The Best Travel Pillows

Updated on September 23, 2020 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.
 

If you have ever tried to fall asleep on a plane, you can understand the need for a comfortable travel pillow. Ideal for circumstances when you are sleeping upright in a chair or a confined space, travel pillows are designed to be smaller and more lightweight than traditional pillows. These pillows cater to unique traveling environments and provide support for your head and neck.

The most recognizable travel pillow is the U-shaped pillow that wraps around your neck for support. This simple design has stayed consistent over the years. Newer designs have evolved to provide more support with ergonomic designs. There are now multiple options to choose from.

This guide will take a closer look at the best travel pillows. Our choices offer consistent support and are easy to travel with. These versatile, customizable options also have easy care instructions. We include a variety of options to suit your personal preferences. Read on for an in-depth review of the top choices for travel pillows.

Our Top Picks

ManufacturerModelFeaturesPrice
Travel PillowLightweight and flexible, machine washable, snap loop fastener connects it to luggage, J-shaped design supports head, neck, and chinSee Best Price
Inflatable Travel PillowErgonomic, supportive design, inflates with a button, washable coverSee Best Price
Evolution Memory Foam Travel Neck PillowMachine washable cover, drawstring for close fit and 360-degree support, high-quality memory foamSee Best Price
PillowWrap design looks like a scarf, machine washable, adjustable fitSee Best Price
Travel PillowCurved design, machine washable cover, sweat-resistant, compresses in travel bagSee Best Price
 

J-Pillow Travel Pillow

Why we like it:

  • The unique J-shape provides added support for your head, neck, and chin
  • The entire pillow is machine washable
  • Plush cover is soft and comfortable
  • Malleable and supportive 3D polyester fill
J-Pillow Travel Pillow

The J-Pillow Travel Pillow was invented by a flight attendant who understood the need for a supportive travel pillow. The three-way support system fills the space between your head and your shoulders. This supports your chin and prevents your head from tipping forward.

This popular pillow has nearly 7,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4-star rating. The J-Pillow was named the British Invention of the Year due to its innovative design. The plush pillow is filled with a 3D polyester fiber fill that is malleable and supportive.

The J-Pillow is ideal for sleeping upright on a plane, bus, or car. It provides comfortable support if you are leaning against a window, as the pillow supports the side of your face and neck. The shape of the J-Pillow is ideal for those who have tried a U-shaped pillow but are looking for more support.

The J-Pillow may be a little too bulky to pack in your bag, but it features a snap-loop that you can use to attach to your luggage for easy carrying. The entire pillow is machine washable, which helps keep the pillow hygienic while traveling.

 

Purefly Inflatable Travel Pillow

Why we like it:

  • Raised design supports the neck and promotes proper alignment
  • Soft fabric cover is machine washable
  • Inflates and deflates by pressing a button
  • Deflated pillow fits in small carrying case and is easy to pack
Purefly Inflatable Travel Pillow

The Purefly Inflatable Travel Pillow has an ergonomic design that keeps your head upright and your neck aligned. The pillow is inflatable by repeatedly pressing a button (rather than blowing air into the pillow to inflate it yourself). This allows you to customize how full and firm you want the pillow to be. The pillow is easy to deflate by pushing the double-sealed valve. The Purefly pillow comes with a small travel case that makes it easy to pack.

The Purefly pillow is lightweight and compact. Its soft micro-velvet cover is machine washable for easy care. The arched design provides more support than a traditional travel pillow. It also helps relieve neck pain caused by sleeping in confined spaces while you travel. It is specifically designed to provide head and neck support for those sleeping upright in a chair or seat. It may not provide support for your chin if you are prone to nodding your head forward when you sleep, but it does provide ample support for your neck.

