The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Pillow

Traveling can be exhausting, but having the right travel pillow can make all the difference in allowing you to nap and rest while on the go. With so many types, sizes and materials available, it can be tricky to determine which option best suits your needs.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the perfect travel pillow. We’ll review different designs, key features, and top-rated travel pillow picks for airplanes, cars, trains, buses and camping. Let’s find your ideal travel pillow companion!

Benefits of Using a Travel Pillow

A good travel pillow provides these advantages when you’re on the move:

  • Allows you to sleep in an upright seated position
  • Supports your head, neck and shoulders
  • Prevents your head from rolling from side to side
  • Alleviates neck stiffness, headaches and pain
  • Allows you to achieve deeper, more restful sleep
  • Compact and portable for easy transport
  • Provides padding and lumbar support in hard seats
  • Enhances comfort when traveling for long periods
  • Customizable for individual comfort preferences

A quality travel pillow can transform an uncomfortable trip into a peaceful, refreshing rest.

What to Look for in a Travel Pillow

When shopping for a travel pillow, here are the key features to consider:

Design and Shape

Travel pillow styles include wrap around U-shape, hooded, inflatable, memory foam, buckwheat, microbead and more. Choose based on your needs.

Support Type

Do you need chin and neck support or more of a general cushion? Full support models hold your in proper alignment.


Some travel pillows allow you to customize fill, firmness, and height. This added adaptability prevents overextension of neck.


Look for pillows that are compact, lightweight and easy to pack. Inflatable, compressible and wearable options maximize portability.


Assess fill material, removable covers, and whether machine washable. Memory foam, microbeads, and polyfill are common options.


Standard travel pillows have diameter around 11 to 14 inches. Consider your torso height.

Special Features

Some include ventilation, aromatherapy options, eye masks, and ear plugs for enhanced comfort.

Prioritize support, portability and convenience for your needs.

Top 10 Travel Pillow Picks

After extensive research on design, materials, effectiveness and reviews, here are 10 top-rated travel pillow picks:

1. Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow

  • Adaptable 3-level support system
  • Memory foam core with cooling vent
  • Luxurious washable cover
  • Compresses into carry bag
  • 360 ̊ rotation flexibility

With more than 8,000 reviews, this is a leading memory foam travel pillow. The adjustable front clasp allows you to customize neck height and provides excellent chin support. The ventilation slot also prevents heat buildup. A quality pillow engineered for comfort.

Available on Amazon: $39.99

2. MLVOC Neck Pillow

  • Shredded memory foam fill
  • Breathable bamboo cover
  • Easily adjustable fill levels
  • Compresses into included pouch
  • Machine washable

This adjustable travel pillow allows you to modify the fill to your perfect loft and firmness. The breathable cover prevents heat retention. It compresses nicely to stuff into luggage. Reviewers rave about the comfort and support. Great value under $20.

Available on Amazon: $16.99

3. Trtl Travel Pillow

  • Wraparound ergonomic design
  • Internal structural support
  • Machine washable fleece
  • Adjustable to fit neck size
  • Extremely compact when packed

This unique wrap-around travel pillow provides chin support like no other. The internal reinforced structure blocks your head from rolling while preventing over-arching. Easily adjustable and super lightweight. Users love the comfort and portability.

Available on Amazon: $29.99

4. BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

  • Wrap around ergonomic design
  • Breathable, stretch performance fabric
  • Stays in place while you sleep
  • Machine washable
  • Patented snap strap adjustment

The patented design of the BCOZZY chin supporting travel pillow keeps your head upright while you sleep. The stretchy performance fabric allows you to turn your head freely. Reviewers love how it prevents their head from falling forward or sideways. Very compact and portable.

