxurious, and it is easy to roll the pillow up to fit inside its compact drawstring sack. The pillow held its shape after being in the bag for long periods of time, which leads us to believe that it will hold up well with prolonged use. The pillow cover is removable and machine washable, but we air dried it to ensure it didn’t shrink (and had no issues putting it back on the pillow). A must-have for those with higher budgets, this pillow allows for better sleep and more comfort on flights.

The Details: Viscosa, memory foam | 10.5 x 9.5 inches | Machine washable | Carrying case included

Travel + Leisure / Susan Brickell

Aeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow

It’s supportive and firm without feeling too stiff. 

This would be best for travelers who know they prefer a firm travel pillow.

We love the comfortable and supportive Aeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow for travelers that like a firmer neck pillow. The buckle strap adjusts accordingly to fit around your neck and offers 360-degree support on the chin, jaw, and back. We loved how you can lean back in the car or plane, and the back of the neck doesn't fall backward. In addition to having exceptional support, the Aeris travel pillow folds into a small ball and easily fits into the included circular carrying case that you can clip onto a backpack or suitcase without being a noticeable nuisance. The travel pillow also comes with earplugs and an eye mask, and features a frontal slip pocket that you can store them in. After a trip, you can unzip and remove the carrying case to machine wash it, although we recommend air drying it to prevent any possibility of shrinkage.

The Details: Velour, polyester, memory foam | 11.81 x 11.42 x 3.54 inches | Machine washable | Carrying case included

Travel + Leisure / Anna Popp

Pluto Pillow Pod

Pluto Pillow

It boasts a cozy hood and built-in eye mask for total darkness even on bright flights.

It's one of the pricer options on this list.

Like the black-out curtains of travel pillows, this option comes with a hood and an eye mask that shields your eyes from any light, which is incredibly useful when you're trying to get some shut-eye on a busy flight. It has a soft neck brace that wraps around the neck with light support, and the hood goes on like a regular hoodie with a drop-down eye mask. Once our head was fully cocooned in the hooded pillow, we found that it was a game changer for travelers who have a hard time falling asleep with light or ambient noise around since it muffles sounds and blocks rays. While the space-helmet-like shape looks quite different from other travel pillows on the market, it's still easy to put on and offers excellent portability. Plus, this newer model features an easy way to clip the pillow to a backpack or luggage handle. One thing to note is that the price point is quite high compared to other pillows on the market, but the unique design and high-quality fabric and construction make it worth it for those with higher budgets.

The Details: Alcantara fabric, WPS mesh | 12 x 6 x 4 inches (folded) | Machine washable

Travel + Leisure / Dera Burreson

Gingerlily Silk Travel Pillow

A silk pillow is the way to go to protect your hair and skin throughout your travels.

This pillow is 12 by 16 inches, so make sure you have plenty of room to pack it.

For those who love sleeping on silk pillowcases at home, this mini version for travel is an absolute must. Yes, it can be pricey to buy silk travel accessories, but it's also expensive to ruin a blowout and have to find a salon on vacation (and there's no price to be put on fresh, clean skin). This silk pillow is smaller than a standard pillow at 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, but you can still use it in a hotel bed, and it's perfect for trains, planes, and cars — just make sure you have the space in your personal item bag . After using this pillow for multiple long trips, it still shows no signs of loose stitches, fraying, or pilling. Rather, the pillow feels like it will last without ever going limp or flat.

The Details: Mulberry silk, cotton sateen, polyester | 12 x 6 inches

Travel + Leisure / Morgan Ashley Parker

TripSavvy / Morgan Ashley Parker

Best Cooling

Cabeau evolution cool pillow.

The mesh air vents make the pillow breathable to prevent overheating. 

It’s made of firm memory foam.

The Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow is a great pick for travelers who get warm quickly. The pillow is designed to prevent heat from building up when you wear it as mesh vents in between two layers of cushiony memory foam filter in the air. We liked the breathability feature and moisture-wicking fabric and noticed that we didn’t feel overheated while using it on an airplane or road trip. While it took a moment to get situated, once the pillow was in the most comfortable position, it was extremely supportive and firm without feeling too hard. We especially liked the portability of the already lightweight pillow (thanks to its durable carrying case), as well as the mesh pocket for storing small accessories. Even after being rolled up and stuffed into its carrying case, this pillow quickly unfolds back to its original shape.

The Details: Memory foam | 9 x 7 inches | Machine washable | Carrying case included

Best Adjustability

Buyue travel neck pillow.

One side of the pillow has extra cushioning, and you can swivel it around to support any part of your head.

It comes with a drawstring bag to stuff it in, but the pillow still takes up a good chunk of space in a backpack.

With thick cushioning on one side of the pillow, the unique design of this travel pillow makes it easy to get comfortable in a small space where there isn't much wiggle room. No matter which way your head tilts when you sleep, you can adjust this pillow with the largest part of cushioning rotated to support the side or back of your head, or you can turn it to the front to prevent your chin from tipping forward or bobbing around. After testing the pillow on both road trips and long flights, we found that the fabric is breathable and soft for resting your head on, and we love that the cover comes off to toss it in the wash. Because of the thicker side of the pillow, it does take up a bit more space in a backpack, but it does come with a drawstring bag if you prefer to carry it outside of your luggage.

The Details: Polyester, spandex | 8 x 8 x 8 inches | Machine washable | Carrying case included

Travel + Leisure / Ava Wegner

Samsonite 2-in-1 Magic Travel Pillow

It has a modular design to shift from a U-shape to a rectangular pillow, offering versatility at an affordable price.

The neck pillow might not offer enough support for some since it's on the softer side.

This microbead pillow from Samsonite can be used as a neck pillow if you're sitting upright or you can shift it into a rectangular pillow for leaning against a window or laying on a tray table. The handy two-in-one design already gets bonus points for versatility, but the budget-friendly price makes it all the more better. In testing, it was an effortless process to switch from the U-shape to the rectangle shape by flipping the pillow inside out. Made with polyester and microfiber beads, this pillow is shockingly lightweight and feels nearly weightless to carry around an airport. Because the pillow is on the softer side with the microfiber beads, we discovered it's not as supportive as a memory foam pillow, but it still offered enough support to prevent the neck from uncomfortably craning too far to one side.

The Details: Polyester | 12.25 x 11.75 x 4 inches | Hand wash

Travel + Leisure / Anita Rutz

Best Splurge

Purple harmony anywhere pillow.

This supportive pillow is comfortable enough to sleep on at night and would make any hotel stay feel more luxurious.

At over three pounds, it's quite heavy but feels weightless if you attach the strap to a backpack.

If you're looking for a travel pillow that is just as comfortable — if not more so — than your pillows at home, then this luxurious one from Purple is the one for you. It's a miniature version of the brand's best-selling Harmony pillow, and it boasts the same cooling gel and bouncy, neck-supporting feel as the larger version. During testing, we found this pillow to be noticeably cooling, breathable, and moisture-wicking, which can come in handy for camping. We wouldn't use this pillow during flights because of the plush, rectangular shape that wouldn't work well when sitting upright, but it would be ideal when you're laying flat, like in a hotel room.

It comes with a machine-washable pillow cover, and there is a travel case sold separately . Because this is one of the priciest pillows on this list, we do wish the travel case was included, but we do think it's worth adding on for its carrying straps and compression features. The pillow feels quite heavy on its own, but when you attach the strap to a backpack, it feels weightless to carry. You can also compress the pillow in half if you have the travel case, making it much more portable. Although this is a splurge for a travel pillow, we think it's worth the investment for travelers in search of a comfortable pillow with luxe features like a breathable honeycomb design, a moisure-wicking cover, and strong neck support.

The Details: Talalay latex, knit | 16 x 13 x 6 inches | Machine washable

Travel + Leisure / Jackie Cucco

Best Breathable

Sleep number travel pillow.

Sleep Number

The memory foam filling and synthetic fiber exterior let air pass through for superior breathability.

The pillow is large and was cumbersome to carry, especially for light packers.

It can get hot and stuffy on an airplane, so we love that the synthetic materials used to create this Sleep Number travel pillow are light and airy. The memory foam filling is bouncy and lightweight, and the soft fabric pillowcase is cooling enough to prevent overheating while sleeping in a plane, car, or train. We used the pillow on a long-haul flight to Ireland and found it was ideal for leaning your head against the window or on the tray table since the pillow is on the larger side. While the size offers extra cushioning and support like a regular pillow, it did make it slightly annoying to carry through crowded airports since it doesn't come with a compact carrying case. However, it does come with a drawstring bag to carry it separately or you can use the clasp to attach it to backpacks, suitcases, or other luggage.

The Details: Lyocell blend, memory foam | 17 x 12 inches | Machine-washable cover | Carrying case included

Travel + Leisure / Emily Johnson

Best for Camping

Therm-a-rest compressible pillow.

This mini pillow is ultra-durable and fit for rustic adventuring.

It doesn’t offer neck support like a regular travel pillow.

If you’re not a fan of the typical U-shaped travel pillow, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is a great alternative. It resembles the rectangular style of a traditional pillow, and you can compress it down to easily transport it to the great outdoors, making sleeping in a tent more comfortable than ever. The recycled polyester fabric is light and breathable, and the foam filling — made from extra polyurethane foam left over after producing REI’s sleeping pads — provides a soft cushion for your head. We also loved how durable it is, especially for various uses like camping, flying, or taking a nap at home. While the pillow doesn’t come with a carrying bag, it has a toggle strap that you can use to compress it into a smaller size and a built-in cover that you fold the pillow into for protection while traveling.

The Details: Recycled polyester, polyurethane foam fill | 15 x 11 x 5 inches | Machine washable

Other Travel Pillows We Liked

Some travel pillows we tested almost made the cut but didn’t due to a few weaknesses, though they still might make suitable options for some travelers.

Hest Pillow : This standard pillow is on the softer side yet still provides support and comfort while laying on it, but the fabric is slightly itchy, and it’s bulky to carry around, even when compressed.

Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Neck Pillow : While the memory foam is the perfect balance of firm and soft, we found this pillow to be just a bit too bulky for frequent travel.

Travel + Leisure / Daniela Galvez

Slip Jet Setter Travel Pillow : The silk material is luxurious soft and cooling, but the pillow itself is extremely bulky to wear and difficult to travel with.

Snugl Neck Travel Pillow : Made with soft and supportive memory foam, the pillow is ultra-comfy to use in-flight, but we had a lot of trouble getting it back into the carrying case.

Cushion Lab Travel Deep Sleep Pillow : The comfort level with this pillow is so high that we started using it to sleep on nightly at home. However, it's not very portable, and we had a hard time rolling it up into the case.

Our Travel + Leisure team tested more than 40 travel pillows to find the very best ones for every type of comfort-seekers. To thoughtfully curate this list, we researched and tested popular options, including pillows with the classic U-shape and rectangular ones, too.

Paying close attention to traits like comfort, quality, durability, and portability, we noted various features that stood out to us for both good and bad reasons. We looked for special features such as cooling designs, firmness, softness, or other claims by the manufacturer to check if they rang true. Our favorite pillows also kept their shape after being tucked away into a case and always sprang back into their original form with no signs of damage. 

After testing the pillows on journeys like cross-country road trips and long-haul flights, we continue to capture testing notes every few months to update our articles accordingly.

Tips for Buying a Travel Pillow

Prioritize neck support.

When it comes to sleeping in planes, trains, or cars, you should focus on your neck and head support. When your head drops during sleep, it can leave you with a sore neck or even a headache. Your travel pillow should be supportive enough that your neck stays securely upright without feeling as though you're being squeezed.

Portability is key 

Whether you pack light or stuff your suitcase full, a compact travel pillow that fits into a small carrying case is ideal for bringing along on trips. Of course, some travel pillows don’t compress, but they should still be easy to clip onto a suitcase or backpack and not bump into too many things if you’re traversing an airport or train station. It's always more convenient when a carrying case is included, especially if it has a luggage trolley sleeve or straps.

Consider the filling material 

Travelers who like a firmer pillow should opt for a memory foam filling that can offer more support than an inflatable alternative. Microbead pillows can be just as supportive as memory foam ones, but they tend to be on the softer side and are more suited to travelers that like a little less structure while sleeping. 

Think about how you plan to use it

Travel pillows are a relatively broad category, so you'll want to narrow down your intended use and travel habits before purchasing since they come in all different shapes, styles, and sizes. For example, if you often find yourself in the middle seat while flying, you'll want a pillow with lots of head support like a memory foam, U-shape pillow or an infinity style that you can adjust. However, window-seaters might opt for a rectangular pillow for leaning against the plane wall.

Travel pillows aren't just for flights, either. There are also rectangular options that can help make you more comfortable while camping or staying in hotel rooms, rental properties, or even friend's houses that might not have great pillows. They are also a road trip essential for every adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can generally find washing instructions on the tag of the travel pillow when you buy it. Removable covers can usually go through a machine wash, but many of our team members opted to air dry the cover to prevent any shrinkage that could happen in a hot dryer. If a pillow doesn’t have a removable cover, you can spot clean the pillow by using a wet cloth dipped in soapy water.

Most standard travel pillows have a semicircular shape that you wrap around the neck to support your neck, head, and chin. These U-shaped pillows often have memory foam or microbead filling, but there are also inflatable neck pillows. There are unique J-shaped travel pillows that are perfect for supporting the neck and head of someone sitting in the middle or aisle seat. In addition, standard pillows make great travel pillows for certain situations, and plenty of rectangular-styled pillows compress down for better portability.

Most travel pillows will come with carrying cases to compress the pillow, making it more portable. If the carrying case doesn't have a handle, it should still pack down small enough to fit in a personal item such as a backpack or a tote bag. Some pillows have a luggage trolley pass-through sleeve, which you can slip over the handle of your suitcase, while others may have a strap or a clip that you can attach to a backpack to carry it hands-free.

Some pillows are specifically designed to be worn in multiple different ways, but in general, it depends on your comfort preferences. You can wear a travel pillow backward , forward, or you can lean on it in the window seat — the most important thing is finding the most comfortable position for you.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Anna Popp  is a New York-based commerce writer at T+L, where she writes most of the team's tested content. Anna participated in testing travel pillows and worked with travel editors to determine the results for the best ones on the market based on a series of tests completed during trips taken by plane, car, and train. We will continue to update this article as we test even more travel pillows.

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best air travel pillows

Related Articles

The 9 Best Travel Pillows of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Get some quality shut-eye on the go

best air travel pillows

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more .

TripSavvy / Alessandra Amodio

Comfort is key when traveling, whether by car, train, bus, or airplane. And not just for your happiness—sitting or sleeping for hours on end can put your cervical spine (C-spine) in an unnatural position as your head bends downward to read, sways back to sleep on a headrest, or falls to the side to doze off against a window.

A travel pillow can help provide cushion to make falling asleep in transit easier, and the support may also help your C-spine and keep you comfortable during long flights and car rides. There are two main kinds of travel pillows: a donut or C-shape pillow and a rectangular pillow that mimics the type you use in bed.

All travel pillows should provide support and comfort, and you should be able to pack them down small enough to carry with you through an airport or on a train. To see what products were up to par, we tested 21 travel pillows over four weeks as we spent time in planes, trains, and cars. We looked for comfort, quality, portability, durability, and overall value.

Final Verdict

How we tested, other travel pillows we tested.

  • What to Look For

Why Trust TripSavvy

Best overall, cabeau evolution classic travel pillow.

  • Comfort 5 /5
  • Quality 4.5 /5
  • Portability 5 /5
  • Durability 5 /5

Highly supportive material

Helps maintain natural C-spine shape

Easy-to-clean cover

Attaches to carry-on

Not as supportive for taller people

Material runs warm

Doesn’t pack down

The Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow has a responsive memory foam core, which we determined is what makes this neck pillow rise above the rest. Whether it's propping your head up while sleeping or supporting your neck while watching a movie, it feels like a cloud of softness and comfort that conforms to support your shape. 

The design is your traditional C-shape, but with raised sides to keep your neck up and a flattened rear to avoid pushing your C-spine forward. We thought the memory foam felt neither excessively firm nor too soft, but worked well to hold our head up comfortably when sleeping. Moreover, it bounced back to its original shape after we used it for over two hours.

The pillow doesn't deflate, but it has a clasp that keeps it from slipping around your neck and makes it easy to latch the pillow onto your bag when not in use. It comes with a soft cover that's removable and machine washable. Not only is it affordable, it's also better designed than most competitors at the same price point.

Dimensions: 9.5 x 10 x 5 inches | Weight: 11.6 ounces | Material: Polyurethane core, velour cover

TripSavvy / Daniela Galvez

Best Overall, Runner-Up

J-pillow chin-supporting neck pillow.

  • Quality 5 /5

Super comfortable with a memory foam core

Packs down (carrying case included)


Doesn’t secure in place to prevent slippage

Less intuitive for the middle seat

This neck pillow has a unique J-shape design meant to support your head and neck while leaning against a window or seat in a car, bus, or plane. We found it super supportive while napping on a 19+ hour car trip and quite intuitive to use—one tester's 6-year-old cousin figured out immediately how to position this pillow.

The J-Pillow is lightweight, easy to move around, soft, and plush. It features memory foam, which is why it feels so supportive, and it has a machine-washable, cuddly, soft cover. The pillow is also quite durable and maintains its shape no matter the damage: We squished it under all the luggage in a trunk and it bounced right back to shape and didn't get any snags. 

Bonus: It comes with a stuff bag that you can tie around luggage, making the awkward shape much easier to travel with.

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 13 inches | Weight: 8.16 ounces | Material: Memory foam core, polyester blend cover

TripSavvy / Jennifer May

Best Budget

Cloudz microbead travel neck pillow.

  • Quality 4 /5

Great quality for the price

Easy to travel with

Two fabric options for hot/cold

Cover isn’t removable or washable

During testing, we found this classic donut-shaped neck pillow comfortable, supportive, lightweight, and soft but sturdy. The core has millions of tiny microbeads and is covered with super soft, plush fabric on one side and cooling spandex on the other, depending on what you need most during your travels. 

The pillow features a snap closure in front that helps keep your neck from falling forward and makes the pillow easy to attach to your bag for transport. During our tests, we specifically liked this pillow for neck support while switching between napping and reading or using a computer on long flights or train rides. And, despite being just $20, it also felt very high quality. 

While it didn't tear or snag during our travels, it’s worth noting that if you were to catch this on a door or snag it somehow, the millions of microbeads in the filling would come pouring out. 

Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 4 inches | Weight: 7 ounces | Material: Polyester, polyester blend

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

  • Portability 4 /5

Recycled materials

Flat design like a bed pillow

Versatile use

Doesn't specifically contour to the neck

Not the most compact when stowed

The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is ideal if you value having something akin to an actual pillow, but small enough for traveling. The traditional rectangle is filled with upcycled chunks of foam from excess camping sleeping pad material, with a soft insulation layer on top to keep the surface from feeling lumpy. You can pull the drawcord string to cinch the pillow to your desired firmness.

