Do you dread traveling just because the journey is always uncomfortable and never seems to end? Your answer may lie in getting the right travel pillow. Even though it’s often associated with air travel, a travel pillow is suitable for anyone traveling, whether by road, rail, sea, or train.
In simple terms, I could define a travel pillow as a pillow that’s compact and small enough for you to travel with. Apart from being used for traveling, these pillows can also be used when doing other activities including watching television, reading or sleeping on the couch.
Criteria for Selecting the Best Travel Pillow
Travel pillows come in different shapes, designs, sizes, and filling material. It’s important to understand which one will be best for you depending on a number of things such as what you plan to use it for, the material that’s safe for you, how you prefer to sleep when you’re traveling and how durable the pillow is.
One of the most important reasons why you would want to select an appropriate filling material is that some materials may not be suitable for you if you have certain allergies. The stuffing material is also a vital consideration because it determines the level of support and comfort each pillow can offer.
Different filling materials can determine how expensive or affordable a particular pillow is. It also determines how a particular pillow can be to washed. There are a number of filling materials used in travel pillows, you can choose from: memory foam, regular form, polyester fiber, microbead and air.
Just like the ordinary pillow you use at home, your travel pillow should provide adequate support to ensure you don’t feel any pain or numbness when you wake up. In order for a pillow to do this well it needs to be made from a stuffing material that doesn’t collapse under the pressure of your head. However, the material should also not be too stiff that you end up sitting in a position that’s uncomfortable. Memory foam is generally considered to be a good material for support.
Even though the most popular shape people think of when considering travel pillows is the U shape, you can also get them in the J shape and also in the ordinary rectangular shape.
You need to consider the shape you buy based mainly on what you want to use the pillow for. For instance, if all you want to use the pillow for is supporting your neck when sitting upright, you may want to go with the U shaped pillow. However, this will not be the best pillow if you also want to use the pillow when sleeping flat. For that you may want to go with a rectangular shaped one.
Even though your travel pillow is something you’ll be using occasionally, it’s still important to ensure that you buy a durable one that will last longer. The stitching has to be strong so that you don’t end up with thousand of microbeads or other filling material on your lap while flying because the pillow you got is not stitched properly.
Even though it could be difficult to determine how durable a travel pillow is when you’ve just received it, we always advise you to check if there are any guarantees and offers to give you back your money if the pillow deteriorates too fast. You’ll find some manufacturers give one of two year guarantees. This could be an indication the manufacturer has confidence in the products they are selling.
Best Types of Travel Pillows
Memory foam is preferred in making travel pillows because it tends to be firmer than other types of materials. This works well if you want to keep your head well supported while traveling because memory foam does not collapse easily under pressure.
- Easily maintains shape to provide firm support
- Molds to the shape of your head and neck
- Warn in cold weather
- Slow spring back
- Sleeps hot in summer
- Can have chemical smell
Best Memory Foam Travel Pillow
The special memory foam used to make the Travelrest – Therapeutic Memory Foam Travel & Neck Pillow is thermosensitive. This means that it’s made in such a manner that it neither gets too hot nor too cold; allowing it to provide comfort no matter the weather conditions on the day when you’re traveling.
Apart from being suitable for use when you’re traveling, this pillow will also be great if you’re working on your computer, out on a camping trip or just watching television in your lounge. It’s a suitable pillow for you whether all you want is luxury or you want to alleviate neck pain.
- Adjustable drawstrings ensure the pillow doesn’t move
- Microfiber cover can be removed and washed
- Telescoping luggage handle makes pillow easy to transport
- Too firm for someone who prefers a softer pillow
- Chunky to carry around
Shredded Memory Foam
Shredded memory foam is essentially memory form that’s been shredded into small pieces which are then used to stuff a pillow. Unlike ordinary memory foam which is cut into one large piece, shredded memory foam provides more room for air to move around. This is the reason why pillows made from this material are generally cooler.
- Sleeps cool in summer
- Can be made into different degrees of firmness
- Pillow can lose shape easily
- Is not as supportive as memory foam
Best Shredded Memory Travel Pillow
What makes the Compact Technologies Travel Pillow a suitable solution for you when you’re traveling is the fact that it is designed to be compact. The pillow comes with a patented design which allows you to roll the pillow into a small package so that it doesn’t feel chunky.
The shredded memory foam used to stuff this pillow ensures that it follows the contours of your neck to provide a firm but comfortable feel. Its rectangular shape also allows you to use it for other purposes even when you are not traveling.
- Comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Memory foam allows you to mold the pillow around your neck and head
- Lightweight makes it ideal for traveling
- Pillow cover is not removable
- Drawstring is too short
- Chemical smell when still new
Polyester fiber would be the material for you if you like the feel of down in your travel pillow but are looking for an alternative. This filling material is generally known for being affordable, easy to care for, and hypoallergenic.
- Allows good circulation of air and sleeps cool
- Can easily be hand washed
- Low moisture absorption
- Costs less
- Not noisy
- Flattens quickly
- Filling can get clumpy and lose shape
Best Polyester Travel Pillow
The Daisy Travel Pillow, made from 100%, polyester is designed to deliver the finest support for both the head and neck. The designers of this travel pillow promise a cushion design which provides support for the back of the neck, face, head, and chin. It is also designed to work well even if you have no side surface to rest your head on; making it suitable for use when you’re sitting in the center seat or aisle.
If you happen not to like this pillow after buying it, you can return it without fearing that you’ll be asked to provide a reason.
- Supports the chin and head well
- Suitable when sitting in different seats
- Soft material but still firm
- No carry bag
- Too big for thinner necks
- Bulky to travel with
Microbead is preferred in making travel pillows because of its spongy characteristics which make it provide both comfort and support. When compared to both memory foam and regular form, this kind of filling material doesn’t get as hot. This makes it a suitable filling material for pillows used in summer.
- Doesn’t compact easily
- Lightweight and easy to travel with
- Presents an environmental hazards when disposed of
- Choking hazard to children and animals if pillow tears
Best Microfiber Travel Pillow
According to its manufacturers, the Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow has been on the market for over 15 years; selling millions of original pillows. The microbeads are designed to be very small so that they are suitable for you if you’re looking for a travel pillow that mixes comfort with support.
This pillow is flexible and breathable. It will not lose its firmness easily because microbeads are known for maintaining their shape for extended periods. The pillow comes with a snap closure so it secures around your neck.
- Designed to easily attach to your luggage
- Soft but still firm
- Allows good circulation of air
- Snap button keeps pillow secure
- Pillow cover cannot be removed for washing
- Takes up a lot of space
Air is a convenient material for filling travel pillows because when you’re no longer using the pillow, you simply deflate it and put it away. When compared to other stuffing materials, this is the most lightweight and does require a lot of space.
- Easy to carry around when traveling
- Possibility of punctures
Best Inflatable Travel Pillow
Knowing that they were manufacturing a travel pillow, the people who manufactured the NeckWell have also included earbuds and a sleep mask. This pillow will be suitable for you if you need a pillow that’s easy to carry around as you can just remove the air when you no longer need it.
The travel pillow is also designed to inflate without the need to blow. To inflate you just press the pump button and to deflate you just twist a liver. The camel hump design ensures the pillow follows the contours of your neck and head. There is also an anti-slip adjustment string so that the pillow remains in place while you sleep.
- No need to blow
- Saves space
- Comes with a carry case
- User manual instructions are not clear
- Needs extra care not to puncture
- Turn valve is difficult to move
The most common shape in which you will find travel pillows is the U shape. The main purpose of the U shaped pillow is to ensure the head does not roll to the sides or front when you’re sleeping. To ensure that the head does not roll forward, a good U shaped travel pillow will support the lower chin.
- Cuddles the entire neck
- Doesn’t fall away easily
- Can provide warmth when cold
- Sleeps hot in summer
- Restricts neck movement which could cause discomfort
Best U Shaped Travel Pillow
What makes the Jerrybox Travel Neck Pillow a good solution for traveling is that it doesn’t waste space. This makes it suitable for someone who wants to travel light as all you need to do is press a button and in ten seconds the pillow is ready for use. When you arrive where you are going, just deflate the pillow and store.
The raised mounds on the pillow are specifically designed to ensure that the neck and head are properly supported. This lightweight pillow will weigh 320 g and can easily fit in your palm when deflated.
- Easy to carry when traveling
- No need to blow
- Does not secure tight enough on a small neck
J Shaped pillow
As its name suggests, the J shaped pillow is shaped in the form of the letter J. The J shaped pillow forms a big arch that goes over your shoulder while another part curls under your chin. The J shape is designed by manufacturers to offer better chin support that can be provided by the U shaped pillow.
