8 Best Travel Pillows of 2024

8 Best Travel Pillows of 2024

Traveling can be stressful. From booking your hotel to planning your itinerary and getting through the airport, you want to finally relax when you’re on the plane. You’ve made it through TSA and are finally heading off on your travels. 

Airplane seats are becoming more scaled back and basic. If you’ve flown long-haul in recent years, you’ll know these seats aren’t always comfortable. Whether you’re dealing with transport delays or trying to nap during a red eye, your neck needs the right support. 

A plane pillow can help you relax during your flight to ensure you arrive well-rested and ready to start exploring. We’re sharing the reasons why you should use a neck pillow and the best ones to help you stay comfortable throughout your journey. 

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Contents

Why airplane pillows are a travel essential

A neck pillow might scream “tourist”, but it’s the one essential your body will thank you for packing. Whether you’re heading to Las Vegas or jetting off to a music festival, your packing list should include things you need to make your journey more comfortable. A pillow is at the top of the list. If you’re taking a red-eye flight or want to arrive at your destination feeling rested, you need to consider how you’ll relax.

Airplanes aren’t designed with sleeping in mind. You never know what sort of environment you’re going to get. You might have a noisy neighbor, unexpected turbulence, and the dreaded flight delays. If you end up in the middle seat, it can be even harder to get into a comfortable position to relax. 

Most portable pillows are easy to roll up into a compact size or attach to your luggage for easy access, even with a memory foam interior. These pillows aren’t just for when you’re sleeping. They’re tried and tested to help you stay comfortable and relaxed. 

Photo: the stock company/ Shutterstock.com

While you’ll see these for sale at the airport, you can expect to find a smaller selection and pay a premium for a last-minute purchase.

Most of the products on our list below are available through Amazon and come with innovative features you won’t find at your airport kiosk. 

Why you should use an airplane neck pillow

Not everyone can afford the luxury of a business class ticket with all the added comforts, from pillows to seats that convert into a bed. A little pre-planning can make your flight experience more enjoyable, whether you’re traveling for work or jetting off to a bucket list destination. Flying can be stressful, but the right tools can make it a more enjoyable experience.

An airplane pillow is crucial if you suffer from neck or back pain, making it easier to relax and sleep. It aligns your body with your seat, enhancing your posture and reducing muscle strain. It’s not uncommon to find yourself sleeping in unnatural positions on a plane, usually straining your neck to one side or arching your back awkwardly. 

Photo: freepik /freepik.com

Sleeping in an awkward way or having bad posture can cause sciatic nerve pain. A portable pillow helps you avoid this by keeping your body in the right position. Most have a strap or buckle, helping you sit in the correct position against your seat to minimize discomfort. Using a compact pillow can also reduce your likelihood of snoring by helping air move freely through your nose.

What to consider when buying a plane pillow

While features like memory foam matter, you need to think about the specific things you need from a pillow. Just like your pillow at home, not all these options give you the same results. These pillows aren’t all designed or tested with the same customers in mind. 

You can expect to pay between $25 to $60, but the benefits are invaluable.

We’re breaking down what you should consider before hitting “Add to cart” on any of the products on our list below.

1. Children’s sizes

If you’re flying with small children, you’ll want to shop for a kid’s size to help them stick to their usual routine. If you’re traveling through different time zones, using a travel pillow to help your kids nap can make it easier to adjust to the time difference.

Photo: New Africa/ Shutterstock.com 

Most adult pillows are too large for children unless they feature an adjustable strap to make them smaller. The Trtl pillow is one of the few designs that work for every size of chin, head, and neck with its scarf-inspired shape.

2. Type of travel

You’ll want to consider the sort of traveling you do. If you listen to music with large headphones, you’ll want a style that works with them, like the Trtl. Similarly, if you prefer to pack light, you’ll want a design that is easy to fold up and pack away. Space is at a premium when traveling, so choose one that won’t take up too much space. Most pillows will roll down a compact size to fit in your personal item or can be clipped onto your luggage. 

3. Sleeping position

Choose a style that’s shaped to compliment your sleeping position. One of the most overlooked features is the exterior fabric. You want to shop for one that’s like the pillow you use at home to make it easier for your body to relax. If you sleep on your stomach, a forward-facing pillow might be the right option for you. If you sleep on your side, look for pillows that will support your jaw and help align your back to the seat.