We found this pillow incredibly comfortable, with a real pillow feel that was ideal for everything from flights and camping to sleeping at home. We liked the soft and breathable exterior, which was perfect for warm weather and hot plane rides. The pillow packs down into itself and you can use the drawcord to tie the pillow onto a suitcase or backpack.

Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 5 inches (small) | Weight: 7 ounces (small) | Material: Polyester fiber core, polyester cover

Best Splurge

Ostrichpillow go neck pillow.

Cool, minimalist design

Incredibly comfortable for long flights

Very compact when put away

Velcro might catch on clothes or hair

The Ostrich pillow is a simple and sleek design, with one sleeve of high-density memory foam that wraps around your neck with high sides to rest your cheek on and Velcro security in front. We found this design extremely comfortable, to the point that it felt like wrapping a marshmallow around our neck or sleeping on a cloud. We found it supportive for the neck, chin, and head while sitting in the middle seat on a flight, and it even kept our neck and back pain-free on a long international flight.

The memory foam is incredibly soft and plush, and the design is very accommodating among different-sized people who tested it. This pillow also has an appealing, modern design that looks more refined while wearing it than other options we've seen. One of us, who is already a hot sleeper, did report that the pillow was a little warm on a long international flight, but it wasn't uncomfortable.

What's more, it packs down super small, compressing to 60 percent of its size into an included stuff bag, which makes it easy to stash in your carry-on bag .

Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 2.7 inches | Weight: 14.8 ounces | Material: Memory foam core, viscose cover

Tripsavvy / Susan Brickell

Best Cooling

Cabeau evolution cool pillow.

Accommodates large headphones

Good balance between softness and support

Packs down small

May be too firm for some

The Cabeau Evolution Neck Pillow follows a C-shape design but with one significant difference: The top and bottom inch have memory foam for optimal neck support, while the middle is made with mesh vents to keep you cool.

Our testing found this design to be super supportive and firm without being too hard, and that the airy, cooling design worked as promised. The curved sections on each side are also designed to wear over-the-ear headphones comfortably. The pillow is lightweight and packs into a circular carrying case that's easy to attach to your luggage. Plus, the pillow maintains its shape even after being rolled and unrolled over and over. 

We found that even though this pillow runs nearly $60, it's worth it if you need firm support to sleep comfortably while traveling—especially in a middle seat.

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 5 inches | Weight: 12.7 ounces | Material: Memory foam

Best Memory Foam

Aeris memory foam travel pillow.

  • Comfort 4.5 /5
  • Durability 4.5 /5

Super supportive

Compact when not in use

Comes with earplugs and eye mask

Requires effort to get into case

Made from ultra-supportive and contouring memory foam, it's no surprise that we found the Aeris Travel Pillow to be super firm and have excellent neck support. The memory foam is stiffer but still feels soft and comfortable to sink into. The sides come up high to provide an excellent chin rest when sleeping. We loved how we could lean back in the car or plane and the back of our neck wasn't against the headrest, which made for a comfortable nap. This neck pillow has a drawstring cord to secure it on any size neck.

The cotton cover is removable and machine washable. The whole pillow folds down small into a carrying case, which has the added feature of a side pocket to hold the included earplugs and eye mask.

Dimensions: 12.8 x 11.73 x 5.16 inches | Weight: 12.8 ounces | Material: Memory foam core; 80 percent velour, 20 percent polyester cover

TripSavvy / Anna Popp

Gingerlily Silk Travel Pillow

  • Portability 3 /5
  • Value 3.5 /5

Keeps skin and hair looking great

Big enough to use as a normal pillow

Quality materials and construction

Matching laundry bag, eye mask, and neck pillow available

Carrying case sold separately

Not particularly compact 

Retailing for almost $100 more than our overall winner, there’s no doubt that the Gingerlily Silk Travel Pillow is a splurge. However, it’s made from the finest mulberry silk, giving it an ultra-soft, smooth texture that helps to prevent wrinkles and protect your hair. We used ours on a five-hour Amtrak journey and loved that it kept a blowout looking sleek. The pillow may be expensive, but so is finding a salon on vacation (and there’s no price to be put on wrinkle-free skin!). 

The pillow is also made to last with high-quality materials and stitching. By the time we finished testing, it still looked brand new, and we felt that it would be a long time before it began to flatten. At 12 by 16 inches, this isn’t a full-size pillow, but neither is it the most portable option. This means you’ll need a significant amount of space in your carry-on or purse to tote it around, but on the flip side, being large enough to use for a regular night’s sleep at your destination adds to its overall value. Choose yours in sophisticated navy or pink and ivory stripes. 

Dimensions: 12 x 16 inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Mulberry silk cover, silk and polyester core

Best Support

Cabeau evolution s3 travel pillow.

  • Durability 4 /5

Unique chin strap for unrivaled support

Soft, washable cover

Folds compactly into included case 

Holds up well to intense travel 

Can feel a little restrictive at first 

Standing for “The Neck’s Evolution,” the TNE S3 from Cabeau features a patent-pending, totally unique chin strap designed to hold your head and neck firmly in place to prevent uncomfortable “bobblehead” syndrome. Other design features include raised side supports, a flattened back for greater comfort when leaning against your airplane seat, and an opening at the front of the neck for effective heat dispersal. Adjustable straps allow you to secure the pillow to any high-back seat. 

The interior is made from supportive memory foam, while the removable, washable cover features a soft, cozy fabric that held up well to our 12-day testing trip around Japan and South Korea . Despite using it almost constantly on different modes of transport, it looked good as new when we got home and only lost a slight degree of softness after washing. We especially liked that the pillow folds in half to fit inside a compact carry case, which has a clip for attaching it to your suitcase. There are seven bright colors to choose from. 

Dimensions: 7.5 x 6.3 x 11 inches | Weight: 14 ounces | Material: Memory foam core; polyester, microsuede, birdseye mesh cover

The Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow is exceptionally supportive, conforms to the natural curvature of the neck, and features a removable cover that is easy to clean. Also tying for the top pick, the J-Pillow Chin-Supporting Neck Pillow features an innovative design that delivers comfort and comes with an easy-to-carry stuff bag.

To determine the best travel pillows, we considered how easy the pillow was to set up and use out of the box, how the material felt to touch, how durable the material was against wear and tear, and how easy it was to clean. We put each pillow through a series of tests on plane, train, bus, or car rides exceeding two hours . During travel, we considered how supportive and comfortable the pillow was, how the fabric felt, how it made our neck feel, how easy it was to pack or compress, and whether it had any exceptional features that made traveling more comfortable.

Here are some of the other travel pillows we tested that fell short of our favorites list.

Trtl Pillow : For the price, this travel pillow didn't provide nearly enough neck support and not only felt flimsy but actually caused us pain during a 3.5-hour flight. Putting the wrap on was incredibly awkward and the fleece felt too stuffy riding in a car.

BCozzy Neck Pillow : This pillow has a unique wraparound design intended to create a double layer of cushion. However, it was too thick during testing to double up comfortably. It was definitely durable and well made, but not comfortable enough to recommend purchasing.

Ostrich Pillow Light Versatile : This pillow has comfortable, T-shirt-like fabric outside and a supportive, memory foam feel when you press on it. But the circular nature of the design just didn't work in testing to support the neck and head in a way that was also comfortable to sleep.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Memory Foam Travel Pillow : This memory foam pillow is supportive and soft, and it features mesh around the neck to keep you cool, as well as suede around the face to keep you cozy. Overall, this pillow is well made, thoughtfully designed, and comfortable enough for us to nap with on an 11-hour flight. It didn't fit into any single best category, but we recommend it nonetheless.

TripSavvy / Erin Johnson

Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow : This pillow's main selling point is that it rolls down super small for packability. But outside of that, we found little reason to buy it. It wasn't comfortable to sit or sleep with, caused us neck pain, the material was too plastic-y, and it's overall just confusing to use.

MLVOC Travel Neck Pillow Set : Our testing found this travel pillow too stiff to find a comfortable fit, not providing support to the head and neck, and allowing the head to bob from side to side. It also requires effort to stuff into the travel bag.

Samsonite Microbead 3-in-1 Neck Travel Pillow : This pillow features tiny beads, so it's not stiff like memory foam, but it didn't provide much support during testing unless our head was against a window. There isn't much support on the back of the neck, either. Overall, you can snag something more supportive for the price.

AirComfy Daydreamer Inflatable Neck Travel Pillow : This inflatable travel pillow isn't very comfortable once filled with air and was too small to fit in the crook of our neck comfortably. The surface gets dirty quickly and the plastic material was uncomfortable against the face. In short: Skip.

Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Pillow : This pillow has a soft, velvety cover and feels very firm with its memory foam core. We thought it might be too firm for some, but personally found it comfortable around the neck or leaning on for a window. For the price, it's well-made and a solid choice.

Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow : Filled with memory foam, this pillow has certain joints that twist into different shapes for personalized comfort. We found it to be thick and comfortable, but the bending nature tends to straighten slowly over time, so you'll have to readjust the position regularly.

Hest Pillow : This pillow packs down super small and then unfolds to be filled with shredded memory foam and polyester. Zippered access lets you adjust the loft to what you prefer, and we found it to be super comfortable and plush to sleep on. It's great for car trips and excellent for a full-size pillow versus a neck pillow, but we wish it came with a way to attach to luggage for air travel and that it was a bit lighter.

What to Look For in a Travel Pillow

You can find a comfortable neck pillow for just $20, but depending on your physiology, needs, and preferences, a pillow in the $40 to $60 range might be more comfortable. The price should correlate with design and features: A more expensive pillow should have a more streamlined design and features that make it worth more money due to better comfort, packability, and durability.

Most travel pillows come in one of two styles: Some kind of donut- or C-shaped neck pillow and a rectangular, small pillow that looks like what you use on your bed. 

A well-designed donut- or C-shaped pillow is ideal for keeping your spine aligned and preventing your head from jutting forward or falling back as you sit and sleep for hours while traveling. It should have support on all sides to keep your head from bobbing or your chin from falling. This style of pillow is ideal if you spend most of your travel time sitting up, whether working on a computer or trying to sleep in a middle seat (versus a window).

A rectangular pillow is ideal if you’re lying down in a car, train, or airplane, or if your head will be resting against a window. It’s also ideal if you want one item to do double duty, as you can use this travel pillow at home for a lumbar pillow or toddler pillow, or while camping. A rectangular pillow should feature materials that support your head and neck, and ideally have a customizable loft so you can adjust how thick or thin it depends on your sleep style to maintain that spinal alignment between your head and neck.

As we’ve said, a travel pillow’s primary purpose is to keep you comfortable and pain-free while in transit, which means it needs to be able to keep your head and neck in spinal alignment. That means the best travel pillow will be adjustable since some people need it tighter, looser, thicker, or thinner.

Your travel pillow should have a machine-washable cover that you can remove and clean like any pillowcase. Let the cover air dry to prevent any shrinkage.

Travel pillows make sleeping more comfortable, usually making sleeping easier. A good travel pillow should provide support for your head and neck in a way that maintains cervical spinal alignment. Being out of alignment (with your head jutting forward, back, or to one side) is associated with the neck, shoulder, and back, and can make it very uncomfortable to sleep (not to mention not great for your musculature).

The most common way people wear these classic travel pillows is with the clasp in the front and the back of the "C" at the back of the neck. If you reverse this position, you may find it much more supportive and comfortable. Whichever orientation offers you the most comfort—and therefore facilitates rest—is the correct way.

Rachael Schultz is a fitness and outdoor product journalist based in Carbondale, Colorado. Growing up in and around cities on the East Coast, she wasn't taught how to backpack or ski as a kid, which means that as she moved West and her passion for the outdoors grew in adulthood, so did her research skills around what exactly one needed to buy to get outside. Now an avid mountain biker, skier, hiker, and camper, she's endlessly fascinated by and knowledgeable about the nuances of materials, performance, and convenience of outdoor gear. She's lucky enough to test everything from women's ski bibs to ultralight backpacking gear to camping cocktail kits. Rachael is passionate about making the outdoors just as accessible to those who haven't spent much time under the stars as those who grew up enjoying it, and that includes having the right gear to stay happy and motivated to head out again as soon as possible.

Journal of physical therapy science vol. 35,2 (2023): “ Changes in neck pain and somatic symptoms before and after the adjustment of the pillow height .” 106-113. doi:10.1589/jpts.35.106

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The Best Travel Pillows for Long-Haul Flights

By Lauren Burvill

Shot of a passenger sleeping on the bus

All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

If you travel regularly you’ve probably learnt to spot the difference between a frequent flier and a rookie—the most obvious tell-tale sign being a bulky travel pillow, typically carried by an inexperienced flier, hanging from a backpack or being worn (wrongly) around the back of their neck before they even get on the plane. Many of us are guilty of buying one of these beanbag worms from the airport duty-free shop, only to realize that they’re more trouble than they’re actually worth.

Do a little research though—as we’ve done for you here— and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that the humble travel pillow has upped its game recently. Specialized brands like  Trtl  and  BCozzy  have entered the market, while pillows that range in shape and materials have popped up on Amazon.

So which ones are actually worth taking on a flight ? We asked our frequent flying editors to test out the most reviewed styles.

How we choose the best travel pillows

Every pillow on this list has been independently tested and reviewed by our editors. When testing, we consider quality, price, unique design features, as well as overall function and visual appeal.

Our top picks:

  • Best overall travel pillow: Cabeau Evolution S3 travel pillow
  • Best for neck support: Trtl travel pillow
  • Best for side sleepers: BCozzy neck pillow
  • Best budget buy: Dot & Dot Twist memory foam travel pillow

best air travel pillows

Best travel pillow for: overall comfort

If you're looking for an upgrade to a basic does-the-job travel pillow or suffer from neck or back pain, Cabeau's Evolution S3 travel pillow is the best we've tested so far. The memory foam style has considered everything, from an adjustable toggle clasp to secure the pillow comfortably around your neck, to a handy side pocket—ideal for storing headphones or earplugs. What really sets this pillow apart from the rest are the velcro straps on the back, designed to loop around a plane seat's headrest, helping to keep your head upright and take any pressure off your neck.

Why we love it:  “The foam in this pillow is extremely comfortable, but what I love most is that the back of the pillow is flat, so you can sit right up against your seat, unlike the typical travel pillow styles which tend to be round and tilt your neck down slightly. The straps are a great idea, but if you're short it might not be possible to secure to the headrest, so keep that in mind. It also comes in a sleek cylindrical bag that, when clipped onto your carry-on , you’d never even know there was a travel pillow inside." — Sarah Allard , digital editor, Condè Nast Traveller UK

best air travel pillows

Best travel pillow for: neck support

Less a pillow and more a supportive wrap for your neck, this unique design from Trtl is ideal if you're short on space and weight in your carry-on luggage—it weighs only 4.5 ounces. The pillow is designed to look like a scarf and features a clever curved U-shaped neck support stand that sits under your jaw and is then secured in place by wrapping the fabric around your neck and connecting the velcro.

Why we love it:  “I often feel like most typical travel pillows are too bulky and hard to get comfortably on, so I was keen to try this style. It's perfect for keeping your neck upright and avoiding any of the nodding that can happen while asleep. I'll admit, it feels a little strange at first to put it on, but the hypoallergenic fleece is soft and warm. It's a great option not just for plane travel, but also long road trips or train journeys.” — Sarah James , deputy digital editor, Condè Nast Traveller UK

best air travel pillows

Best travel pillow for: upper body support

This clever crossbody-sling pillow offers neck and head support while allowing you to truly relax and lean to one side to fall asleep. The pillow comes with a cord at the top that can be secured in place by looping over your seat’s headrest. You can wear the pillow on either side across your body, or down one side, creating more of a barrier between you and the person next to you. The pillow is inflatable, too, so it takes up hardly any room in your luggage.

Why we love it:  “I really love the shape of this pillow, as it cradles not just your neck, but your whole upper body. Although I usually don’t like inflatable pillows, the rigidity of this style works to make you feel secure while sitting upright.” — Lauren Burvill , senior commerce editor, Condè Nast Traveller UK

Best travel pillow for: red-eye flights

More than just a neck pillow, the Pluto Pod boasts a lightly structured and padded hood, as well as a pull-down eye mask. Do you resemble a bobble-headed, 1950s-style alien when you wear it? Yes, you do. Is it, by far, one of the best travel pillows we've tested? Absolutely.

Why we love it : “The pillow has helped me cut down on my sleeping tools. With the Pod, I can eschew ear plugs and an eye mask because the padded hood dampens noise and the flip-down eye mask blocks almost all light. Sleeping with one is like being inside a mini sensory deprivation tank, except you don’t have to worry about getting wet.” — Juliet Izon , contributor

Read a full review here .

best air travel pillows

Best travel pillow for: flexibility

Made of memory foam, this twist style pillow can be bent and contoured to almost any shape. Its flexibility means it can be worn in several ways, from around the neck to under your head, shoulders, or even lower back.

Why we love it:  “I often toss and turn a lot when trying to get to sleep, so I find I’m particularly wriggly when trying to get comfortable on a flight. This kind of flexible twist style of the pillow was perfect for me, as I was able to shape it to exactly where I needed it to be. I ended up settling with it half behind my neck and half under my chin, so I could lie on my side and get a couple of hours of precious sleep.” —L.B.

best air travel pillows

Best travel pillow for: side sleepers

Similar to the Trtl pillow but padded with soft microfleece and covered with microsuede, BCozzy's wrap-around design offers plenty of flexibility in terms of how you wear it. The pillow comes in two sizes and when wrapped around the neck offers double the support for your head, neck, and chin. The real standout of this design is the flat back, which is not only great for maintaining a healthy posture, but also means you can fold the pillow in half and wear it on one side.

Why we love it:  “Even on a plane, I'm a side sleeper. My go-to way to snooze is angling the side headrest as far as it can go so I can rest my head in the corner. Headrests can be very hit-and-miss on planes though, so being able to fold the BCozzy pillow in half is ideal as it can prop my neck and chin up on one side without it feeling too suffocating.” —L.B.

best air travel pillows

Best for: warmth

This squishy infinity-style pillow is all about the soft and breathable bamboo fabric it’s made from. Coming in one large loop, the pillow is worn by wrapping around the neck twice and adjusting and scrunching accordingly depending on the level of comfort you’re looking for.

Why we love it:  “I’d say this pillow is less about neck support and more about soft and cozy scarf–meets–pillow hybrid. It feels like a sleeping bag for your neck—ideal if you get cold easily and are looking for something that’s more snuggly rather than stiff.” —L.B.

best air travel pillows

Best travel pillow for : Versatility

Slip this microbead-filled cap over your head and you’ll completely redefine the experience of sleeping on the go. From the outside, the wacky-shaped headpiece may feel a tad like a Teletubbies costume, but once you pull your head through the 27.5-inch opening, any place you find yourself in—no matter how bright or how loud—can turn into a sleep zone.

Why we love it: “And there’s no right or wrong way to use it: On a plane, use it to lean against the wall of the window seat, lie head down on the tray table of the middle seat, or tilt backward on the headrest of the seat.” — Rachel Chang , contributor

This article was originally published on Condé Nast Traveller UK .