 

Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow

Why we like it:

  • Drawstring for an adjustable fit and 360-degree support
  • Raised design for added support
  • High-grade memory foam offers conforming support
  • Compresses to ¼ its size in travel bag for easy carrying
Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow

The Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow is a high-grade memory foam pillow with conforming support. The back is flattened to keep the spine and neck aligned. The Cabeau pillow also features a drawstring for an adjustable fit. This provides 360-degree support for your head, neck, and chin, which prevents your head from bobbing or tilting to one side. The memory foam contours to the shape of your head for conforming support.

The raised design makes the Cabeau pillow slightly taller than the average travel pillow, which is an important consideration for those who have a shorter neck. The thick padding is ideal for sleeping upright in a seat or chair, but may feel too thick if you recline fully. The design incorporates a “media pouch” for small items like a cell phone. The pillow compresses to a quarter of its size in the included travel bag, so it is easier to pack. Lastly, the removable cover is machine washable.

 

Trtl Pillow

Why we like it:

  • Designed to look like a scarf
  • Wrap design is adjustable
  • Lightweight, flexible frame provides support
  • Soft cover is machine washable
Trtl Pillow

The Trtl Pillow is a non-traditional style backed by scientific research. Its ergonomic shape provides neck and head support, especially if you are prone to tilting your head. The soft polyester fleece cover wraps around your neck, much like a scarf, with a velcro closure to keep it in place. Inside is cushioning foam and flexible internal support from a plastic brace. The support brace prevents neck stiffness by holding your head and neck in a proper position, whether the brace is positioned in the side or front. The Trtl Pillow is designed to be supportive when sleeping upright.

This pillow weighs half a pound, so it’s lightweight and easy to carry or wear. The hypoallergenic fleece cover is removable and machine washable. Due to its scarf-like design and fleece cover, the Trtl pillow can feel warmer than other travel pillows.

 

MLVOC Travel Pillow

Why we like it:

  • Adjustable drawstring for a custom fit
  • Compresses in travel bag to half its size for easy packing
  • Sweat-resistant cover is machine washable
  • Curved design and high-quality memory foam for contoured support
MLVOC Travel Pillow

The MLVOC Travel Pillow is a high-quality memory foam pillow with an ergonomic design. The pillow has three main points of support to keep your neck aligned and head fully supported when sleeping upright. The machine washable cover is designed with magnetic therapy fabric, which is breathable and sweat-resistant. This allows the pillow to feel cooler, despite its memory foam interior.

The memory foam construction contours to the shape of your head and neck and relieves pressure points. The adjustable drawstring allows for a closer fit and full support. This provides chin support and prevents your head from tilting forward or to one side. For easy travel, the pillow compresses to half its size in the included travel bag. It also comes with a contoured sleep mask and earplugs.

 

Travel Pillow Buyer’s Guide

When selecting a travel pillow, it is important to consider the following factors. How you sleep, your comfort preferences, and your travel method will all help determine which travel pillow is best for you.

Travel pillows help provide support when sleeping in unsupportive and uncomfortable environments. Planes, cars, and trains are all restricted when it comes to having enough space to sleep comfortably. The majority of travel requires sleeping upright, and travel pillows are designed to support your head and neck in this position. There are multiple shapes and types of travel pillows available, which we will detail in the following section.

It is also important to consider how the pillow is constructed. Materials like memory foam are conforming and supportive. Soft covers add to the comfort level of a travel pillow. It is also necessary to consider how easily the pillow can be packed or attached to your luggage.

Travel Pillow Considerations

There are multiple factors that affect how comfortable and supportive a travel pillow is and everyone has specific needs. When determining which one may be best for you, the size, material, and weight of the pillow, as well as the type of travel that it will be used for, can all be deciding factors. It is also important to consider ease of use, cleaning instructions, and sleeping position before purchasing a new travel pillow.