- Provides better support to the chin
- Gives the neck more room to move
- Allows for a variety of comfortable positions
- Doesn’t hold as tightly as the U shaped pillow
Best J Shaped Travel Pillow
The designers of the Elenker Travel Neck Pillow didn’t just want to make a pillow for someone who wants to use it once in a while when traveling. They designed it in such a way that it can comfortably be used whether you’re studying or just watching television.
The Elenker pillow comes with a travel bag to make carrying it easy. Added to this, the pillow can be squeezed down easily so that it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your luggage. The soft material cover is not only designed to be comfortable, it also eliminates germs.
- Designed to fit the contours of the head, neck, shoulders, and chin
- Comes with a convenient carry bag
- Can be squeezed to take as little space as possible
- Stitching is poor
- Too soft if you want a fuller pillow
Rectangular Shaped Travel Pillow
Rectangular shaped pillows can either be used compressed or in full size. Some of the pillows are designed in such a manner that they can reach up to four times their size when you expand them. These are suitable for someone who wants to use the pillows whether they are traveling or at home.
- Multiple uses,
- Supports both neck and back
- Gives neck more room to move
- Does not fit tight enough on smaller necks
Best Rectangular Shaped Travel Pillow
The primary feature that makes the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow suitable for you when traveling is that you can compress it into a size of 16 x 23 incl. It will expand to full size the moment you take it out of its case.
The pillow is machine washable. However, it’s very important that you follow the washing and drying instructions if you want the pillow to last longer.
This pillow’s shape makes it suitable for use during the journey itself and also when you arrive where you are going.
- Manufactured from soft quite material
- Come with carrying case
- Well stuffed and still rolls into a small pack for storage
- The stitching is not strong enough
- Takes too long to dry after washing
- No means to attach to luggage
If you still haven’t identified one that works best for you, we’ve added a few more to extend your choice.
The Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow is designed to be different from the traditional travel pillows in that it twists into almost any shape which makes you comfortable when sleeping while traveling. It’s also designed not just for traveling but also for use when reading, watching television or supporting a painful neck.
This pillow is easy to clean because its cover material is made from breathable cotton that can be easily washed on a machine. The snap closure ensures the pillow does not move while you are sleeping. It’s also used to attach the pillow to your backpack.
- Twists into different shapes according to your needs
- Maintains the shape into which you mold it
- Snap closure ensures the pillow stays in place
- Too soft if you are looking for a firmer pillow
- Flipping one side up compromises neck support
The SkySiesta SNUG Travel Pillow’s L-shaped design ensures that both the head and neck are supported at the same time. The buckle, in front, is not just used to keep the two sides in place, it can also be used to adjust the pillow so that it fits different neck and face sizes.
This travel pillow would be great for someone traveling in cold weather because it covers the neck, ears, and head. You may want to try this pillow if you have already tried the other travel pillows and been disappointed, because it takes a different shape and form when compared to others.
- Warm in cold weather
- Comes with carrying case
- Muffles sound as it covers your ears
- Uncomfortable if you don’t like being confined
- Too warm in hot weather
- Takes a lot of luggage space
The BTShine Inflatable Travel Pillow is designed not just to ensure your head remains in a comfortable position but also that the whole body is aligned. While this travel pillow may look bulky, it can actually be deflated into a size of 14.5 x 13.7 x 20 inch. The pillow is designed for you if you usually suffer from a stiff neck and sore shoulders after every trip you take.
The manufacturers of this pillow have given it a two-year guarantee. This could be understood as a sign that they are confident that they have manufactured a quality product.
- Lightweight and portable
- Easy to store
- No chemical smell
- You have to blow to inflate it which can be embarrassing in public
With this range of products in the travel pillow market, there is no reason why you should be banging and resting your head on people’s shoulders when traveling. The great thing about the products we’ve featured here is that they take different forms and shapes, ensuring that there is one suitable for everyone.
After reviewing all the travel pillows I’ve included in this review, I select the NeckWell Inflatable Travel Pillow as the best product for me. The first reason why I would go with this pillow is that I really love traveling light. With this one, when I arrive wherever I am going, I just deflate it and nicely store it with the rest of my language. Pillows made from other materials take a lot of space that would have otherwise been used by my luggage. Even those that attach to the backpack still create a logistical nightmare for me.
I also prefer the NeckWell pillow because I never have to suffer the embarrassment of blowing it in front of fellow passengers. In brief, this is the most convenient pillow for me.