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

We caught the redeye more than once testing the best travel pillows, and these are the cushions we trust to get us to the other side well-rested.

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best air travel pillows

Upgrade your next flight with a travel pillow. We’ve all been there: shuffling through first class, begrudgingly looking at the spacious cubicles of the travel elite — the leg room, the side tables, the seats that fully recline into flat beds.

While first class has elevated comfort to new heights, it seems like the rest of us are only losing ground in airline seating. It won’t bring you hourly cocktails, but a good travel pillow can make the best of your travel experience.

The GearJunkie staff’s travel schedule isn’t stacked — we’ll take maybe five flights a year. But arriving rested is important for a number of reasons. We are either flying across the country, requiring a (very) early departure so we can make afternoon meetings. Or we are traveling overseas to a media event packed with presentations followed by a full plate of physical activity.

Either way, if we are not working on the plane, we are sleeping. Or trying to sleep. And we are always flying coach.

If you are trying to catch some winks in the air, outside over-the-counter medication, the best way to make the most of it is by investing in a good travel pillow. Really folks.

If you are spending hard-earned cash on a rare travel opportunity — maybe a once-in-a-lifetime trip — you really owe it to yourself to ditch the rolled-up sweatshirt and spend an extra $40 on a pillow. Feeling rested gives you a leg up on arrival, allowing you to do more of what you are there for … enjoying the trip.

To find the best travel pillows for 2024, we tested 20 pillows, evaluating comfort, support, and ease of transport through the terminal. The GearJunkie staff is a mobile group that has used and enjoyed these pillows. Every pillow on this list is a sleep number champ. After perusing our selection, have a look at our spec comparison chart and read the buyer’s guide for more info. Otherwise, tuck into our list of the best to catch some shut-eye with.

  • Best Overall Travel Pillow: Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow
  • Best Budget Travel Pillow: Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow
  • Best Travel Pillow for Side Sleepers: TRLT Travel Pillow
  • Best Inflatable Travel Pillow: Blabok Inflatable Travel Pillow
  • Best Travel Pillow for a Window Seat: J-Pillow Travel Pillow
  • Best Travel Pillow for Aisle or Middle Seat: Cabeau The Neck’s Evolution S3 (TNE) Neck Pillow

Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

  • Materials Memory foam
  • Shape Neck pillow
  • Weight 13 oz.
  • Travel Bag Yes

Product Badge

  • Ergonomic design aligns the back of the pillow flush with seat
  • Best in class memory foam pillow is soft and supportive
  • Great lateral and chin support stabilizes the head in all directions
  • Some compression against the jugular when strapped down too tight
  • Foam closes around the neck entirely, which can trap heat and feel too warm for some

Memory foam is the ideal fluff for a supportive travel pillow. But even the best foam isn’t going to give you the support you need for long-haul comfort if it isn’t formed right. What elevates the Travelrest Nest ($40) above the rest isn’t in what they have added — it’s in what they took away.

Travelrest cut a wedge out from behind the neck of the Nest, allowing the pillow to lay flush against the seat. Slip-resistant rubber pads are printed on the underside, preventing the pillow from sliding off the headrest. Your head remains stable and motion-free without all the bulk behind the head.

Another notch is carved out behind the neck, allowing the back of the head to sit naturally into the pillow. The functional form lets you lean back and rest without having to tilt the chair back, which makes everyone else a little bit happier.

In our experience, many travel pillows don’t support the chin securely enough. We are happy to report the Travelrest Nest fastens around the neck with Velcro tabs, cradling the chin and preventing head nods while dozing off. The combination of form and foam gently secures the head in a neutral position and makes the Travelrest Nest pillow our top choice. 

Out of our four testers, all agreed that the Travelrest Nest is by far the most comfortable travel pillow. And at just a penny under $40, it’s an easy product to recommend investing in for your next travel plans. For most travelers out there, this is the travel pillow to snag.

Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow

  • Materials Microbeads
  • Weight 7 oz.
  • Travel Bag No

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Inexpensive option
  • Good for side sleepers
  • Dual-sided microfleece or spandex cover for temperature regulation
  • Large volume behind the neck requires you to rotate the pillow to the side to sleep.
  • No pillowcase or travel bag

Better than the stock pillow provided by the airline, and many sleeps beyond the sweatshirt stuffed behind your neck, the Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow ($16) is a small investment for better sleep on the go.

The top of the pillow is soft microfleece with soft, cooling spandex on the underside. Inside, the hemi donut-shaped pillow is filled with small foam microbeads. Think of it as a fleecy beanbag pillow for your neck. 

This is a great starter pillow for those who are considering getting a travel pillow, but don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. You need to know it’s going to be a little limiting though. 

The back of the pillow has a lot of fill, which is OK if you just want some support while reading or binging the latest inflight entertainment. But it’s too much pillow behind the neck if you want to get some sleep. 

We found we had to rotate the pillow 90˚, shifting the bulk of the pillow to the side. This also turns the notch to the side, which does two things. It supports the chin better, and it supports the head pretty well for side sleepers. It does expose the other side to nodding off and down to the side, so choose your side wisely.

The microbead fill is louder than other synthetic lofts, and over time, the microbeads can collect dirt and grime. Since there is no pillowcase, you will have to either spot-clean this pillow or risk washing the entire pillow in a washing machine (on gentle and in a delicates bag). But for 16 bucks, the Microbead Travel Neck pillow gets a lot of things right and is our bargain pick for travel pillows.

TRLT Travel Pillow

  • Materials Fleece scarf with internal plastic frame
  • Weight 4.25 oz.

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Small and compact pillow
  • Removable case
  • Supportive for head bobbers
  • Light weight
  • Looks like a neck brace
  • Caused some mid-back pain on longer flight

The TRTL Travel Pillow ($60) is a quirky-looking little pillow that caught our tester’s attention because they are a side sleeper, and a bit of a head bobber. If this describes you, it’s a familiar story: As soon as you start to fall asleep, your head drops and jolts you awake, beginning a rinse-and-repeat cycle of catching interrupted micro naps. 

That’s all in the past with this pillow, which has an internal plastic frame that sits over the shoulder and wraps around the neck up toward the ear. You instinctively lean into the structure, and it cradles the head from the side. 

A microfleece scarf fastens over the chin and around the neck, gently locking the head in place. It works so well that our tester realized their head began to gradually float off the chairback without dropping the chin. It’s an odd sensation, and you can fix this by tilting the seat back slightly, allowing gravity to do what it does best. 

The TRLT is a small, compact pillow that is easy to maintain. The pillowcase unzips off the frame and can be thrown in the wash. The downside is it looks a bit like a neck brace, and we found the plastic scaffolding can push up against the ear. We also found that while it stabilizes the neck, the stabilizing force was oddly distributed down the chain to the middle of the back, causing some dull pain on longer flights.

Overall, the TRTL Travel Pillow offers a simple solution that’s easy to maintain. It’s a bit pricey, but we feel the simplicity and function warrant the price.

Blabok Inflatable Travel Pillow

  • Materials Vinyl with air
  • Shape Head pillow
  • Weight Unknown

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Inexpensive
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Comes with eye mask and ear plugs
  • Incurs funny looks

Our reviewer ordered the funky-looking Blabok Inflatable Travel Pillow ($25) as a last-minute addition to an international flight, where she knew she would be spending some serious sleep hours on the plane. 

“In the past, I’ve quietly giggled to myself when seeing travelers dutifully blow into their airport comfort balloons, but I’m a convert. Through flight delays, layovers, and crazy long flights, I ended up singing the praises of this thing!”

It not only gives you multiple positions to support your head and neck during a flight, but during layovers, it is a solid napper in quiet terminal corners. Armholes allow comfortable positioning, and the open, airy internal chamber means you can breathe easily while face down in the pillow. And to our surprise, it’s shockingly easy to inflate. A few breaths, and you’re good to go.

The Blabok pillow deflates just as fast and rolls up tiny, making it our favorite inflatable travel pillow and our preferred travel pillow for long flights. Bonus tip: Because of its shape, if you have sore legs/hips from your adventures, it can be used as a knee support pillow. Funny looks be damned, we’re sleeping better than anyone else on the Blabok Inflatable Travel Pillow .

J-Pillow Travel Pillow

  • Materials Polyester fill
  • Shape Head and neck pillow
  • Weight 11 oz.

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Great for side sleepers who lean against a wall
  • Chin support spots you from leaning forward
  • Soft microfleece cover
  • Only supports one side of the head
  • Doesn't compress down as well as memory foam

Not your traditionally shaped travel pillow, the J-Pillow Travel Pillow ($50-60) has three dimensions that cradle the head and neck in an X, Y, and Z axis. The head leans into the large flaps, with the ‘J’ tail wrapping under the chin. It gives the neck mild support and prevents the head from dropping forward.

As you would suspect from a pillow you lean into, the J-Pillow is ideal for those who have a window seat, where you can catch some winks against a wall. One side is completely unsupported, so if you are the type of sleeper who tosses a bit and occasionally leans the other way, your sleep might get disrupted.

We found this more of a problem when seated in the aisle or middle seat. Seated next to the window, we could lean into the pillow with the added confidence of uninterrupted sleep.

The J-Pillow is filled with a polyester loft. It’s not as firm as memory foam, and it doesn’t run as warm either. That’s partly because the structure only cradles half the head. The airflow is decent, and with the airplane vent aimed at us, this pillow keeps things cool.

No removable cover to be found here, and you toss the entire pillow in the wash — which isn’t a bad thing. It ensures the entire pillow is cleaned. The pillow crushes down to a small, travel-friendly size and carries in the provided stuff sack. 

Despite the quirky design, the J-Pillow is a comfortable and supportive option — especially if you like to sit tucked away in a window seat.

Cabeau The Neck’s Evolution S3 Neck Pillow

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Best in class memory foam comfort
  • High lateral walls for maximum head support
  • Seat straps holds pillow to the chair
  • Over-the-top elastic strap supports chin and keeps mouth closed
  • Raised side supports feel bulky and adds pressure around the neck
  • With straps, this is a more fidgety travel pillow and takes time to set up

No matter how good the pillow, it’s hard to prevent the dreaded head bob. Even Cabeau — the grandmaster of travel pillows — couldn’t get around this. This matters most when seated in the aisle or middle seat, where personal space is limited. To that end, Cabeau released The Neck’s Evolution S3 ($50). The secret sauce? Straps — lots of them.

A pair of vertical straps tack the pillow to the seat back, cutting the bobble off at the head. If the pillow doesn’t move, you don’t move. The third, elastic strap, wraps over the pillow’s horseshoe ends (not out in front), fastening to the opposite side. Wrapping over the pillow, the strap is, in essence, a hammock for your chin. It keeps the chin up and prevents the head from nodding forward.

What we love about this design is that it 1) immobilizes the chin just enough without feeling too rigid, and 2) leaves the front of the pillow exposed, allowing the neck to cool off. This is important because memory foam can really trap the heat. With the small gap, the pillow spills heat, keeping you feeling cooler. It’s kind of genius.

The memory foam is the softest we tested. It is even softer than the Travelrest Nest (which is made from very good, resilient foam). We did find the amount of foam significant and noticeable. The sidewalls ride up to just below the ears. If you end up slouching in your chair (or have a shorter neck), this is pronounced and you feel the foam pushing into the ears and around the neck. This can become uncomfortable over time. 

The pillow rolls up tight and packs in a zippered pouch. And if all this isn’t enough, Cabeau threw in a pair of earplugs to help cancel out the noise. All in all, at just under $50, the Cabeau The Neck’s Evolution S3 is an excellent neck pillow and a good alternative to the Travelrest Nest .

Cushion Lab Ergonomic Travel Pillow

  • Shape Neck Pillow
  • Weight 10.5 oz.

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Asymmetrical design rotates 360˚ to fit a variety of sleep positions while seated
  • Accommodates over the ear headphones
  • Small packed size and comes with a travel bag
  • Available in two different sizes
  • Low sides do not provide as much lateral support
  • Snug fit can be too tight

One of the best advantages you can give yourself while traveling is options. The asymmetrical shape of Cushion Lab’s Ergonomic Travel Pillow ($55), allows you to turn the pillow around your neck to match the seating requirements. 

Flat on the underside, the top of the pillow rolls between 2.5 and 5 inches, with three different notches that you can position under the chin and behind the head. Window, middle seat, aisle … the variety allows you to find the best sleeping position for any seat.

The memory foam pillow is protected by a form-fitting pillow case with an elastic cord that keeps the pillow packed tight. It all packs away nicely in a small widemouth ditty bag that is easy to pack and unpack. 

The extra-dense memory foam is stiffer and similar to what we found in the Ostrich Go Neck . While the Go Neck is perhaps more stylish, the third notch gives the Ergonomic Travel Pillow one more option to find the perfect position — and the upper edge between the two. 

We also like Cushion Lab’s overall lower profile. It allows you to wear over-the-ear headphones and feels less restrictive without compromising head and neck support. The Ergonomic Travel Pillow lives up to the name and allows for fine-tuning your fit to match your travel circumstances perfectly.

Ostrich Go Neck Pillow

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Asymmetrical sides allow you to rotate the pillow into multiple positions to match the seating
  • Crushes down small
  • Washable removable cover
  • Dense memory foam has excellent support
  • High sidewalls press into ears
  • Wrapping design holds heat

Another innovator in the travel pillow space, Ostrich brings disruptive designs that are both functional and fun. The Go Neck Pillow ($70) is a stylish memory foam “shawl” that secures around the neck with a hook-and-loop closure. The wave-like shape has a lower, plumper cushion that rises and narrows behind the neck before it crests to a taller, thinner pad. The asymmetrical cushions narrow and close together with a 5-inch Velcro tab.

You can rotate the Go Neck to match a variety of positions, but we really only found two that work — with the chin between the fold where the two flaps come together, or 180˚ backward, with the chin tucked in the other narrowing. The pillow feels more comfortable with the overlap in front, but the reverse is slightly taller and supports the chin well.

While ergonomic (and perhaps even beautifully designed) the foundation of the Go Neck is a stiffer memory foam. It isn’t as soft as either the Cabeau or Travelrest pillows. The firmness is supportive, but can feel more rigid and less forgiving over time. Plus it’s about $20-$30 more than our top pillows, which excludes it from what we feel are better bargain options.

BCOZZY Neck Pillow

  • Weight 8 oz.

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Adaptive design rotates around the neck to give you support where you need it
  • Allows plenty of ear room for those who wear over-the-ear headphones
  • Fully machine washable
  • Four different size variations available
  • Takes a while to position it right
  • Snug wrapping design can get hot

Many travel pillows are available in a one-size-fits-all option, which means if it doesn’t fit you, it doesn’t work at all. So when a travel pillow comes in a variety of sizes that can be configured to match a variety of seating options, our interest is piqued.

Bcozzy’s Neck Pillow ($45-60) snakes around the neck, overlapping the ends with a long Velcro hook and loop closure. The long, skinny pillow undulates with alternating hourglass narrows and plump supportive pads. Available in four sizes (two youth, two adults) there’s a Bcozzy for everyone. And, you can rotate the pillow 360˚ around the neck to give you support where you need it. 

Side leaner? Rotate the overlapping ends under the ear and lean into the pillow. Middle seat? Position the narrow section behind the neck and support the chin with the overlapping ends. Departing the plane? Just loosen up the Velcro tabs and wear it off the plane. Compared to other pillows, it wears relatively under the radar and is easy to use.

The Bcozzy doesn’t have a removable pillowcase. Instead, you toss the whole thing in the washing machine to wash the entire pillow. It is recommended that you put it inside a delicates bag or a tied-off pillowcase and wash it on a gentle cycle. This prevents the machine from breaking down the polyester fibers.

The Bcozzy Neck Pillow isn’t the cheapest pillow on our list, but with the right size, it is very easy to use and works in virtually any seated position, making this one of the more versatile travel pillows on our list.

Honeydew Sleep Company Scrumptious Travel Pillow

  • Materials Copper infused cooling memory foam
  • Weight 2 lbs., 8 oz.

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • You can add or remove fill to match your desired firmness
  • Hand-made in U.S.A.
  • Bulky to carry
  • Large size forces chin to drop even with the seat tilted all the way back

Take your favorite pillow from home, shrink it by 30%, and cut a wedge in it so it curves around the neck, and you’ve got Honeydew’s Scrumptious Travel Pillow ($130-220). 

The memory foam fill is shredded into small pieces, giving it a soft and even fluff. Infused with copper, it’s antimicrobial and helps keep the body cool. The downside is that it doesn’t pack down as well.

Stuffed inside the provided cotton sack (included), the pillow carries around at a bulky 9 x 12 inches. That’s partly the foam, but there’s no getting around — it’s a lot of pillow. Unpacked, the Scrumptious is a whopping 12 x 21 inches. 

A crescent-shaped notch lays behind the neck and over the shoulders, allowing you to lean back into the pillow. But it wasn’t enough to prevent our chins from dropping. Even with the seat pushed all the into the furthest position, the mass of the pillow pushed our heads forward. We found it hard to prevent the chin from dipping down as we dozed. 

The Scrumptious is big and not all that comfortable while on the plane. But once we arrived at our destination, we stored the hotel pillow in the closet and used the Scrumptious instead. The soft and even proprietary fill is better than our pillows at home and gives us a better night’s rest while on the road.

You just need to be prepared to carry the extra baggage with you as a carry-on, or find room for the pillow in your bags. For the comfort the Honeydew Scrumptious Travel Pillow provides, however, it’s worth finding the space.

Sea To Summit Aeros Premium Traveller Pillow

  • Materials 20-denier polyester face fabric, TPU air bladder
  • Weight 3 oz.
  • Travel Bag 3 x 4 x 2" soft-sided case

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Truly lightweight and compact travel pillow
  • Three chin snaps fit multiple neck sizes
  • Narrows at the middle to accommodate for neck tilt
  • Expensive for an air pillow
  • Lacks support of a foam pillow
  • Little to no chin support

Sea to Summit has been making some of our favorite camp pillows for years. In fact, the Aeros Ultralight is our go-to pillow for most of our adventures where weight is critical. If an inflatable pillow can handle what the Rockies, Cascades, and all the associated climbing gear can throw at it, we feel confident it can handle the threats faced in coach.

Made specifically for traveling, the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Traveller Pillow ($45) is a crescent-shaped version of their inflatable camp pillow. The poles of the kidney-shaped pillow inflate out over the shoulders and snug up against the neck just below the ears, tapering behind the neck between the two poles.

The pillow snaps together securely under the chin with three snap options. We like how the snaps provide more security than Velcro. From kids to weightlifters, the options fits a variety of neck sizes. Unfortunately, the Aeros doesn’t support the neck as well as memory foam. Both side-to-side and chin support were less stable than the memory foam counterparts. 

And at $45, you aren’t getting a better deal. You are buying a lack of space. The Aeros packs down to the size of a deck of cards or two and weighs in at a welterweight 3 ounces, which is how most ultralight investments work. You don’t buy comfort; you buy room in the pack. 