  • Comfort: This refers to the overall feel of the pillow, which depends on its shape and material. Memory foam and soft, plush materials may be more comfortable than inflatable pillows but tend to be less adjustable. The cover of the pillow will also affect comfort, and some materials may sleep cooler or hotter. The most comfortable pillow for you will depend on your personal preferences.
  • Size: The size of the pillow affects support and comfort. Higher loft pillows are better for those with long necks or those who need more support. The size of the pillow is also important to consider when it comes to packing the travel pillow. Some pillows can be compressed or deflated for easier traveling. Thick, large, or firm pillows may need to be packed or carried as is.
  • Weight: Another important consideration when traveling is the weight of the pillow, especially with luggage restrictions. Larger pillows are harder to pack and heavier to carry. Lightweight pillows tend to be more portable and easier to wear while you travel.
  • Material: What the pillow is made of will determine how comfortable and supportive it is. Materials like memory foam contour to the shape of your neck and head. Pliable filling like microbeads are more adjustable and can be formed into different shapes. The materials used will also affect how breathable the pillow is.
  • Price: On average, travel pillows typically cost $20 to $40. This range in price makes your budget an important consideration. If you travel often, a higher-quality travel pillow may be a better investment in the long run.
  • Type of Travel: The type of travel can determine your sleeping position. Sleeping on a plane, bus, or train typically means you are either fully upright or slightly reclined. There is more flexibility when traveling in a car or RV as you can recline more comfortably.
  • Ease of Use and Cleaning: Most travel pillows feature a simple design and are easy to use. Many pillows also feature a removable cover that is machine washable. This is ideal, since traveling means exposure to germs and bacteria. It is important to read care instructions to ensure your pillow is cleaned properly.
  • Sleeping Position: Most of the time, traveling means you are sleeping upright or just partially reclined. If you tend to nod your head forward as you sleep or lean to one side, it is important to consider this when selecting a travel pillow so that your head and neck are properly supported. Your sleeping position will determine the best shape for your travel pillow for comfort and support.

Types of Travel Pillows

Though the most recognizable travel pillow is probably the U-shaped travel pillow, the travel pillow industry has expanded with new, innovative designs. Some styles are simple and intuitive, while others are more complex. With more options available, it is important to understand the multiple types of travel pillows. Read on for a brief description of the most common types to help you determine which shape will be best for you.

  • Inflatable: An inflatable travel pillow features a lining that is filled with air. It can either be filled by a built-in pump or inflated by mouth. This allows the pillow to be adjustable to your preferred loft. The pillow can also be deflated so that it takes up less room. Some have found that an air-filled pillow is not as comfortable as other materials. Lastly, having to blow the pillow up by mouth can be time-consuming and unhygienic.
  • U-Shaped: The traditional travel pillow is a U-shaped pillow that fits around your neck for support. This simple design is easy to use. It can be inflatable, though memory foam and polyfill options are common too. The drawback to this pillow shape is that it may not provide full neck and head support, and it does not prevent your chin from tipping forward due to the open U-shaped design.
  • J-Shaped: The J-shaped travel pillow is similar to the U-shaped pillow, but with an additional extension to support the chin. This versatile shape can be positioned in more ways for customizable support. It also is better at preventing the chin from tilting forward. The larger shape, however, may not be as easy to pack.
  • Wrap: A wrap pillow typically is designed to look like a scarf with additional support. It wraps around your neck and is ideal for those who tilt or lean their head in any direction. These designs tend to be lightweight and portable. Depending on the material, the wrap pillow may feel warmer than other designs.
  • Ring: The ring-shaped travel pillow features a versatile circular design. This type of pillow is typically worn around the neck for support, or over the eyes and ears. Due to its circular design, ring pillows are not typically adjustable.
  • Head Strap: A head strap travel pillow straps to the headrest of your seat and wraps around your head to keep your head upright. This type of travel pillow is adjustable and compact, though it does not provide the cushioning side and neck support of other travel pillows.
  • Head Cradle: A head cradle travel pillow is a larger travel pillow that supports your head and upper body. These designs typically are versatile. Some can sit on the tabletop or tray table in front of you, or feature a design where you can loop your arm through the pillow for side support. The drawback to this design is that the pillow tends to be larger.
 

Additional Sleep Resources for Traveling Sleepers