4. Short-haul vs. long-haul

Another factor to consider is the distance you usually travel. While inflatable pillows are the most affordable, these are best for short-haul flights. If you commonly travel long-haul or take multiple international flights a year, it’s worth investing in a memory foam pillow. While most can be used on a plane, not all are specifically designed to do so. You’ll find some pillows shaped to suit sleeping in the middle seat of an aircraft and others better suited for car or train travel. 

Photo: Pixel-Shot/ Shutterstock.com

5. Pillow filling

Just like your pillows at home, the filling matters. Inflatable pillows are one of the best options for short-haul journeys as they deflate to a compact size. However, a memory foam pillow will give you more support, ideal for long-haul travel. Looking for an in-between option? Microbead pillows are easy to pack down into a pouch and more comfortable than an inflatable pillow. 

6. Chin strap and 360-support

The purpose of a travel pillow is to align your neck and back with the seat to reduce strain and prevent discomfort. If you struggle with neck pain day-to-day, you’ll want to shop around for a pillow with extra features, including a chin strap. It’s easy to forget about your chin and jaw when buying a pillow. A strap helps hold them in place and aligns your back while you sleep to stop your neck from bobbing around. Some larger travel pillows offer 360-degree support as they can be worn in multiple ways to accommodate any sleeping style or seat. These pillows guarantee you a better sleeping experience, whether you’re sitting in the window, middle, or aisle seat.

7. Overhead headphones

Most of us wear headphones when traveling. Watching movies, catching up on Netflix, and listening to music help keep you entertained. AirPods and smaller earphones will work with almost any pillow, but overhead headphones can be a little more challenging. Some pillow designs, including those for side sleepers, can make it difficult to wear your headphones and use the pillow.

Photo: Matej Kastelic/ Shutterstock.com

The best neck pillow for long-haul flights

Travel pillows are not a one-size-fits-all accessory. Consider the type of travel you do, your budget, and any specific features you might need. Not all pillows come with a chin strap or a brace. If you struggle with neck pain and travel frequently, you’ll want to look for an option with memory foam padding and a washable cover. 

Investing in one of these pillows can make your economy seat feel more like a business-class experience. You’ll find plenty of styles to choose from, with most available on Amazon, including the options from Cabeau and Trtl, if you’ve left your packing to the last minute. 

We’re rounding up 8 of the best travel pillows with our advice on who they’re suited for, the features that make them a best-seller, and whether they’re worth the investment.

1. Samsonite luggage 2-in-1 travel pillow

Price: $15-$25

Where to purchase: Samsonite | Amazon

This budget-friendly option is ideal for those who prefer to travel light. It folds up into a compact pouch with a travel clip to attach it to the outside of your luggage. We recommend this travel pillow for its ergonomic design, as it’s easy to switch from a U-shaped to a square-shaped pillow. 

If you’re a frequent traveler, this pillow will help you relax in the airport lounge or nap between meal services. The microbeads inside the fabric make it ideal for camping or as an emergency pillow at your hotel. 

2. Cabeau air TNE inflatable pillow

Price: $25

Where to purchase: Cabeau | Amazon

Sleep easy on your next flight with this innovative pillow, designed to offer 360-degree support to stabilize your head with a snug but comfortable fit. This pillow is minimalistic and folds down into a compact size to save you crucial packing space.

One of the major selling points of this travel pillow is that it aligns your neck with the seat and features a neck strap to keep your chin straight. Its single-breath design and flexible stretch means you’re guaranteed the perfect fit. 

Photo: cabeau.com

Wave goodbye to headaches and neck strain by deflating or inflating this pillow to get the firmness just right for your preference. This pillow has an open-neck design to ensure you have a constant airflow for temperature regulation to prevent overheating. No one wants to feel sweat build up on their neck. The removable cover is washable, making it easy to clean between trips, with an ultra-soft fabric that won’t irritate your skin.

3. Travelrest all-in-one ultimate travel neck pillow

Price: $30-$40

Where to purchase: Travelrest | Amazon

No one enjoys sitting in the middle seat – but memory foam might make it a little easier. It’s one of the most innovative designs on this list and is designed to be worn like a messenger bag. This pillow is ideal for side sleepers and gives you something to rest your head against while napping. 