This makes the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Traveller an option for gram-counting travelers who feel strongly that comfort is a luxury. It also works as a good backup travel pillow or if you are carrying for two and need to carry a barebones backup pillow. If an airline weight limit is giving you the business, this is the pillow to grab.

Hest Travel Pillow

  • Materials Cut up memory foam, stretch-woven nylon cover
  • Weight 1 lb., 4 oz.

The Best Travel Pillows of 2024

  • Stuffs and zips up into into itself with durable outer carrying case
  • Soft and incredibly comfortable foam fill
  • Mimics the feel of a full-size pillow
  • Soft pillow case is purchased after market
  • Some users find the cut up memory foam feels lumpy

The Hest Travel Pillow ($75) is billed as both a camping and travel pillow. It is a small, 10 x 15-inch rectangular pillow with some overbuilt upgrades that make it probably a better (read: heavy) option for traveling over camping. 

The entire pillow is carried inside a water-resistant nylon shell, which reminds us of a hearty ski jacket denier. Unzip the outer shell and the pillow pulls inside out with a softer stretch woven material. Another zipper reveals the inner pillow — which you can remove and throw the case in the wash for cleaning.

The memory foam is doughy soft and a good upgrade from most camp pillows. But it’s also more expensive. At $75, it’s creeping into a serious sleep investment. While the stretch woven pillow liner is soft, Hest sells an even softer aftermarket pillowcase, but you will have to open the wallet a little more and pay an additional $20.

A rectangular memory foam pillow is the closest approximation to a pillow from home and it works great in a pinch catching a nap in the terminal or as a backup pillow at the hotel if the provided pillows look suspicious. 

For overall comfort, we prefer the modified rectangular pillow from Honeydew . The brand’s Scrumptious Pillow is divine. But for overall packability and travel-friendly size, we prefer the Hest Travel Pillow , which crunches down to about 1.5 L (and costs half the price of the Scrumptious).

Travel Pillow Comparison Chart

How we tested travel pillows.

best air travel pillows

The GearJunkie staff gets around. At least one of us is in the air during any given week traveling on assignment — so we’ve logged the miles, all of them in coach, and many of these clocked across the Atlantic or Pacific. The redeye may be effective, but it also means if we don’t get our rest, we are up for a very long following day. To make it all work, the GearJunkie staff gets by on coffee… and travel pillows.

Like your pillow at home, a travel pillow should support the neck and be comfortable. Since it’s for use on the road, it should also pack up small so we can either wear it to our connecting flight or securely clip it to our carry-on luggage or travel backpack without whacking other travelers.

To test pillows, we evaluated fill materials and took note of how pillows supported the neck. Did it limit head bobble and keep the neck aligned? Or were we woken up nodding forward? We evaluated how soft the outer material is, and if we could remove and wash the case during or after our travels.

In our search, we aimed to find and test pillows that every person stuck in coach across the spectrum could enjoy — from window, aisle, to middle seat (be damned), we chose for travelers marching gate to gate with pillows around necks or strapped to our luggage.

We take testing seriously and the testing doesn’t stop here. As new travel pillows hit the market, we’ll be lining up with the rest of you and continue to test, ensuring that our lineup is as fresh as walking into customs at 7 a.m.

Steve Graepel has worked at GearJunkie as a contributing editor since 2009, testing everything from packrafts, to bike bags, cycling bibs, sleeping bags, winter boots, trail runners, and travel pants . Many of these stories require travel to meet with manufacturers and test gear in real-world conditions. Between testing, Steve is always striving for the perfect sleep score. His personal best is 87.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Travel Pillow for You

Travel pillow design and fill.

The overall goal of a travel pillow is to support the head for uninterrupted rest. Travel pillows get this done with designs that contour around the body’s shape and close the gaps by molding the pillow’s fill to the head and neck. Together, the shape and fill keep everything comfortably in alignment.

best air travel pillows

Not all pillows are created equal. That’s because not all seats are the same. While you can lean your head against the wall in a window seat, you are stuck sleeping upright in an aisle or middle seat. Bobblehead sleepers might give in and drop into the tray for uninterrupted sleep.

If you can select your seat in advance, you can better predict the best pillow to bring. But we’re not always that lucky (nor that good at planning) so it might be helpful to have a few pillows available to match your assigned seat, or pick a good all-rounder travel pillow that works in a variety of seating.

Most travel pillows are horseshoe-shaped and wrap around your neck. The semicircular shape keeps the head from wobbling too much and maintains neck alignment. This design works well in almost every seat, as long as you don’t mind sleeping upright.

Side sleepers might prefer some structure to support the neck or padding that accommodates leaning against a wall. The downside is your head can still slide off the unsupported side and nod forward.

The rectangular pillow is your traditional camp pillow. Tried and true, these down, synthetic, or even air-filled pillows can be a little bulky, but don’t rule them out. They are a great option for table sleepers and window leaners, and are miles ahead of your down jacket when trying to catch some zzz’s between flights on the terminal floor.

A more updated window seat option is the J-Pillow . Winner of the British Invention of the Year, the J-Pillow offers head, neck, and chin support, and can flip sides, making it a good option for windows.

Memory Foam

best air travel pillows

One of the many wonders that came out of NASA, memory foam was developed in the 1960s. It is a viscous polyurethane that crushes down small and bounces back with hearty resilience. Recently, memory foam has become the online mattress wonder-kid, bringing mattress stores to their knees by selling directly to consumers.

We also see a lot of memory foam used in the latest camp mattresses and camp pillows. The benefit is that it forms to the body, cradling the head and neck with support. It’s a durable and comfortable fill and is a good choice for people who take sleeping seriously.

The downside is that when crushed, the foam is constantly trying to expand. To keep the pillow packed down, you need to stuff it in the stuff sack (usually sold with the pillow). And even packed, it’s always going to take up some space. A good insulator, foam will also retain heat more than other insulations. If you are a hot sleeper, consider options with cooling covers and venting designs.

Some memory foams are shredded or cut into small pieces. The foam lofts evenly but doesn’t crush down as small as the solid memory foam pillows. Both Hest and Honeydew offer shredded memory foam pillows. Both brands are also traditional rectangular-shaped pillows that mimic your pillow from home.

As the name implies, microbeads are small, round beads that are used to loft the pillow. To clarify, we aren’t talking about the microspheres smaller than one millimeter that are banned in North America. These are the larger, beanbag fill that shift inside the pillow to fill in otherwise awkward spaces while distributing pressure on the head and neck.

If you’ve ever spent much time sitting in a bean bag chair, you already know the downside. A microbead pillow can be comfortable out of the gate, but over time the microbeads shift and feel more uncomfortable. You might find yourself waking up and readjusting the pillow during your flight.

A firmer, stuffed microbead pillow will provide more support, and microbead pillows are usually less expensive. The only microbead pillow on our list is the Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow . At $16, it’s a bargain and works better than other microbead pillows we’ve tested.

Down and Synthetic Fill

The rectangular synthetic (or down) fill pillow is your old-school camp pillow. While down compacts more, both synthetic and down rectangular pillows can be a little bulky, and since they typically don’t clip to your luggage or wrap around your neck, you inevitably need to carry them around in your hands.

But don’t rule them out — they are a great option for table sleepers, as they fill in the gaps against the window, and are miles ahead of your down jacket when trying to catch some zzz’s between flights on the terminal floor. Plus, you can use them camping or at the hotel if the provided linens look debatable.

Inflated Air

best air travel pillows

Pillows have come a long way, but some technology doesn’t need to be fixed. The inflatable pillow supports through design of the shell that wraps around the neck. An inflatable camp pillow is great for using on extended backcountry trips. They pack down small and disappear in the pack.

In general, inflatable pillows aren’t as comfortable. They tend to be firmer than foam pillows and don’t snug and support as well as their memory foam counterparts. And they can be prone to punctures, which makes them useless if that happens in flight.

Look for inflatable pillows that are made up of durable material, like thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), or one that comes with a rugged cover. Valves can also be a weak point on an inflatable pillow. Make sure the one you buy has a tough, well-built valve that isn’t prone to leaking. And ask around — fellow travelers and online reviews are your best resources for gauging a pillow’s durability over time.

All said, we found the inflatable travel pillow from Blablok one of the most comfortable pillows we’ve ever used. It’s massive but compresses down to a small package — one of the benefits of inflatable pillows.

With a travel pillow, a huge part of durability is inside the pillow. With proper care, a pillow filled with either microbeads, polyester fill, or memory foam can last for several years.

However, after repeated use, memory foam tends to be more durable and resilient than microbeads. It doesn’t flatten or get lumpy and is more resistant to collecting dust. So memory foam might be the better option if you want a long-term solution. We generally find memory foam to be more supportive, too.

In general, the more features a pillow has, the higher the price will be. We see this with well-established companies like Cabeau, which use high-quality memory foam and invest time in R&D to develop cooling vents and stabilization seat straps. While more expensive, these products are more dialed, durable, and comfortable designs.

When you shop for a pillow, determine your must-have features, weigh them against your style of sleep, look at your budget, and find a travel pillow that’s best for you. If you’re new to travel pillows and still trying to figure out what kind of pillow you want, consider what you don’t like with the complimentary pillow you get before takeoff. After all, it’s free and a great way to test a pillow with low commitment.

With that baseline, swing back by our buyer’s guide and look at what pillows work best to meet those gaps in your needs. In the end, a travel pillow shouldn’t cost more than $60. It’s a drop in the bucket for a better travel experience.

Packed Size

best air travel pillows

The ‘packability’ of a travel pillow matters less than it does for a camping pillow. But it still matters, and this point will be salient when you are boarding and departing the plane. If it wraps around your neck, you can suck it up and try to stylishly pull it off (don’t worry, nobody can). If it has a stuff sack, you can compress it (or not) and buckle it to your luggage. As a last resort, you can carry it out by hand.

We recommend stuffing a travel pillow in its stuff sack before you land and snapping it to your carry-on’s side pocket. This keeps the pillow out of the way and allows you to move quickly in and out of the gate and through the terminal.

The most compact travel pillow is an inflatable pillow, like the Sea To Summit Aeros Premium Traveller Pillow . In general, we prefer a compressible pillow that offers support. Memory foam compresses reasonably well and, in our experience, is more comfortable.

Plus, we’d rather not make our first impression with others by blowing up anything on a plane. That said, the inflatable travel pillow from Blablok inflates quicker than you would think and is very comfortable on long flights.

Travel Tricks: Get a Good Night’s Sleep on a Plane

best air travel pillows

It’s fair to say sleep quality is compromised while in transit. But you can take extra measures to get the best rest possible. Below are travel tips we’ve gained from GearJunkie staff and our traveling friends in the industry.

Bring an Eye Mask

Sure, you can buy these but you may not need to. We always travel with a Buff . Our founder, Stephen Regenold — someone who’s seen it all — gave the Buff one of his highest accolades in a podcast interview with GearJunkie. He shared that the Buff might be one of the most unique pieces of gear ever developed. We use it as a hat, a sweatband, and pull over the eyes on flights. It does a great job of blocking out the light.

Continuing with damping out the senses, earplugs are a cheap and easy purchase. We get them in bulk at the hardware store and bring a few with us on the road. You may have a pair of these kicking around the garage or you might have noise-canceling headphones. Those less sensitive to sounds might get away with streaming music or podcasts through earbuds.

If you use over-the-ear headphones, consider a lower-profile travel pillow. We liked how the Bcozzy Travel Pillow slides low around the neck while still providing chin support options.

The cabin temperature on flights is generally set between 71 to 75 degrees F. That’s not bad, but it’s well below our core temperature. Dozing off, you may start to feel the chill set in. We always pack a good flannel , hoodie, or puffy jacket on a flight. It’s what we bring everywhere, so we keep one (or both) in our carry-on. And a hoodie or hat does a lot to keep heat from escaping.

Before you bed down, have a warm cup of caffeine-free tea or eat some fatty food. The extra calories will turn on your metabolism and burn off as heat. Finally, if they offer it, take advantage of that free blanket and drape it over your legs. If you run cold, every little bit helps.

Keep the Essentials at Hand

There’s a strategy for staying organized during travel. For us, it starts with a good travel pant. Knowing everything has its place keeps us worry-free and able to rest up peacefully. The best travel pants have pockets for your device, ID, and plane-friendly EDC. Plus pants with legs are warmer on overnight flights.

Absolutely. Travel pillows add a bit of comfort and help you get a better night’s sleep on the plane than a wadded-up jacket. The minimal investment of money, space, and weight is nothing compared to the comfort and support a good pillow provides. It only takes one long flight of trying to keep your head upright while dozing off to realize the value that a good travel pillow provides.

Different pillows have different requirements when it comes to cleaning. Be sure to check your pillow’s packaging. If your travel pillow has a removable pillow case, generally these can be thrown in the wash. We recommend following the instructions on the pillow case.

If you are on the road, you can wash the pillow cover out in the sink. You don’t need any special soap for this. Laundry soap or bath soap will work fine. Knead the pillow case gently with your hands until it’s clean. Then rinse it with clean water to get the soap out and hang it out overnight to dry.

If your pillow doesn’t have a removable case, we recommend spot washing them with soap and water or a cleaning wipe.

Most pillows require a bit more delicacy, particularly inflatable pillows. If you’re handwashing an inflatable pillow, make sure the valve is closed so water doesn’t get inside, and then immerse the pillow in soapy water. And never tumble-dry inflatable pillows, as it can damage the air bladder.

The best pillow is the one that matches your sleep needs. Most travel pillows are a horse-shoe shape that wraps around your neck to support your head. If you only want to buy one travel pillow, this semicircular pillow design is a great option. We recommend the Travelrest Nest Travel Pillow . It supports the head and neck without requiring a window to lean against and keeps you from nodding into an adjacent stranger.

Specialized pillows, like the J-Pillow , are great options for window seats. Side sleepers might appreciate the TRLT Travel Pillow , as it supports the head with a stiffened brace and emulates the position you’re most used to sleeping in at home.

If you already have one, don’t rule out the traditional camp pillow. Filled with down or synthetic loft, it can fill the crack against the window and provide a little more comfort than the stock pillows you might be handed before takeoff. It’s also a good pillow to pull out in the terminal if you are stuck between flights and need to crash for a few hours.

Long flights mean lots of idle time in the seat. Whether passing the time watching in-flight entertainment or getting the best sleep you can, we prefer the inflatable Blablok or the Travelrest Nest . Cabeau’s The Neck’s Evolution S3 Neck Pillow is also a great choice. The straps lock it to the headrest and prevent your head from bobbling forward.

We liked the simplicity of the TRTL Pillow and used it on a flight to Mexico. But we found that the internal support structure moved any pain from the neck, down the back between our shoulders. In the end, we preferred using the TRTL on shorter flights.

The simplest and most compact travel pillow is inflated with air. It won’t be as supportive as a memory foam pillow and can feel a little hard, but the air chamber can fit around your neck and add reasonable support. Deflated, it folds up and stows away smaller than a T-shirt.

best air travel pillows

The Best Camping Pillows of 2023

A camping pillow is both a luxury and an easy, lightweight addition to your pack. Here are the best camping pillows currently on the market.

best air travel pillows

The Best Travel Backpacks of 2024

We found the best travel backpacks of 2024, including top picks from Peak Design, Osprey, Patagonia, and more.

Steve Graepel

Steve Graepel is a Contributing Editor and Gear Tester at GearJunkie. He has been writing about trail running, camping, skiing, and general dirtbagging for 10+ years. When not testing gear with GearJunkie, he is a Senior Medical Illustrator on the Neurosurgery Team at Mayo Clinic. Based in Boise, Idaho, Graepel is an avid trail runner, camper, angler, cyclist, skier, and loves to introduce his children to the Idaho outdoors.

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best air travel pillows


The Best Travel Pillow

Our four neck pillow picks.

By Sabrina Imbler

Short of scoring a row of empty seats—dream on!—your best bet for getting at least a little sleep while flying is a travel pillow.

After asking 10 panelists to try on eight travel pillows and after taking four cross-country red-eyes in window, aisle, and middle seats, we think the comfortable and easy-to-pack  Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow is the best travel pillow for most people.

Everything we recommend

best air travel pillows

Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

The best travel pillow.

Its tall memory-foam walls let it offer more support than any other pillow we tested. It’s also shaped to sit flush against a headrest, and it compresses to a manageable size.

Buying Options

best air travel pillows

Cabeau Evolution Classic Pillow

A travel pillow available at airports.

This memory-foam neck-support pillow is highly adjustable, but without a contoured back, it can’t quite sit flush with the headrest. It’s available at many airport stores, though.

best air travel pillows

Trtl Pillow

A pillow for one-sided neck support only.

It’s a fleece scarf with a built-in plastic brace—like a one-sided neck brace, but softer and cozier. However, it’s not so great if you tend to shift position while you sleep, and it costs more than the other pillows we recommend.

best air travel pillows

Bcozzy Pillow

Great with large headphones.

Featuring an adjustable design that accommodates over-the-ear headphones, the Bcozzy is an excellent chin-support pillow for people who nod forward as they sleep.

The uniquely angled back on the Travelrest Ultimate sets it apart from other travel pillows because it can lay flat against the seat back. Most other pillows have a rounded back, which pushes your head away from the headrest. The Travelrest also has rubber grip dots to prevent slipping while sleeping. This pillow’s spongy memory foam cushions the entire circumference of your neck, preventing your head from leaning far in any direction, and its adjustable Velcro strap ensures it can fit most necks. The pillow’s cozy velour exterior is removable and machine-washable. Although it doesn’t pack flat, the Travelrest weighs less than a pound and compresses to a quarter of its size when rolled into its Velcro-strapped carrying case.

Our only complaint is that the Travelrest’s high walls, while supportive, can push over-ear headphones off of the ears of people with shorter necks. While the memory foam feels plush, it’s also quite firm; this offers excellent support, but not much give. It also doesn’t let you adjust the fit, like our two wrappable picks: the Turtl and the BCozzy . If the Travelrest fits your neck, it’s an excellent pillow. If your neck is much longer or shorter than this pillow’s 5-inch wall, though, you might prefer the fit of one of our other pillow picks.

If our top pick sells out, or if you find yourself pillowless past security, the Cabeau Evolution Classic Pillow is almost as good a pillow. It lacks the Travelrest’s angled, lay-flat back, but its U-shape, contoured memory-foam core and machine-washable velour cover still provide comparable levels of comfort. Its adjustable string closure also means that you can fit the pillow much tighter around your neck than you can with the Travelrest, making it a good choice for people with smaller necks or people who prefer a more constricted fit. Additionally, it’s the only one of our picks that we’ve regularly seen in stores located behind the security checkpoint at many airports.

If you typically lean to the same side while sleeping, the Trtl Pillow’s fleece-covered plastic frame provides unshakeable support to one side of your neck while remaining comfortable to wear. It’s basically a one-sided neck brace. The pillow’s cozy wraparound fleece will also keep your neck warm, making it a good choice for anyone who gets cold while flying (and a poor choice for those who sleep hot). But the Trtl’s winning quality is its tiny, packable size. Unlike any of our other picks, the Trtl does not need to be compressed or stuffed into a carrying case. It will always take up about as much space as a PB&J sandwich. (It costs a lot more than one, though.)

The Bcozzy , a variation on the hemi-doughnut theme, is our pick for anyone who wears large over-the-ear headphones on a flight or tends to nod forward while they sleep. The pillow’s overlapping ends form a snug cushion that holds your chin in place far better than do the Trtl’s plastic frame or the Travelrest and Cabeau’s chin-facing gap. While the pillow does not provide great support to either side of your neck, if paired with a large pair of headphones, the Bcozzy holds a head in place perfectly. While not as compressible as our other picks, the pillow has a small loop that can be clipped to the outside of most bags so it doesn’t have to take up space inside your bag.

The research

Why you should trust us, who this is for, how we picked our best travel pillow finalists, how we tested travel pillows, our pick for the best travel pillow: travelrest nest ultimate memory foam travel pillow, runner-up for the best travel pillow: cabeau evolution classic pillow, also great for portability: trtl pillow, also-great chin-support pillow for forward-nodders: bcozzy pillow, other good travel pillows, the competition.

I am a frequent flyer who often takes red-eyes from coast to coast—I now live in Brooklyn but fly home to San Francisco to visit my parents. I’m also an insomniac, so falling asleep on planes has never been easy for me. While writing this article, I tested eight travel pillows on two five-hour flights and slept with our four picks on two more cross-country flights. I also spoke with Rebecca Robbins, a postdoctoral fellow at the NYU Center for Healthful Behavior Change at the time of the interview, to see what she looks for in a travel pillow.

In addition, my Wirecutter colleagues as a whole are an exceptionally mobile group. We’ve worked remotely from every continent except Antarctica, so I asked some folks on staff which pillows they like and use regularly. (They’ve also since contributed some additional testing.)

A pile of neck pillows on a wood table. We looked for the best neck pillow available.

Boarding a red-eye without a travel pillow in your bag is like choosing to sleep on the floor when there’s a perfectly good futon nearby. Sure, it’s no bed, but it’s a hell of a lot better than hardwood. In an interview she did in 2017 with The Atlantic reporter Kelly Conaboy, Dr. Mary O’Connor, then the director of Yale’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care, said that despite a lack of clinical studies that support the efficacy of travel pillows, “Many of us who travel have experienced falling asleep with our neck in a weird position and it bothering us thereafter. So, I think they can be helpful, but that depends on how they’re used and whether they support the neck.” In other words, using a supportive pillow may decrease the chances you wake up with an unwanted crick. It certainly has in our experience.

However, not all travel pillows are the same, and if you also happen to have a zealous hatred of your travel pillow, you probably have a bad one. So even if you have a generic pillow you picked up at some airport a few years ago, consider upgrading to one of our picks. And of course, these pillows work well on buses and trains, too.

So how can you tell if a pillow is likely to actually support your head? Rebecca Robbins, a postdoctoral fellow studying sleep at the time of our interview, says the best travel pillows will keep your head elevated and in alignment with your spine: “Look for something that would really be supportive. My one gripe with most travel pillows is that they’re too soft and not too full—you want something that will be supportive as you try to get comfortable in your limited space.” Robbins also recommends finding a pillow that can keep you cozy but not too hot, as she says it’s easier to sleep with a lower body temperature.

Our recommended best travel pillows: The Cabeau and Travelrest pillows are in stuff sacks; the Trtl and Bcozzy pillows are collapsed and lying flat on a table.

Robbins does her best to avoid one common travel situation. “My number one sleep tip is to not take a red-eye if you can avoid it,” she said. “If the flight is five hours, you’re going to only have three hours of true rest, because all the announcements—‘lower your window,’ ‘raise your window.’ Those can be significant distractions.”

We also looked at existing editorial reviews for guidance. Ethan Green , founder of the sleep resource blog No Sleepless Nights, compiled an extensive comparative review of popular travel pillows that we found helpful when deciding what models to test.

For people who want a travel pillow that will ease some of the discomfort of sleeping upright on a bumpy plane ride, we’ve identified the following key features:

  • Comfort and support: The pillow should offer ample support for the weight of your neck and head but not restrict your movements or feel too tight.
  • Portable (but not inflatable): You don’t want your travel pillow to take up so much space in your carry-on that you can’t bring other things you need, so it should compress to a smaller size. Barring that, there should at least be a way to clip it to the outside of your bag or luggage. Inflatable pillows are easy to pack but should be avoided. They inevitably spring a leak, often sooner rather than later.
  • Soft: The material should feel plush against your skin but not trap so much heat that it’s uncomfortable to wear.
  • Universal fit (or as close as possible): The pillow should allow space for people to sleep with a ponytail or accommodate bigger hair, as well as a whole variety of head shapes and sizes and neck lengths.
  • Sleeping styles: It should also accommodate people who move their head in any direction while they sleep. It should also work in a window, a middle, or an aisle seat.
  • Speed of compression/decompression: In case you need to quickly stow your pillow before exiting the plane, or if you want to catch some shut-eye in a moment’s notice, it shouldn’t take too long to stuff the pillow into its carrying case or unfold it to full size.
  • Weight: Ideally, the pillow shouldn’t add undue burden to your carry-on. While inflatable pillows will always be the lightest option, memory-foam pillows don’t weigh much more and can offer significantly more comfort.
  • Grip/traction: Your head will likely move around a bit while sleeping on a plane, especially if there’s turbulence. So any kind of grip or traction around the bottom of the pillow will help it stay in place and keep you snoozing.
  • Machine washable: As you might expect from a vessel that ferries hundreds of people back and forth across the sky on a daily basis, planes can be filthy. So you’ll want to be able to wash the whole pillow—or at least its cover—before you take it on your next trip.

We researched more than 40 travel pillows—which ranged from variations on a hemi-doughnut to inscrutable crowdfunded designs—and after comparing hundreds of glowing and enraged Amazon reviews, we decided to test eight. We asked a panel of 10 people to try each of the pillows in a chair pushed against the wall of a conference room (the closest we could come to airline conditions in our office) and surveyed them on the fit, comfort, and support of each pillow. The panelists all had a variety of neck lengths and jaw sizes, and one even had a substantial beard. We also ran all of the pillows or their detachable pillowcases through a washing machine as instructed to see how well each stood up to a spin cycle and tumble dry.

And because simulations are rarely enough, I brought eight travel pillows on two cross-country flights to see how the pillows felt in the specific back design of an airplane seat. As I was lucky enough to have unnecessarily kind and understanding neighbors (thank you, Mike and Deborah!), I wore each of these pillows in a window, a middle, and an aisle seat to see if they felt comfortable in each configuration. I also tried on Deborah’s Muji travel pillow (as she offered), but determined it had much less support than our picks. I also carried all of our picks on two more cross-country flights on a different airline to ensure the pillows did just as well in different seat designs.

The Travelrest Ultimate pillow, a firm donut-shaped neck pillow, resting on a blanket. The recommended best travel pillow.

The Travelrest Ultimate remains our top pick after several years because its plush but firm memory-foam core offers more support to your neck than that of any other pillow. It’s also one of the few pillows we tested that felt specifically designed for an airline seat, with an angled, grippy back that aligns perfectly to both upright and reclined positions and ensures the pillow won’t slide down as you nod off. The velvety-soft pillow supports heads and necks of all sizes and can be fitted with an adjustable cord and clasp. In the tried-but-true shape of a hemi-doughnut—imagine a doughnut with a bite taken out—the Travelrest Ultimate may look like other pillows, but a number of thoughtful details make it a softer, more supportive pillow than all the rest.

The Travelrest offers better all-around support than any other pillow we tested. Its broad, marshmallowy walls hug the whole circumference of your neck. It feels supportive but not stifling. The easy-to-fasten Velcro strap means it can be adjusted to a snug fit for necks of many sizes. There’s even a small crevice for curlier hair or a ponytail.

In addition to fitting your neck, the Travelrest’s back tapers up to a point to fit flat against an airline seat back. Most neck pillows lack this tapering on the back and the excess padding can push your neck away from the headrest, causing your neck to droop forward. Additionally, the Travelrest has grippy dots on the back that prevent it from slipping.

The best travel pillow, the Travelrest Ultimate, showing the grippy back side.

In addition to its excellent support, the Travelrest is very comfortable and cozy to wear. Its memory-foam core is wrapped in velour, which kept my neck warm without overheating it. The Travelrest’s velour also felt softer and smoother against my skin than similar coverings on other pillows, such as the Cabeau Evolution. It’s also easy to clean: The Travelrest’s cover is easily unzipped and machine-washable. The velour retained its softness after going through a wash and dry cycle.

While the Travelrest isn’t inflatable, it packs down to the size of a roll of toilet paper in its carrying case. Once you fold it cinnamon-roll style and it’s small enough to fit inside the bag, a Velcro strap on the pouch helps you compress it even further. If there’s still not enough space for it in your bag, you can always clip its drawstring to any exterior loop.

All of these thoughtful details were not lost on our testing panel. They gave the Travelrest the highest marks of any pillow in comfort and neck support, and two-thirds of our testers picked it as their favorite pillow.

How the Travelrest has held up

After over a year of use, this pillow had lost none of its supportiveness. The memory foam was just as firm and springy as it was when we bought it. Its velcro strap was still easy to secure. If it fits you, this is a pillow that stays secure and comfortable on your neck for the duration of a long flight. However, we’ve also heard from multiple travelers that this pillow doesn’t fit them. The memory foam is quite firm, which offers excellent support, but not much give. If a pillow of up to 5 inches doesn’t fit comfortably on your neck, we think you’ll be happier trying one of our other picks.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The Travelrest Ultimate will never compress to the thin, flat size of a tiny pillow like the Trtl. But its unparalleled, cushiony support can still pack down to a reasonable size, and its 13 ounces won’t make your carry-on noticeably heavier. And if saving space is your highest concern, we think the Trtl provides space-conscious support without the spit-filled fuss of an inflatable pillow.

While the Travelrest’s voluminous plush can support all heads that lean left, back, or right, the pillow may not hold up the chins of people with smaller faces. When my head bobbed forward, my small face sank into the gap between the pillow closure and my neck. You can adjust the Velcro strap for a tighter fit, but the short strap cannot be pulled as tight as the Cabeau’s adjustable strings.

The Travelrest Ultimate’s unbeatable support is in part due to the height of its sides, designed to come up to the jaw of the wearer. This means the pillow may be incompatible with larger over-the-ear headphones for people with shorter necks. For instance, when I tried to wear the Travelrest Ultimate with my noise-cancelling Bose headphones , the pillow pushed the headset uncomfortably far up on my head, taking my earlobes with it. However, my editor, who has a longer neck, didn’t have this problem.

The donut-shaped Cabeau neck pillow resting on a blanket.

If you want a tighter, more adjustable fit, the Cabeau Evolution Classic  (which used to be called just the Evolution) is the way to go. Its contoured memory-foam design offers almost as much neck support as our main pick does, albeit without some of the Travelrest’s luxurious height. But the Cabeau’s adjustable clasp allows a far greater range of cinching than the Travelrest. In other words, the pillow can fit as tightly as you like.

Like the Travelrest, the Cabeau’s hemi-doughnut shape offers 360 degrees of support for anyone wearing it. It also boasts a cushioned memory-foam core and a contoured top that will keep your neck upright and head in place. But unlike the Travelrest’s gently arched bottom, the Cabeau’s flat bottom won’t sit as securely on your shoulders and may move around during your sleep. The Cabeau also lacks the Travelrest’s smartly tapered, grippy back that helps keep the pillow in place during flight. The Cabeau’s velour cover is also machine-washable, but it feels less soft than the Travelrest’s.

The Cabeau's cover comes off the foam core with a zipper.

Although the Cabeau’s fit and shape aren’t quite as good as the Travelrest’s, this pillow is more adjustable. It can be tightened or loosened with two adjustable strings that clip together, which results in a far more adjustable range than the Travelrest’s short strip of Velcro. If you have a smaller neck and know you find a tighter grip on your neck comforting, the Cabeau may be the way to go.

Like the Travelrest, the Cabeau also packs down to a quarter of its size, thanks to an adjustable strap bisecting its carrying case. But at 15.2 ounces, it’s a bit heavier than the Travelrest.

Unlike any of our other picks, the Cabeau Evolution is sold in many of those ubiquitous news stores inside airports. So if you find yourself lacing up your shoes after security and wishing you had bought one of our picks before your flight, look for the Cabeau’s contoured shape among the novelty hemi-doughnuts dangling off the travel pillow racks. It’s the best pillow you can buy at an airport. But if you have the chance to order online, the Travelrest offers more support.

There is a newer model of the Evolution Classic, the S3 , which has straps to hook onto a seat’s headrest. We think it’s a good choice if the Classic version is out of stock or otherwise unavailable. It’s still supportive and comfortable, but not as thick or soft as the Classic.

The Trtl is less a pillow and more a plush neck brace.

The Trtl Pillow , though odd-looking and unconventional, won a contingent of ardent fans with its firm support and slim, packable size. But it’s not our top pick because it works on only one side, and its warmth-trapping fleece can cause your neck to overheat. It’s also the most expensive of our picks. The Trtl consists of an arched plastic skeleton inside of a soft, fleece scarf that wraps once around your neck and then closes with Velcro to hold the pillow in place. You just lean your head against the convex end of the bendy frame, wrap the pillow around your neck, and your head has a soft but firm pedestal on which to rest while you sleep. It sounds weird, but it’s not that different from a neck brace—only it’s one-sided and softer.

Because the Trtl Pillow is little more than a scarf with a plastic plate in it, it packs down to the size of a sandwich and can lay flat against the back of your bag. This is the smallest travel pillow we tested and also requires none of the squashing or awkward cinching it takes to stuff the Travelrest or Cabeau into their holding bags, which are also easy to lose. Unlike any of the other pillows we’ve seen, the Trtl is small enough to fit inside a briefcase or handbag, making it the best option for people who don’t normally travel with backpacks. And at a featherweight 5 ounces, the Trtl is the lightest pillow we tested.

Though the Trtl can support your head from only one side, the tall, bendy plastic frame inside offered more support on that one side than either the Travelrest or Cabeau. Yet even with its soft, wraparound design, it lacks the all-around support provided by our top and runner-up picks. If you are an asymmetrical sleeper (if you prefer sleeping with your head leaning to one side), the Trtl may be a good choice. However, it’s not a good choice for people who nod forward—the plastic insert is too stiff. If that’s you, we prefer the Bcozzy, which we talk more about below .

A closeup of a hand holding the Trtl's cover open to show the lightweight frame inside.

Some testers found the Trtl’s quasi-corseted-turtleneck design off-putting. But then again, no one looks cool wearing any travel pillow. And on that note, the Trtl’s cozy fleece will keep your neck toasty. So if you know you run hot, the Trtl may not be the pillow for you.

Wirecutter’s Ganda Suthivarakom swears by the Trtl: “It packs almost flat, weighs next to nothing, and can be helpful for sleeping even when you are stuck in a middle seat. As someone who is always cold on the plane, I don't mind the whole fleece scarf design, either.”

Trtl has a more padded version of the pillow that claims to be more adjustable; one of our longer-necked staffers tried it and reported that it is indeed more comfortable for him than the original Trtl was. However, the same limitations of the original apply to the new version.

The Bcozzy is another donut-type pillow, but it's longer and thinner, enabling a more coiled configuration.

The Bcozzy is a snakelike spin on the traditional hemi-doughnut that’s perfect for anyone traveling with large headphones or people who tend to nod forward while sleeping and wake themselves up. It lacks the tall, supportive sides of our other picks, but the overlapping front is the perfect height to keep your chin from nodding forward as you doze off. It’s not as supportive on the sides, but this leaves ample room for big headphones.

The Bcozzy’s best advantage is its overlapping circular design, which allows you to adjust the pillow to degrees of personal preference. You can place the overlapping ends of the pillow around any point of your neck (though it only really makes sense in the front or on the sides), and wear the pillow as loose or as tight as you’d like. We think it’s most comfortable when the ends meet right under your neck—and in that position, it cushions your chin better than any other pillow we tested.

The longer, leaner Bcozzy lacks the plush, ensconcing neck support of the Travelrest Ultimate or Cabeau Evolution. It lays so low on your shoulders that it might not even touch your jaw. But this makes the pillow perfect for anyone who likes to wear over-the-ear headphones along with a travel pillow while they sleep on the flight. I personally like to fall asleep to music and drown out the dull roar of an airplane, so the Bcozzy works perfectly for me.

We still think the Travelrest Ultimate is a superior overall hemi-doughnut pillow, but the Bcozzy is an excellent choice if you plan to wear big headphones or know the feeling of that sharp, waking drop when your head falls forward on a plane.

The Bcozzy's small fabric loop for fastening.

The Bcozzy is also one of the least packable pillows, as it doesn’t come with a carrying case and does not compress particularly well. But its 7.4 ounces is around half the weight of the Travelrest or Cabeau, and it does comes with a little loop that clips onto the outside of a backpack or duffel. And even when squished down at the bottom of a bag, it doesn’t take up that much more space than the Travelrest Ultimate or Cabeau.

If you’re a back sleeper who can fall sleep sitting upright in your seat, facing forward, and not need to curl up or lean your head on the airplane window: You may want to try the Posture+ Travel Pillow, which is a U-shaped neck cushion, padded with memory foam, that looks like the back half of a cervical collar. When testing it, we slept surprisingly well, but it won’t suit all (or even most) sleep styles. It’s also not machine-washable, and it is pricy.

If you have a shorter neck and tend to run hot on planes and would prefer a pillow designed to keep you cool: Consider the ventilated Cabeau Evolution Cool —the combination of a silky polyester cover (similar to spandex) and vented design did feel mildly cooler against our necks. And we liked the pillow’s silky feel, packable size, zippered carrying case. But it was significantly smaller than the standard Cabeau Evolution and the Travelrest Ultimate, and it left the chins of long-necked testers totally unsupported. It’s also more expensive—now about $20 more than the Travelrest.

If you always lean to the same side when sleeping: Consider Travelrest’s All-in-One , which has a novel across-the-shoulder design that could be comfortable in such a situation. It has a similar fabric to the company’s winning Ultimate Memory Foam Neck Pillow, but in our tests its bulky inflated tube offered no structured head support, which could pose a problem in bumpy conditions.

If you tend to be a forward-falling head bobber: Consider the Caldera Releaf , which is less travel pillow and more neck brace. It does offer superior neck support, but it constricted the throat too much for our comfort.

The Trtl Pillow Plus , a later addition to the Trtl lineup, is more height-adjustable and has more padding than its older sibling . Our self-described “giraffe-necked” tester said that it did indeed fit him better than the original Trtl had. However, it still supports your head from only one side, making it not a great choice for sleepers who nod forward. It’s also bulkier than the original and costs nearly twice as much.