This option is a little more expensive, making it best for frequent travelers who find traditional travel pillows uncomfortable or claustrophobic. It features a memory foam insert and velour cover for a first-class experience. You can inflate and deflate this pillow in just seconds, rolling it down to a compact size for easy packing. It’s also ideal for traveling in a car or train, making it one of the most versatile neck pillows on our list.

4. Snugl neck travel pillow

Price: $40-$45

Where to purchase: Snugl | Amazon

If you lean your head against the window, you’ll want to check out this option. It is available in a small and regular size, as well as an array of colors. It’s designed to be worn four different ways, including over the shoulder, under your chin, and reversed to support your back. The buckle straps are adjustable, and it’s easy to wear overhead headphones when using this pillow.

Attach it to the outside of your carry-on or personal item using the clip for easy access. The outer cover is made with soft and breathable cotton and features a hypoallergenic inner cover with memory foam padding. 

Photo: snugl.com

5. Sunany inflatable neck pillow

Price: $30

Where to purchase: Amazon

This option borrows its concept from massage tables. While it’s guaranteed to earn you a few curious looks from your fellow travelers, it’s a style we’re seeing all over social media as an Amazon top-seller. If you usually rest on your tray table when flying, this inflatable neck pillow is the perfect alternative. 

It’s designed for front sleepers between 1.55 and 1.80 meters in height. If you’re taller than this, the manufacturer recommends placing a pillow under the base. This pillow is designed to be hugged to your chest with a hollow breathing zone to place your face in with an open space to loop your arms through. 

Photo: amazon.com

The central part is designed to fit snugly against your ribs. The ergonomic concept helps to support your spine to reduce stress on your back. Like other options on this list, this pillow is designed to be inflated by blowing into the valve, making it easy to deflate and pack after use.

While a slightly more expensive option, it also comes with an eye mask and earplugs. 

6. Cosy collection ‘The Nab’ pillow

Price: $35 – $55

Where to purchase: Cosy Collection | Amazon

If you’re traveling with budget airlines, you’ll know cabin baggage allowances are only getting smaller. One of the most popular travel hacks is to maximize your free luggage allowance by packing clothes into your travel pillow. Not all designs will allow this, but Cosy Collection has created the ultimate all-in-one for the savvy budget traveler. 

The neck and bag pillow – known as “The Nab” is a zippered shoulder bag with a carry strap. It’s a better option for short-haul flights as an emergency backup if you need extra space while packing. The ultra-soft fabric creates a plush pillow to rest against, but it lacks an ergonomic design..

The manufacturer claims you can fit three days’ worth of clothing in the Nab. 

7. Trtl travel neck pillow

Price: $60

Where to purchase: Trtl | Amazon

Traveling with friends or family? Trtl offers a discount on bulk purchases of their best-selling style, saving you up to 30%. Although the most expensive pillow on our list, it has over 10,000 5-star reviews and has been featured in multiple publications, including Lonely Planet and Business Insider.

What makes this pillow unique is that it mimics the appearance of a scarf, wrapping around your neck for the perfect fit. It features an internal support system that aligns your head and neck to aid with sleep and prevent your head from bobbing.

You use this pillow by positioning it against your neck and then wrapping the fabric around you like a scarf. Its compact size makes it one of the most versatile pillows on this list, ideal for use in a car, plane, train, or even at the office. It is super lightweight and made with hypoallergenic fabric. 

Trtl claims it will work for anyone as it’s designed to suit your specific proportions. You can use the same pillows for kids and buy one for all the family using the brand’s multi-pack deal. Trtl offers a 100-day money-back guarantee and a free carry bag, worth $20 when you order through their website. 

8. J-Pillow travel pillow

Price: $50-60

Where to purchase: J-Pillow |Amazon

You want to consider the way you typically sleep on planes. If you find that you lean forward, you need an option with chin support to stop your head slipping forward as you sleep. Leaning forward can put unnecessary pressure on your spine and have you coming off your flight with a stiff neck. The 3-way support helps your neck, chin, and head stay in place so you can sleep anywhere.

Although a slightly larger size, it comes with a case that you can attach to your backpack or rolling suitcase. Simply tuck it under your chin and lean back. 

It’s an ideal option if you feel claustrophobic and want a more flexible design. The patented design means it curls and cups your chin to hold it in place, preventing your head from falling forward.

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