The Cabeau Evolution S3 is a newer version of our runner-up pick , the Evolution Classic. We liked it, and we think it’s a solid choice if the original Evolution isn’t available. It has added straps that you can hook onto a headrest to keep your head from falling forward while you sleep, but our runner-up pick is softer and slightly thicker, which offers a bit more support. We did find the S3 to be easier to roll up into its carrying case, however.

Intrigued by one of the stranger innovations that we’ve seen in travel pillow design, we tested the Huzi Design Infinity , but we can’t recommend it. Instead of cinching or clasping at the front, it is designed to be looped several times around the wearer’s neck like an infinity scarf. But the pillow failed to support our testers’ necks. Regardless of who tried it, testers found that looping it twice was too loose and thrice was too tight. It was also the largest and least compressible pillow we tested.

The J-Pillow offered a singular, three-pronged design that proved impossible for anyone to figure out without instructions. After some explanation, our testers could wear the pillow correctly, but they still felt that its squishy stuffing offered insufficient support, and only to one side of the head. It’s also impossible to pack away efficiently due to its pyramidal shape. If you want a one-sided pillow, skip this and go for the Trtl instead.

We tested the inexpensive Travelrest Curl because we loved its plush and contoured big cousin, the Travelrest Ultimate. But while the Curl contains the same luxurious memory-foam filling as the Ultimate, the pillow is so small that many testers found that it didn’t even come up to their jaws when worn. It does have an attractive price, but its skimpy size and unsupportive design could support only the shortest of necks.

We found the air-filled Sea to Summit Aeros Traveller Pillow to be similarly lacking. We liked how easy it was to fill—its dual-valve inflation mechanism means it won’t let air out between breaths—and we appreciated that it weighed only about a fifth as much as the Travelrest, but the Travelrest’s 360-degree support made it too hard to go back to an open-ring design that offers no support in the front. Also, one of our former freelance writers recently reported that when she pulled her pillow out of storage, after a few years of not using it, its internal bladder disintegrated in her hands.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Rebecca Robbins, postdoctoral fellow at the NYU Center for Healthful Behavior Change , phone interview , October 20, 2017

Meet your guide

best air travel pillows

Sabrina Imbler

Sabrina Imbler is a former staff writer for Wirecutter, where they covered kitchen tools and HVAC.

Further reading

A person sitting on a couch wearing a black Pluto Pod Travel Pillow with the eye mask pulled over their eyes.

Pluto Pod Travel Pillow: A First-Class Sleep Experience in Economy

by Dorie Chevlen

This travel pillow is so great you won’t even care if you look silly wearing it.

The Trtl travel pillow.

The Silly-Looking Trtl Travel Pillow Is the Only Way I Can Sleep on Flights

by Elissa Sanci

You might look funny while wearing the one-sided Trtl travel pillow in flight, but you won’t care when you land at your destination bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

A selection of our favorite gifts for travelers, including Aesop travel cosmetics, a book on national parks, an eye mask, and more.

The 31 Best Gifts for Frequent Travelers

by Samantha Schoech and Dorie Chevlen

Here we present practical and whimsical finds to delight any intrepid traveler.

One of our testers, in a side-sleeping position on one of our picks

The Best Pillow for Side Sleepers

by Jackie Reeve

We recommend the Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow for most side-sleepers. If you prefer a smoother cover, get Nest Bedding's Easy Breather Pillow .

Every product is independently selected by (obsessive) editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

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The 11 Very Best Travel Pillows

Because in-flight sleep is possible, even in the middle seat..

Portrait of Katherine Gillespie

In this article

Best travel pillow overall.

  • Best less-expensive
  • Best memory-foam
  • Best inflatable
  • Best for specific seats
  • Best for sleeping on the tray table
  • Best for traveling with kids

While buying a travel pillow at the airport is always an option, I’ve been sleeping much better on planes since I started planning my in-flight sleep routine ahead of time. A good travel pillow also suits your sleeping position, especially if you’re a side sleeper who tends to get stuck in the dreaded middle seat. It should pair well with a light-blocking eye mask as well as earplugs to drown out engine noise. And the best travel pillows are not only comfortable but also easy to pack — they shouldn’t be a nuisance once you arrive at your destination.

To find travel pillows for every kind of sleeper and traveler, my fellow Strategist travel writer, Rachael Griffiths, and I asked frequent fliers for their picks, then tested those out for ourselves on both long-haul and domestic flights. We also spoke to chiropractors about the science behind travel pillows. While you’re here, you may want to check out my guides to the best carry-on luggage and the best refillable toiletry bottles .

What we’re looking for

First, consider the type of travel pillow you’re interested in: U-shaped versions that go around the neck or traditional flat pillows that have been shrunken down for portability are most common. U-shaped pillows are designed to prevent lateral bending in the neck — “It’s that move to sort of pinch the cell phone between your shoulder and ear,” says Dr. Carla Fischer , the director of quality and patient safety at NYU Langone Spine Center. That bending to the side, she says, is the most important thing to prevent, but not everyone sleeps in the same position or has the same concerns, so I’ve included several styles in this story.

Below you’ll find pillows made with memory foam, filled with beads, or are inflatable — each of which has its own pros. Dr. Claire Fitzpatrick, founder of Bed-Stuy Chiropractic, believes that memory foam is the most “accommodating” when it comes to travel. When I asked her what she meant, she explained that “if you get a medium to medium-firm memory-foam sort of pillow, it accommodates you, but it doesn’t let you dig into it too much.”

When it comes to thickness “the sides should come up to the height of your earlobes,” says Wainani Arnold , founder of the Wainani Wellness Center and in-flight wellness expert for Hawaiian Airlines. “The back of the neck pillow should be flat or only as thick as the distance between the back of your neck to the back of your head (one to two inches). If it is too thick in the back, the pillow will push your neck forward from the chair too much and will potentially dump your head back, which is not ideal for your neck.”


Between a carry-on and a personal item, both stuffed to the brim, finding room for something as large as a pillow can be cumbersome. The most packable among travel pillows are the inflatable ones. Others filled with memory foam or cotton are a little trickier to deal with — but are likely more comfortable. This is a trade-off, depending on how long your flight is. And often, neck pillows often have a snap closure at the front that can easily be used to secure it to the handle of your suitcase.

Trtl Pillow

Shape: Neck pillow | Fill: No fill | Thickness: Thin | Packability: Easy

This is the travel pillow I use when I journey from New York City to my hometown of Perth, Western Australia. That’s about 23 hours of flying, and I’ll spend at least half of that time sleeping peacefully thanks to the Trtl. This device is like a scarf crossed with an Elizabethan collar and achieves the main goal of a neck pillow — preventing lateral bending in the neck — thanks to the plastic brace stowed inside its padding. You can adjust this brace and choose which side you prefer nodding off toward.

Griffiths is also a Trtl fan. “The first time I tested out the Trtl, I was out like a light,” she says. “The brace’s angle hits just right: There is no sloping so much that your neck bends unnaturally, but it’s supportive enough for you to relax into a decent sleep.” Lauren Maternowski, editor at Pack Hacker, likes that it allows her to fully lean against the seat’s headrest, and former Strategist staffer Rosie Percy also found that with the adjustable Trtl she was “able to sleep through a flight for the first time in my adult life, touching down feeling refreshed and without a crick in my neck.” The Points Guy’s travel editor, Madison Blancaflor, says the Trtl is the only way to survive long-haul flights in economy. And Scott Keyes of Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights) also echoes all this praise: “What I like about it is its versatility. It lets you sleep decently even if you’re in the middle seat, and this one is small enough to easily tuck into your backpack.”

Best less-expensive travel pillow

Samsonite Magic 2-in-1 Travel Pillow with Pocket in Charcoal

Shape: Neck and lumbar pillow | Fill: Not listed | Thickness: 2 inches | Packability: Average

If you aren’t exactly sure if you’ll need neck support or lumbar support, a convertible pillow like this might be your best bet. This neck pillow folds up into a square-shaped pillow that can then be used on your lower back or up against a window. It can also be rolled up into the built-in pocket for storage — which is great for saving space and also shielding the pillow from any germs in the airport. Taryn White of The Trip Wish List tells me it has teeny pockets for earbuds, gum, and mints, a big pro if you usually find yourself rummaging around to find your essentials mid-flight. It has a less convenient hook (compared to a strap) to secure it to your luggage, but the snaps that close the front of the pillow provide another option for strapping it on. I couldn’t track down the fill used in this pillow, but the general consensus from reviewers is that it is “firm but not too hard for me and my aching neck” (according to one reviewer on the Bed,Bath & Beyond website).

Best memory-foam travel neck pillow

Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Shape: Neck pillow | Fill: Memory foam | Thickness: 5 inches | Packability: Easy

I’ll admit that sometimes I cheat on my Trtl with Cabeau’s more traditional-looking travel pillow, which is a vast improvement on the ones you can buy at the airport. It’s a U shape, but with slightly raised sides to stop your head from slumping (and supports your jaw to prevent open-mouth breathing, says travel blogger Carmen Sognovi ). It’s made from memory foam, and it has a flattened back, which allows it to be flush with the chair. This helps your spine align with the chair for more comfort (according to Fitzpatrick). But the best feature is the adjustable strap that fastens the travel pillow to a headrest — which prevents you from flopping forward once you’re sound asleep. Once I’m locked into my Cabeau, I have no choice but to sleep, and I’ve successfully snored away for countless hours while wearing it. I’ll also note that while it takes up more space than the Trtl, the Cabeau stuffs easily into a surprisingly chic circular bag that clips to the outside of my backpack or over the luggage handle of my suitcase.

Best inflatable travel neck pillow

Cabeau Air Evolution Inflatable Pillow

Shape: Neck pillow | Fill: Inflatable | Thickness: Adjustable | Easy to pack

The same brand also makes an inflatable version of its travel pillow — and though I generally don’t like inflatable pillows, this one is a good option. It inflates to five inches thick but is just the size of a soda can when deflated. Just like the memory-foam pillow, this one has a flat back to help keep your neck in line with the seat, and it has a neck strap to keep your head super-stable. “They are a bit higher than most neck pillows and have a special toggle you can connect and tighten so the pillow doesn’t fall off,” says Jennifer Lachs of Digital Nomad Girls . Lachs admits that the memory-foam pillow above is “even more comfortable,” but the inflatable is better if you want to travel light. (Initially, I thought that inflatable was synonymous with adjustable — the more air you put in, the taller it will be, and less air will make it less firm — but Fischer said it’s a bad idea to not fill up these pillows all the way, as that’s not how they were designed to be used.)

Best inflatable travel lumbar pillow

Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Travel Pillow

Shape: Lumbar pillow | Fill: Inflatable | Thickness: 2 inches | Packability: Easy

Here’s a different type of travel pillow — it’s designed for lumbar (rather than neck) support. As a WFH-er who’s rather particular about ergonomic office chairs , I notice the lack of lumbar support on airport seats whether it’s long- or short-haul flights. “In a proper chair, the lumbar part should actually push out to support that curve in your low back, but they don’t do that on planes, because if they did, it would affect their seating, so a lot of them curve in,” says Dr. Jared Hoffman of Williamsburg Chiropractic . His recommended solution is this pillow that inflates to two inches thick and reduces stress on the joints and discs of your lower back by supporting that lower-back curve. Hoffman not only recommends it to patients but says “this I have used personally and I think it’s one of the best products I’ve come across.” And as it’s inflatable, it’s super-easy to travel with — just deflate and roll into your bag once you disembark.

Best travel pillow for the middle seat

Travelrest Ultimate Travel Neck Pillow

Shape: Neck pillow | Fill: Inflatable | Thickness: 3.5 inches | Packability: Easy

This inflatable pillow is worn like a sash, and it gives you something to loll your head against (apart from the person sitting next to you). On a recent flight to Italy, Griffiths chose the dreaded middle seat on purpose to see how well the Travelrest really works. “I’m obsessed with this hideous inflatable golf club,” says travel writer Teddy Minford, who first told us about the unique travel pillow. “It creates something to lean against, even if you’re in the middle seat.” After testing it, Griffiths agrees with Minford that the pillow gives you something to rest your head against — and she successfully managed to get a few hours of sleep on her early flight. Though she felt herself sloping a little toward the side she was resting on, she was overall impressed with how much the pillow improved the usually uncomfortable experience of middle seating. It was also super-easy to transport: When deflated, it rolls up to the size of an iPhone.

Best travel pillow for the window seat


Shape: Head and neck pillow | Fill: Polyester filling | Thickness: 3 inches | Packability: Easy

The aptly named J-Pillow has a main body that supports the crook of your neck and a cushion extending below the chin to stop your head sliding forward. Mercedes Arielle is a window-seat person and says the J-Pillow is best at cradling her head, shoulder, and chin on flights. For Arielle, that three-pronged support is essential “because I rest my head against the window so I can maximize every inch of my window seat.” Griffiths tried one, too, and liked how the chin cushion didn’t extend too far around her neck and the main body of the pillow opened up in a V-shape so she could really wedge her head inside. The material felt more luxurious than the average travel pillow as well — it has a fleecy lining that you can nuzzle down into. It has become her go-to for train journeys, because it’s cushy enough to absorb the vibrations of the tracks. You can compress the pillow to half its size in a carry bag, then use its loops to attach it to your luggage.

Best travel pillow for tray-table sleeping

Ostrich Pillow Original Napping Pillow

Shape: Head pillow  | Fill: Polystyrene microbeads | Thickness: Not listed | Packability: Challenging

Mid-overnight flight, the tray table can begin to look very tempting — but it’s far from a comfortable or stable surface. For some extra padding, Fitzpatrick likes this pillow that’s more like a helmet. It covers all sides, including the forehead, so it can be used in a number of situations. There is a hole for your mouth so you can breathe, but otherwise it’s a pillow, eye mask, and noise-canceling headphones all in one. Once out of the box, however, it could be cumbersome to travel with.

Best pillow for traveling with kids

Huzi Infinity Pillow

Shape: Neck pillow | Fill: Polyester filling | Thickness: Not listed | Packability: Easy

The Huzi pillow, like an extremely plush scarf, can wrap around your neck or lower back — or even both at the same time — to create a highly customized, optimum sleeping position. Writer and mom-of-one Chantel Tattoli says that this pillow is her foolproof method for traveling with her child. She notes it has an almost mystical effect on her daughter on long flights. “Generally, she seems to accord a magical ‘fairy ring’ quality to this fluffy circle, as if once she’s thrown it over her, she’s staked some space in which things are pretty good,” says Tattoli. The Huzi’s design makes it a great pick for those with scoliosis, too. “Even mild scoliosis can affect your comfortable position in a tight seat,” says Fitzpatrick. “The adjustable lemniscate-type pillows can be good for this.” Wearing it through the airport like a scarf also makes it easy to carry, but if you’d rather throw it in your bag, it rolls up neatly into a little ball.

Best travel knee pillow

Circa Air Inflatable Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers

Shape: Knee pillow | Fill: Inflatable | Thickness: Adjustable | Packability: Easy

Some people can’t fall asleep without a knee pillow — musician Waxahatchee is one of them, and this used to present a problem when she went on tour for months at a time. Because a plush pillow is hard to pack, she found this inflatable one that she says has been life-changing. It takes just three big breaths to blow up and is surprisingly soft. “I don’t overinflate it — I leave a little bit of air out of it so it has a bit of squish,” she says.

Best stuffable travel pillow

Cosy Collection The Nab (Neck and Bag) Pillow Stuffable with Clothes

Shape: Neck pillow | Fill: User’s choice | Thickness: Adjustable | Packability: Average

If you’re flying on a budget airline and trying to pack light , you could opt for this stuffable travel pillow as a way of sneaking extra clothes onto the plane. Jasmine Anderson and Natasha Wilson (travel agents and co-hosts of the podcast Travel Fly Sexy ) both recommend it. “It’s a great hack because you can fit extra T-shirts, shorts, and swimwear into something that no one is looking at you sideways for because it’s a pillow,” says Wilson. And while there are numerous versions of this kind of pillow on the market, I especially like this one because it is covered in a plush fabric for extra comfort and clips at the front for extra neck support.

Some more travel pillows we’ve written about

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow

Our experts

• Jasmine Anderson , co-host, Travel Fly Sexy • Mercedes Arielle, fashion and travel blogger at Calculated Opulence • Wainani Arnold, founder of the Wainani Wellness Center and in-flight wellness expert for Hawaiian Airlines • Katie Crutchfield, musician, Waxahatchee • Dr. Carla Fischer, director of quality and patient safety at NYU Langone Spine Center • Dr. Claire Fitzpatrick, founder of Bed-Stuy Chiropractic • Dr. Jared Hoffman, Williamsburg Chiropractic • Scott Keyes, Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) • Jennifer Lachs, founder of  Digital Nomad Girls • Kat Lopez, freelance writer • Lauren Maternowski, editor at Pack Hacker • Teddy Minford, travel writer • Rosie Percy, former Strategist associate director of e-commerce-audience-development strategy • Dr. Rebecca Robbins , sleep specialist and Harvard Medical School instructor • Stella Shon, writer at The Points Guy • Carmen Sognovi , travel blogger • Chantel Tattoli , freelance writer • Taryn White, founder of The Trip Wish List • Natasha Wilson , co-host, Travel Fly Sexy

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The best travel pillows for taking on a long flight

By Lauren Burvill and Charley Ward

Best travel pillows 2024 tested by our editors

If you travel regularly you’ve probably learnt to spot the difference between a frequent flyer and a rookie – the most obvious tell-tale sign being a bulky travel pillow, typically carried by an inexperienced flyer, hanging from a backpack or being worn around the back of their neck before they even get on the plane. Many of us are guilty of buying one of these beanbag worms from the airport duty-free shop, only to realise that they’re more trouble than they’re actually worth.

Do a little research though – as we’ve done for you here – and you might be pleasantly surprised to find that the humble travel pillow has upped its game recently. Specialised brands like  trtl  and  BCozzy  have entered the market, while neck pillows that range in shape and materials have popped up on Amazon.

So which ones are actually worth taking on a flight ? We asked our frequent flying editors to test out the most reviewed styles.

The best travel pillow to buy in 2023 at a glance

  • Best overall: Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow
  • Best for neck support: Trtl travel pillow
  • Best for side sleepers: BCozzy neck pillow and Travelrest pillow
  • Best for price: Ecosafeter portable travel pillow
  • Best lie flat pillow: Mini Snoooze travel pillow

best travel pillows

How we tested the best travel pillows

Every travel neck pillow on this list has been independently tested and reviewed in our office by our editors Charley Ward and Lauren Burvill . Each pillow is then passed on to a member of the wider team to take with them on a flight to further test when travelling. When testing, we look for quality, design features and value for money, as well as overall function and visual appeal.

What are the different types of travel pillow?

There’s a variety of shapes on offer, so think about your personal needs and preferences before making your choice. The main kinds are:

  • Memory foam travel pillows. These mould to your body in a way that’s far superior to the traditional beanbag styles on offer at the airport. Cabeau Evolution and Kierain do these very well, and Ecosafeter’s version also has a slight hump at the back to help relax your spine.
  • Body slings. These styles are great for side sleepers, offering full upper body support that you can lean against while you drift off. Travelrest’s inflatable travel pillow is our favourite, which can be worn cross-body or to your side to create a firmer separation between yourself and your neighbour. Dot & Dot does a similar version that can be twisted however suits, so you can use it around your neck, shoulders or even tucked below your lower back, helping to ease whichever area is most achey.
  • Wraparound neck pillows. These twist around the neck like a scarf, offering double the support of U-shaped designs. They also tend to be cosier as a result. Bcozzy’s has a flat back, to help you keep a better posture, while Huzi’s infinity neck pillow is comfy, soft and scrunchy, allowing you to bunch it up where it suits best.
  • Neck supports. Travel brand Trtl has been upping the ante lately. The brand's signature fleecy wraparound scarf cleverly hides an internal neck and chin support structure that keeps your neck in the optimum upright sleeping position, even in the middle seat or aisle seat. There’s now an adjustable version, as well, providing extra support for those on the taller side. They come with a carry bag that attaches to your rucksack.
  • Mini classic pillows . Perfect for adding a bit more comfort when sitting in first or business class seats – and when in your hotel room too. Snoooze does our favourite, which is 100% machine washable and rolls up into a carry bag just 30 by 11cm, so it’ll tuck nicely in your hand luggage when not in use.

See below for our full take on each of the best travel neck pillows available to buy now.

Cabeau Evolution's S3 travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: overall comfort

If you're looking for a basic does-the-job travel pillow, the one below from Kierain is the ideal buy. But if you're looking for a step above in terms of design and comfort, or suffer from neck or back pain, Cabeau's pillow is the best we've tested so far. The memory foam style has considered everything, from an adjustable toggle clasp to secure the pillow comfortably around your neck, to a handy side pocket – ideal for storing headphones or earplugs. What really sets this pillow apart from the rest though are the velcro straps at the back, designed to loop around a plane seat's headrest, helping to keep your head upright and take any pressure off your neck.

Why we like it:  “I tested this pillow when I flew to Mexico City. The foam in it is extremely comfortable, but what I love most is that the back of the pillow is flat, so you can sit right up against your seat, unlike the typical travel pillow styles which tend to be round and tilt your neck down slightly. The straps are a great idea, but if you're short it might not be possible to secure to the headrest, so keep that in mind. It also comes in a sleek cylindrical bag that, when clipped onto your carry-on luggage , you’d never even know there was a travel pillow inside." Sarah Allard, digital editor

Kierain’s travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: overall value

Kierain has one of the top-rated and best selling  travel pillows on Amazon , and it’s easy to see why. A step above the standard microbead styles, this travel pillow is 100 per cent memory foam with a soft velour cover, plus has an easy-to-use snap closure, making it simple to secure and stay in place.

Why we like it:  “The bag it comes in is surprisingly small (about the size of a small wash bag), so it hardly takes up any room in your  carry on luggage , which is a real plus. The best part though is the plush and squidgy memory foam. I often find the traditional neck pillows too stiff and constricting, but this one was soft while still giving good support.” Sarah James, deputy digital editor

best travel pillow

trtl's original pillow

Best travel pillow for: neck support

Less a pillow and more a supportive wrap for your neck, this unique design from trtl is ideal if you're short on space and weight in your carry-on luggage – it weighs only 148 grams. The pillow is designed to look like a scarf and features a clever curved u-shaped neck support stand that sits under your jaw and is then secured in place by wrapping the fabric around your neck and connecting the velcro.

Why we like it:  “I often feel like most typical travel pillows are too bulky and hard to get comfortable on, so I was keen to try this style when I flew to Vancouver. It's perfect for keeping your neck upright and avoiding any of the nodding that can happen while asleep. I'll admit, it feels a little strange at first to put it on, but the hypoallergenic fleece is soft and warm. It's a great option not just for plane travel, but also long road trips or train journeys.” Sarah James, deputy digital editor

Trtl Travel Pillow Plus

Best travel pillow for: customised support for your exact requirements

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Trtl has revamped its clever wrap-style neck pillow to accommodate people of all heights more comfortably. The latest iteration is adjustable, to better suit your particular requirements, and the pillow section itself has been given a high-density foam makeover. Trtl’s offering is a lot smaller than standard U-shaped pillows, and weighs a petite 225 grams, so it won’t take up precious space in your hand luggage – or you could use the included clip to attach it to your rucksack .

Why we like it: “I tried both the original and the revamped Trtl pillows on a flight to Japan, and this one definitely proved a more comfortable fit. It does take a bit of fiddling to get it to sit properly, and the fleece wrap is certainly cosy – even a bit too warm at points. Reviews are mixed online, but I think it’s worth taking the time to adjust it correctly as, once I did, it made for a far more comfortable experience than using standard U-shaped neck pillows. For long haul flights in coach, it’s certainly worth a try; I had no neck pain at all when I finally disembarked from the plane.” Charley Ward, commerce writer

best air travel pillows

Travelrest pillow

Best travel pillow for: upper body support

This clever across-body-sling pillow offers neck and head support while allowing you to truly relax and lean to one side to fall asleep. The pillow comes with a cord at the top that can be secured in place by looping over your seat’s headrest. You can wear the pillow on either side across your body, or down one side, creating more of a barrier between you and the person next to you. The pillow is inflatable too, so it takes up hardly any room in your luggage

Our verdict:  “This pillow came in handy on a flight to Australia. I really love the shape of this style, as it cradles not just your neck, but your whole upper body. Although I usually don’t like inflatable pillows, the rigidity of this style works to make you feel secure while sitting upright.” Lauren Burvill, commerce editor

best travel pillows

Dot&Dot’s twist travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: flexibility

Made of memory foam, this twist style pillow can be bent and contoured to almost any shape. Its flexibility means it can be worn in several ways, from around the neck to under your head, shoulders or even lower back.

Why we like it:  “I often toss and turn a lot when trying to get to sleep, so I find I’m particularly wriggly when trying to get comfortable on a flight. This kind of flexible twist style of the pillow was perfect for me, as I was able to shape it to exactly where I needed it to be. I ended up settling with it half behind my neck and half under my chin, so I could lie on my side and get a couple of hours of precious sleep.” Lauren Burvill, commerce editor

best travel pillows

Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow

Best travel pillow for: ergonomic design with a luxurious feel

Ostrichpillow has a number of interesting travel pillows (are you brave enough to try this napping aid ?), including a genius padded headband -come-eye mask that makes quickly grabbing some shut-eye while leaning against the window actually comfortable. The Go pillow, however, is the brand’s most traditional offering. It has a memory foam core with a velcro closure to ensure a snug fit, no matter the shape or size of your neck. It compresses down impressively small when stored in the included drawstring travel bag, making it easy to bring along in even the smallest cases. It has a removable and washable cover as well.

Why we like it: “It’s really, really soft, and satisfyingly squishy at the same time; the memory foam filling is clearly high-quality. In fact, out of all the travel pillows I’ve tried, this one feels the most luxurious when in use. It kept my neck at a good angle to avoid aches and pains – it was surprisingly supportive, in fact. It’s easy to adjust and I like that the cover can be slung straight in the washing machine, so it’s ready to go for your next trip.” Charley Ward, commerce writer

best air travel pillows

Ecosafeter’s portable travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: price

The Ecosafeter travel pillow is a memory foam style with a slight “hump” shape that’s designed to help relax the Cervical spine. The design is particularly great for sleeping upright, especially if you suffer from back or neck pain, with added neck support as well as a soft and flexible feel.

Why we like it:  “I find it super difficult to sleep upright, which is why I loved the high back and firm cushioned support on this pillow. I took it with me on an overbooked flight with a 2am takeoff and did manage to get some sleep, admittedly in and out, but that’s better than my usual long haul wide-eyed experience.” Sophie Knight, visuals editor

best travel pillows

BCozzy's neck pillow

Best travel pillow for: side sleepers

Similar to the trtl pillow but padded with soft microfleece and covered with microsuede, BCozzy's wrap-around design offers plenty of flexibility in terms of how you wear it. The pillow comes in two sizes and when wrapped around the neck offers double the support for your head, neck and chin. The real standout of this design is the flat back, which is not only great for maintaining a healthy posture but also means you can fold the pillow in half and wear it on one side.

Why we like it:  “Even on a plane, I'm a side sleeper. My go-to way to snooze is angling the side headrest as far as it can go so I can rest my head in the corner. Headrests can be very hit-and-miss on planes though, so being able to fold the BCozzy pillow in half is ideal as it can prop my neck and chin up on one side without feeling too suffocating." Lauren Burvill, commerce editor

best air travel pillows

Huzi infinity pillow

Best for: warmth

This squishy infinity-style pillow is all about the soft and breathable bamboo fabric it’s made from. Coming in one large loop, the pillow is worn by wrapping around the neck twice and adjusting and scrunching accordingly depending on the level of comfort you’re looking for.

Our verdict:  “I’d say this pillow is less about neck support and more about soft and cosy scarf–meets–pillow hybrid. It feels like a sleeping bag for your neck, ideal if you get cold easily and are looking for something that’s more snuggly rather than stiff.” Lauren Burvill, commerce editor

best air travel pillows

Snoooze travel pillow

Best travel pillow for:  lying flat

One for not just the plane but also the hotel, this flat pillow from Snoooze is particularly suited to business or first class passengers flying in a flatbed. Danish designer Ann Sjogreen Sanger worked with scientists, sleep experts and leading UK manufacturers to create the two travel pillows – a full size and mini option. Both are machine washable, come with a soft 100 per cent cotton pillow case and roll up into compact travel bags – the mini fits into a cylindrical bag that’s 30cm by 11cm.

Why we like it:  “This pillow feels surprisingly full and thick compared to how compact it can be stored. I always struggle with hotel pillows (they’re often too big and fluffy), but the Snoooze feels firm yet squidgy and helped me get proper deep sleep during a hotel stay in Greece recently. I tested the full size, but think the mini can do the same job if you’re short on carry-on space or would prefer to use a flat pillow to get some sleep in economy.”

best travel pillows

Lifeventure inflatable travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: space-saving

You won’t find any bells and whistles with Lifeventure’s inflatable travel pillow, but at £12.99, the price is hard to beat for your standard u-shaped travel pillow. It packs down into a remarkably bijou carrying case and weighs in at just 54 grams. A dual valve makes it easy to blow up very quickly – I inflated it by mouth in two minutes.

Why we like it: “I wasn’t convinced by the idea of an inflatable polyester travel pillow, especially not in comparison to some of the super-soft memory foam numbers I’ve tried (Ostrichpillow cinches it for me in the cosiness stakes). However, I was pleasantly surprised on test. The material is clearly good quality and it provides decent enough neck support when fully inflated. But really, the main plus point of this pillow is how compact and lightweight it is when deflated. It folds down smaller than your average purse. If you have back or neck issues, avoid this one. But if you’re off backpacking, or space in your bag is an especially hot commodity, then this pillow is the one to buy.” Charley Ward, commerce writer

best air travel pillows

Slip travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: fashionistas

Beauty aficionados will know that silk pillowcases are superior to cotton offerings for those seeking smoother, sleeker hair – studies have shown that its slippery, friction-free surface helps to both tackle frizz and reduce stress on delicate facial skin while you slumber. So why compromise when you’re on a plane? Luxury silk pillowcase brand Slip has used the same 22 momme long fibre mulberry silk for its travel pillow as it does its regular cases, along with a super-dense foam inner that secures around the neck with an adjustable strap for 360-degree support. It’s available to purchase separately or as a set with a matching silk eye mask for an extra cost (currently on sale ).

Why we like it:  “This is another unusual option – its vivacious appearance generated some comments in the office upon unboxing. It’s not one for wallflowers; it’s very colourful and one of the largest pillows (if not the largest) we’ve ever seen. Nobody’s going to miss you while you’re wearing it – and if you’re especially petite, it likely won’t suit. Nonetheless, the silky finish feels both luxurious and cooling when around the neck, which doesn’t go amiss on a stuffy aeroplane. The traditional U shape doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but for those seeking a little luxury on long haul flights, this is a welcome treat. Be warned: this pillow isn’t going to squeeze into your suitcase, so bear that in mind, but it gives a high level of support and keeps your neck upright, so a good choice if this is the most comfortable position for you on a plane.” Charley Ward, commerce writer

best air travel pillows

Snugl travel pillow

Best travel pillow for: versatility

Snugl’s well-designed and thoughtful memory foam travel pillow is available in three sizes to ensure you get the best fit (taking a different approach to Trtl, with its adjustable number above). It’s made from quality, hypoallergenic memory foam with a removable washable cover. There are a selection of colours to choose from, and there’s a carabiner clip to attach the travel bag to your suitcase.

Why we like it: “Don’t be fooled by the chunky appearance – this Snugl pillow packs down into an impressively small bag. It toes the line well between portability and being robust enough to ensure a lack of neck ache when you disembark the plane; this really impressed. But what we like the most is how adjustable it is. There are two straps to secure it around your neck to your preferred tightness, and it’s been created to comfortably sit around your neck in either a conventional, reversed, forward facing or shoulder-facing arrangement to accommodate your sleeping style – a real plus for me as a side-sleeper.” Charley Ward, commerce writer

best air travel pillows

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10 top-rated travel pillows for long trips

Tired businessman with neck pillow sleeping on passenger train

Between crowded seats, crying babies and limited leg room, traveling on long flights can be exhausting and uncomfortable. A perfect pillow makes the trek slightly easier to bear and can help you get some sleep during those travel periods. To help you narrow down which travel pillow is right for you, we consulted sleep and travel experts about what to know before shopping, plus we compiled highly rated options to consider.

SKIP AHEAD What are the benefits of travel pillows? | How we picked the best travel pillows | The best travel pillows to consider in 2024 | How to shop for travel pillows

Selected. Our top picks

Cabeau Evolution S3 Sleep Pillow

What are the benefits of travel pillows?

Whether your airplane seat is too small or your bus ride endures several bumps, it may be difficult to relax on a long trip. Add noisy conversations and frequent overhead announcements and you have multiple barriers in your way to getting a good nap.

One of the main reasons people struggle to sleep while traveling — especially on international flights with time changes — is because they’re trying to sleep at a time with “low circadian and homeostatic drive” (a time when they would not normally sleep, so they’re not as tired), says Dr. Andrew Varga, a board-certified physician at The Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center . The other factor, according to Varga, is the sleeping space, which is usually cramped and doesn’t let you lie recumbent or change positions, except in typically pricey business- and first-class cabins.

“Not everyone is an equally deep sleeper, and people with any sleep issues at baseline will often have a harder time sleeping in a louder and less comfortable environment — such as an airplane,” says board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist Dr. Alex Dimitriu . He noted that posture plays a big role in the discomfort we feel — and as anyone who has slept on a plane knows, “the head tends to fall off to the side or forward, which is both uncomfortable and can cause neck pain, and [can] even make breathing less efficient.”

“Sleeping upright is not at all a natural position,” says Dr. Mayank Shukla , a board-certified pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist in New York City. “Our head weighs almost 10 pounds and flops around the neck when sleeping upright, leading to aches and pain with all that muscle strain.”

Experts noted that travel pillows can provide support for the neck and head, alleviating some pain and discomfort when combating an upright sleeping position while traveling. They’re typically portable, lightweight, ergonomically designed and come in different sizes to fit every type of person, plus some have additional high-tech features like temperature regulation. This is an ideal tool for frequent flyers who hope to maintain a semi-regular sleeping schedule.

How we picked the best travel pillows

The best travel pillows are ones that are comfortable, supportive and easy to carry around, according to our experts. When shopping for a quality travel pillow, they recommend considering the following factors:

  • Inflatable vs. non-inflatable : You can adjust inflatable pillows to your desired firmness, and easily store them away when deflated. With non-inflatable pillows, on the other hand, you can fill them with more cushioned materials to promote comfort including memory foam and poly-fiber fill.
  • Portability : Look for features like straps (that you can attach to your luggage ) or an accompanying pouch (that you can pack it down into) for ease while on the go.

best air travel pillows

select Minimize chaos on your next trip with these expert-approved accessories

The best travel pillows to consider in 2024.

Below, we rounded up a selection of the best travel pillows based on NBC Select staff recommendations, ratings and expert advice.

Best overal travel pillow: Cabeau

Cabeau evolution s3 sleep pillow.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Sleep Pillow

  • Straps allow for attachment to headrests
  • Adjustable drawstrings
  • Comes with carrying case
  • Large size may be uncomfortable to some

Former NBC Select editor Christina Colizza says she loves this travel pillow from Cabeau because it prevents slouching by attaching to the plane’s headrest. “As someone who is [very tall], I’ll take all the help I can in getting some sleep while flying, and this pillow makes a huge difference,” she says. “Plus, it compresses down into a small pouch, which makes it convenient enough to schlep around airports.” The headrest attachment also makes this an ideal option for long road trips. This travel pillow comes in five colors and patterns including indigo and galaxy.

Fill material : Memory foam | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Travel bag | Rating : 4.3-star average rating from 7,652 reviews on Amazon  

Best splurge travel pillow: Ostrichpillow

Ostrichpillow go neck pillow.

Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow

  • Full 360-degree neck support
  • Compresses for easy packing
  • Fit around neck may vary

Ostrichpillow offers a variety of unique pillow alternatives, from a napping option to a mini hand pillow . This memory foam one has raised edges for neck support and comes with a velcro strap that allows you to customize its fit. The travel pillow can also compress down to snugly fit inside the included travel bag.

Fill material : Memory foam | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Travel bag | Rating : 4-star average rating from 1,876 reviews on Amazon

Best versatile travel pillow: Huzi

Huzi infinity travel pillow.

Huzi Infinity Travel Pillow

  • Very versatile
  • Bulky: can be hard to carry
  • May be difficult to store

If you’re looking for a pillow with versatility, this option from Huzi may be just what you need. It’s made from a soft, anti-bacterial nylon bamboo that keeps you cool and airy as you sleep, according to the brand. The best part, however, is its scarf-like, 360-degree design — you can move and adjust the pillow however you’d like to target specific areas like your neck, back, chin and more. It can also be wrapped around your head to help muffle noise, or used as support when resting against a plane or car window.

Fill material : Microfiber | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : None | Rating : 4.3-star average rating from 6,307 reviews on Amazon

Best travel pillow for chin support: Bcozzy

Bcozzy chin supporting travel pillow.

BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

  • Stops your head from falling forward
  • Good value for price
  • Full wrap around can feel constrictive

Few things can jolt you awake faster than your head falling forward while you’re seated. This ergonomic neck pillow offers an adjustable front loop for chin support and a flat back to avoid pushing your head forward. It includes a snap strap that you can hook to your luggage or hang up in your car. The pillow comes in multiple colors and you can choose between various sizes ranging from kids small to extra-large .

Fill material : Polyester | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Snap closure  | Rating : 4.2-star average rating from 29,016 reviews on Amazon

Best travel pillow for back support: SmartTravel

Smarttravel inflatable lumbar travel pillow.

SmartTravel Inflatable Lumbar Travel Pillow

  • Easily inflates and deflates
  • Can be used on back as well as neck
  • Hand-wash only

NBC Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg says she likes a lumbar pillow for added back support during long flights. This inflatable pillow serves as both a neck and back pillow, and is designed to fit your body’s natural curves and reduce pressure on the spine and neck, according to the brand. It also comes with an expandable mounting band to easily fasten it to headrests.

Fill material : Inflatable | Machine-washable cover : No | Portable features : Travel bag  | Rating : 4.3-star average rating from 1,262 reviews on Amazon

Best inflatable travel pillow: Sunany

Sunany inflatable neck pillow.

Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow

  • Comes with accessories
  • Quickly inflates and deflates
  • Not very soft

Designed to follow the natural curve of your neck and body, this travel pillow’s ergonomic shape can soothe discomfort and reduce pressure points around your head and neck, according to the brand. You can also place your arms and head inside one of the four holes to support a sleeping position that’s most comfortable for you. It comes with a pouch for storage, along with a matching eye mask and earplugs.

Fill material : Inflatable | Machine-washable cover : No | Portable features : Travel bag | Rating : 4.2-star average rating from 6,696 reviews on Amazon

Best travel pillow for single-side sleepers: Trtl

Trtl travel pillow.

Trtl Travel Pillow

  • Soft, cozy exterior
  • Lightweight and easy to pack
  • Only supports one side at a time

For those who don’t find enough support from traditional U-shaped travel pillows, this uniquely-shaped option comes with a hidden inner support that can hold your head and neck at any position that’s comfortable for you. You can adjust the support to contour your neck, shoulder or jaw, while the fleece exterior is soft and machine-washable.

Fill material: Mesh fabric | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Flat design for easy packing | Rating : 4.0-star average rating from 35,371 reviews on Amazon

Best budget travel pillow: Wolf Essentials

Wolf essentials microfiber neck pillow.

World's Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow

Wolf Essentials Microfiber Travel Pillow

  • Very affordable option
  • Machine-washable
  • Thickness may cause fit issues

This neck pillow’s fleece cover provides soft, thermal comfort, which is perfect for when the plane or vehicle gets cold. It’s entirely machine-washable (not just the cover) and comes with a snap closure to keep it from sliding off of your neck or to connect it to your luggage. 

Fill material : Polyester blend | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Snap closure | Rating : 4.4-star average rating from 10,911 reviews on Amazon

Other travel pillows we love

Crafty world travel neck pillow.

Crafty World Travel Neck Pillow

  • No on-neck fastener

This option comes with a removable and machine-washable cover, so you can easily wash it. It’s made with a memory foam interior and a velour fabric exterior for a soft and comfortable feel, according to the brand. The pillow also has an elastic strap to help you connect it to your suitcase for extra portability. It comes in four colors — black, blue, gray and purple. 

Fill material : Memory foam | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Elastic strap | Rating : 4.3-star average rating from 5,558 reviews on Amazon

Mlvoc Travel Pillow

MLVOC Travel Pillow

  • Includes eye masks, earplugs and carrying bag
  • Affordably priced
  • Bulky; may have issues with fit

With its ergonomic, curved design for neck and head support, this travel pillow comes wrapped in a cover that is both machine-washable and sweat-resistant. The travel pillow comes with a contoured eye mask and earplugs, and can fold down to half its size to fit neatly into the included travel bag. Plus, the built-in snap strap can also latch onto your suitcase for easy portability.

Fill material : Memory foam | Machine-washable cover : Yes | Portable features : Travel bag | Rating : 4.3-star average rating from 33,692 reviews on Amazon

select Whether you’re going away for a week or a weekend, there’s a highly-rated bag on Amazon for you.

How to shop for a travel pillow.

The best travel pillow is one that you find the most comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Ideally, Dimitriu recommends testing out the pillow beforehand to see whether it’s comfortable and how it changes shape.

“The emphasis for most users should be to see how comfortably the pillow lets you rest with your back to the seat and without your head falling forward,” he says. And while larger pillows tend to provide more cushioning, he noted “airplane seats are tight, and there is such a thing as too much pillow.”

Below, we highlighted two of the most important considerations when shopping for travel pillows: inflatability and portability.

Inflatable vs. non-inflatable

When going on a long-haul trip, most travelers don’t want another thing to lug around. “Inflatable pillows may allow for more cushion and can fold to a smaller size,” Dimitriu says, adding that they won’t take up too much space in your luggage. They’re also typically more adjustable — you can change the amount of air to get more or less firmness, depending on your comfort level.

Non-inflatable travel pillows include various types of filling material including memory foam, polyester fiberfill and microbeads. While the different materials can make it easier to find a more comfortable fit, non-inflatable pillows tend to be bulkier than inflatable ones. When it comes to cleaning, both inflatable and non-inflatable pillows typically have removable covers that you can machine wash or spot clean.


If you’re on a multipart journey or backpacking through Europe, for example, the size and portability of your travel pillow may be just as important off a plane as it is on it. Some travel pillows have straps that you can attach to your luggage, while with others you can fold to fit inside a small bag.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Andrew Varga is a board-certified physician at The Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center .
  • Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a board-certified psychiatrist, sleep medicine specialist and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine in Menlo Park, California.
  • Dr. Mayank Shukla is a board-certified pulmonologist and sleep medicine specialist in New York City.

Why trust NBC Select?

Mili Godio is an updates editor at Select and covers a range of sleep topics including weighted blankets , sunrise alarm clocks and blackout curtains .  Ashley Morris is an associate SEO reporter for NBC Select covering skin care, lifestyle and more. For this story, Godio spoke to three sleep medicine experts to get their recommendations on how to shop for travel pillows and their benefits. She also researched dozens of travel pillows on the market that are in line with experts’ guidance.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance , tech and tools , wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook , Instagram , Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

best air travel pillows

Mili Godio is an updates editor for Select on NBC News.

The 9 Best Travel Pillows for Sound Sleep On-the-Go

Say goodbye to that sore neck.

best travel pillows

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

What to Look for in a Travel Pillow

How we selected these travel pillows, pick the perfect travel pillow following these tips from expert chris meehan..

So, how to make the time in the air (or car or train) more relaxing? The right travel pillow may be the ticket the next time you take off somewhere. It's a basic travel accessory that ranks right up there with great luggage and noise-cancelling headphones .

In its U-shaped form, the travel pillow dates back to 1929 when the design was first patented. Its original intent was for use to recline in the bathtub. Since then, its look and feel has changed with modern versions configured in unique shapes to address all different kinds of travelers: long-haul fliers, restless sleepers, window-seat passengers, and more.

A decent travel pillow includes a soft cover using fabrics like brushed polyester, nylon, or microfiber, while the cushioning (or fill) inside should be supportive and comfortable yet structured enough for your head and neck. The fill types commonly used are assorted types of foam, microbeads, and polyester fiber, in addition to those kinds of pillows with an inflatable bladder

Whether you’re a side slumper, leaner on the seat-back, or nose-to-the sky snoozer, there is a pillow here for you. In our review and testing of travel pillows, we’ve found options in a variety of designs, weights, and shapes from under $20 to well over $60. Read on to find the best one for you!

Best Travel Pillows

  • Best Overall Travel Pillow: Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow
  • Best Hot-Sleeper Travel Pillow: Cabeau Evolution S3 Memory Foam
  • Best Bargain Travel Pillow: Cloudz Dual Comfort Microbead Travel Neck Pillow
  • Best Splurge Travel Pillow: Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow
  • Best Side-Sleeper Travel Pillow: Trtl Pillow Plus
The Expert: Taking multiple plane, train, and bus rides every year, I’m familiar with necessary on-the-go accessories like a travel pillow. For instance, I am based in Colorado and last year I flew to Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. My car travels included a road trip to Zion National Park with a buddy. My average trip takes about seven hours between the trains to and from the airport and the plane ride itself. After using quite a few travel pillows, I’ve found that I enjoy a side-sleeping pillow like the J-Pillow for plane rides since I tend to loll off to one side, and I like the traditionally shaped rectangular pillow, the NEMO Fillo, for other types of excursions like bus and car rides as well as car camping. Its combination of padding and inflate-ability make it versatile for many types of trips.

Many of the travel pillows below don’t look like the traditional U-shaped ones with microbeads—and for good reason. The U-shape doesn't work for everyone as it has a tendency to push the neck forward. Also, if the cushioning isn’t high enough on each side, it may cause your head to flop from left to right instead providing a stationary space. Any neck wobble may result in kinks, stiffness, and soreness.

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Those designs that are squared or have flat cushioning behind the neck with more coverage under the chin help keep the head upright. Contoured areas to accommodate the shoulders and help keep the pillows properly aligned.

Depending on how you prefer to rest, the right pillows will ensure some shut-eye on the plane, in the car, or on the train. Here are some factors to consider.

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While many are compact, this will be a factor depending on how light you like to travel. The most compact of all neck pillows is one that’s inflatable. These can deflate to a size smaller than a baseball. Bulkier memory foam pillows, on the other hand, will compress down to about the size of a football.

Most travel pillows weigh under 1 pound, so they’re manageable enough to bring along and to use without putting downward pressure on your shoulders.

U-shape is most common, but it’s not the only form factor out there. Some travel pillows are mini-sized traditionally shaped pillows. Others are coil or donut-shaped to allow for better chin support for slumping sleepers, and at least a few, like the J-Pillow, are designed to offer extra head support for those of us who love to sleep with our head against the wall of a plane or train.

Just like your pillow at home, travel pillows have a range of different fills. Microbeads are likely the stiffest and least compressible while memory foam offers solid support and adjusts to the shape of your head. Inflatable pillows also offer customized cushioning but are sometimes cheaper in design.

Most travel pillows have a soft, fleecy fabric made of polyester, nylon or micro fleece that’s designed for comfort against the face. The fabric of the pillow can also go a long way to describe its washability. Some have covers that are easy to take off and wash. Even some with integrated covers are still machine washable.

The recommendations below are based on my own travel experiences in the air, car, bus, and train. I also looked at customer reviews to gauge what pillows have performed well for most people. Additionally, I considered the work of Paige Szmodis , who investigated pillow options for the previous version of this article.

Overall, these pillows made their way onto red-eye flights, along for road trips (in cars and buses), camping, and even lounging on the couch. Neck support and comfort were factored in as well as portability, durability, washability, and usage. I also considered if pillows came with a storage bag, how well each pillow retained its shape, and what the packed dimensions were versus overall size.

These pillows represent the top options for travelers who go by car, plane, bus, train, or even those who need a good lightweight pillow for laying horizontal in the airport while waiting for their next flight.

Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

With limited space for a bulky pillow when on-the-go, packability is key. The Travelrest Nest packs an amazing amount of memory-foam cushioning into the smallest stuff sack. Even after being compressed in its bag for over a week, the pillow immediately puffed right back into its original shape.

While compact, it doesn’t compromise on support. With 5-inches of thermo-sensitive memory foam on all sides, it conforms to the shape of your neck and shoulders and keeps your head in place no matter if you tend to loll to the front, back, or sides. Unlike many U-shaped pillows, its angled back sits flush against any seat surface without pushing your head forward. Bonu: the nonslip panel helps prevent it from sliding off airplane seats.

At a reasonable price—Travelrest even throws in a travel bag and memory foam earplugs to sweeten the deal—its removable cover retains its velvety softness after cycles in the washer and dryer, though it’s a bit of a tight fit to pull the cover back on over the foam’s contours. The dense foam also makes it a little challenging to fold up into its bag, but once you get it in there, it can compress down to a quarter of its original size. On the down side, its high cushioning could pinch earrings or interfere with larger headphones.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Memory Foam

Evolution S3 Memory Foam

The Cabeau Evolution S3, which has many of the same top features as our Best Overall, is ideal if you sleep a bit on the hot side. Its breathable, moisture-wicking fabric helps to keep you cool and comfortable.

With its U-shaped design, this memory foam pillow prevents lateral movement—your head falling to either side—and features a slimmed flat back so it won’t push your head forward. While the back surface isn’t angled and grippy like the Travelrest, the Cabeau comes with straps to loop around your headrest to keep it in place. Note: These straps may not be compatible with all seat designs and might possibly disturb the person behind you on a flight. Also, with its thick cushioning, the Evolution's height may interfere with certain headphones.

The dense memory foam will take a few seconds to roll up into the travel case but it will hold its shape well after packing away many times. Plus, the polyester cover was easy to slip on and off to wash and dry. A bonus is the travel case which can easily be clipped onto the outside of your bags and luggage.

Cloudz Dual Comfort Microbead Travel Neck Pillow

Dual Comfort Microbead Travel Neck Pillow

One of the most well-known neck pillows out there, Cloudz is the one you’re most likely to find in an airport. It’s inexpensive and will do the trick for most flights and other travel, but isn’t as comfortable or as well designed as some of the other picks in our roundup.

The spandex fabric on one side allows the pillow to conform to your shoulders and keeps you cool, while the cozy plush on the other side helps you drift off to sleep. The snap in front keeps the pillow properly oriented while traveling. It’s not machine washable, and over time the small polystyrene beads will compress, ultimately reducing cushioning. As such, it’ll do in a pinch but won't have the durability as some of the other choices here.

Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow

Go Neck Pillow

The makers of the Ostrichpillow Go believe resting shouldn’t require any effort, which is why they pride themselves on designs that are minimalist and easy to use as well as sustainably made. The ergonomic and sleek Go neck pillow promotes 360-degree comfort with a memory foam core, yet it packs down into a stuff sack just over half of its original size. Even after being stored away for a week, it easily expanded back to its circular shape.

While other options may compress into slightly smaller packs, I like this pillow's dense memory foam padding and the Velcro fastener, which allows for a custom fit. Since its cushion height is higher on one side than the other, the taller side may interfere with headphones. For comfort, the cover is luxuriously soft and holds up after machine washing.

Trtl Pillow Plus

Pillow Plus

Trtl might have the most unconventional looking travel pillow—loop, wrap and nap, as the company says—but plenty of people—especially side sleepers—swear by it. Inside the fleece fabric that gets wrapped around your neck is a cushioned plastic brace that rests on one shoulder and props your head up. Some may find the fleece gets a little too warm, but if you’re always cold on the plane, this could work for you. The fleece wrap also detaches easily from the plastic brace for washing.

While the Trtl Plus is expensive (the costliest of the ones recommended here), it does offer a custom fit courtesy of two plastic knobs that adjust both sides of the plastic panel. It comes with a travel bag which is handy if you don’t want to lug it around on the outside of your bag when traveling.

If you’re still intrigued, but put off by the price, the original Trtl costs about $40 less and is a bit more subtle in styling than the Plus. It looks more like a fleece scarf than a neck brace. There’s no case but it folds almost flat with a Velcro latch, to about the size of a large book, so you can fit it in your bag.

Bcozzy Chin Supporting Travel Neck Pillow

Chin Supporting Travel Neck Pillow

If your head tends to fall forward when you try to sleep upright, the Bcozzy keeps your head up by curling around your whole neck with the ends overlapping under the chin. There are also a few more ways you can wear it, such as folded in half to elevate just one side of your head.

The Bcozzy, available in children's and extra-large sizing, doesn’t come with a removable cover, but the whole pillow is machine washable. A travel case is included.

Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow

Inflatable Neck Pillow

According to some studies, passengers shift positions on a plane every 15 minutes, so this travel pillow is ideal for anyone who changes it up frequently on a flight. It works for forward slumpers, side sleepers, and even couples who want to position it between themselves. It's also perfect for those who want to read or watch a program in privacy.

To make the most of this unique pillow, you'll need a tray table to rest it on. The Sunany pillow can be used at either 19.6- or 11.8-inches high depending on how it is oriented. One downside, considering its inflated size is so large, is that it can be cumbersome to reposition.

AirComfy Ease Inflatable Travel Pillow

Ease Inflatable Travel Pillow

This dog bone-shaped, inflatable travel pillow is as ideal for the skies as it is for the roads. Take it in the plane or the car since its adjustable strap easily fits around most headrests, and thanks to its basic shape and adjustability via inflation, you can customize how soft or firm it is depending on your needs.

The foam backed bladder helps reduce the balloon-like feel of some inflatable travel pillows. Use it behind the neck and shoulder or behind the lower back for lumbar support. Extra points for the plush cover that is machine washable.


With so many travel specific pillows and U-shaped design styles, why pick a traditional rectangle option as the most versatile? It’s simple—you can’t reinvent the wheel. With foam and an inflatable bladder, travelers can adjust its firmness, roll it up for neck support on a plane, press it against a wall or window, use it as a normal pillow, or take it along for car travel or camping.

This is the versatile pillow I bring on trips when I am doing multiple types of adventure and know I will need a pillow that can handle the travel itself and anything after. I appreciate the use of both the foam and the air bladder, which means I can adjust the cushioning and the support. With NEMO’s combination, it creates a pillow that doesn’t feel like you’re sleeping on a balloon like some inflatable pillows do. It also easily stuffs down into a sack—about the size of a big Chipotle burrito—that’s integrated into the removable, machine washable cover.

J-Pillow Travel Pillow

Travel Pillow

The J-Pillow diverges from the traditional U-shape, co-opting another letter for its design. The curve of the “J” cradles your chin while the rest of the pillow supports one side of your head.

While this design is best-suited for passengers at a window seat, I found the J-Pillow didn’t slip off my shoulder even when I wasn't leaning against a window. There is plenty of cushioning, so it's comfortable, but its biggest flaw is its slightly awkward and bulky shape.

Though it comes with a travel sack, it doesn’t compress nearly as much as other travel pillows. Because it didn’t fit into my backpack, I had to carry it separately—not exactly ideal for frequent fliers—though you could use its snap loop to attach to luggage or tie the bag’s drawstring to a gear loop.

best travel pillows

What is typically the best way to clean a travel pillow? Should I look for one that is machine-washable?

Always follow the manufacturers’ recommendations. Many inflatable and foam pillows aren’t designed for machine washing and can get damaged in the process. Some of my favorite travel pillows have removable covers that are machine washable.

If given the choice of an inflatable, microbead, or memory foam travel pillow, what do you prefer and why?

If I'm not worried about packing space and my travel plans include a flight, I like memory foam since it cradles the head softly. If you’re traveling and doing multiple things while away, an inflatable pillow might be best since it takes up less space while packed and can be customized for different types of resting.

How do you know if a travel pillow is the right fit?

Think about how you rest while traveling and look for a pillow that fits those needs. You’ll want one with enough support to cradle your head as you nod off, whether that’s off to the side, straight back, or slumping forward.

Headshot of Chris Meehan

Chris Meehan is an internationally published writer, author, and editor with more than two decades of professional experience. He has authored multiple adventure guidebooks with Falcon Guides and his work focusses primarily on the nexus between sustainability and outdoor adventure. He is an experienced gear reviewer, tester, and travel writer who has explored multiple continents. 

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