Available on Amazon: $29.97

5. J-Pillow Travel Pillow

  • Forward chin support shelf
  • Fleece outer shell
  • Polyfill cushioning
  • Easily adjustable snap strap
  • Rolls up tightly

The unique J-Pillow travel pillow has a protruding bottom layer providing chin support. The fleece cover provides softness, while the polyfill fill offers cushioning comfort. Many reviewers say this pillow truly makes it possible to fall asleep upright. Machine washable.

Available on Amazon: $29.99

6. Travelrest Ultimate Inflatable Travel Pillow

  • Inflatable support with microfiber cover
  • Can be blown up to desired firmness
  • Flat valve prevents air leakage
  • Foldable and compressible
  • Machine washable cover

This inflatable pillow is loved for its lightweight portability and adjustability. Blow it up to your ideal firmness and position wherever you need support. Deflates into a tiny pouch. The microfiber cover prevents noise. A great budget option under $20.

Available on Amazon: $12.95

7. Purefly Soft Velvet Inflatable Travel Pillow

  • Inflatable inner bladder
  • Ultra-plush removable velvet cover
  • Adjustable inflation levels
  • Folds into included drawstring pouch
  • Machine washable cover

The ultra-soft velvet cover makes this inflatable pillow extra luxe. It inflates fully in just 2-3 breaths and holds air reliably. Easy to compress and transport. Very affordable yet feels more expensive. A pampering choice for long trips.

Available on Amazon: $15.99

8. Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow

  • Shredded memory foam fill
  • Twist and adjustable design
  • Removable bamboo cover
  • Compact for travel at 1.8 lbs
  • Carrying case included

With a 4.6/5 star average rating, this adjustable memory foam travel pillow gets rave reviews for comfort. The segments rotate for customized configurations and chin support. The breathable bamboo cover allows temperature regulation. A great value under $25.

Available on Amazon: $22.99

9. Huzi Infinity Pillow

  • Proprietary cushy polyethylene fill
  • Can be shaped, twisted, scrunched
  • Highly moldable and portable
  • Weighs only 8.8 oz
  • Covers available in variety of colors

The unique Huzi Infinity Pillow can be bent, twisted and shaped any way you want for comfort. The soft polyethylene fill holds its form. Super lightweight and easy to squish into luggage. Users love the adjustability and instant pillow anywhere convenience.

Available on Amazon: $39.99

10. Crafty World Travel Pillow

  • 100% memory foam fill
  • Removable soft velour cover
  • Shredded foam easily adjusts density
  • Includes free sleep mask
  • Rolls up for compact transport

With over 3,000 reviews, Crafty World’s shredded memory foam pillow gets rave reviews for comfort at an affordable price. The pieces mold to your shape for tailored support. Plus, it includes a free sleep mask for blocking light. Value and quality combined.

Available on Amazon: $22.97

Any of these top-rated travel pillows can help you achieve better sleep and arrival day energy, whether commuting daily or adventuring abroad.

Types of Travel Pillow Filling Material

Travel pillows come filled with a variety of materials, each with their own properties. Common options include:

Memory Foam – Slowly conforms to shape. Provides neck support and cushioning. Retains some heat.

Microbeads – Lightweight beads mold to shape. Make noise when moving. Retain body heat.

Polyester Fiberfill – Traditional smooth polyfill. Affordable option. Less moldability.

Foam Pieces – Shredded foam allows adjustability. More breathable.

Inflatable – Air adjustable to desired firmness. Vulnerable to leaks.

Buckwheat – Naturally conforms to shape. Provides moldable support. Can be noisy.

Consider your priorities like allergies, adjustability, heat sensitivity and noise when choosing fill material.

Benefits of Using a Travel Pillow

Travel pillows provide many advantages on the go:

  • Prevent neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Allow you to sleep in seated positions
  • Reduce muscle strain from poor head/neck alignment
  • Minimize exposure to germs on shared headrests
  • Can be positioned for lumbar support
  • Alleviate travel headaches and nausea
  • Contour to your shape for a “personalized” pillow
  • Improve quality of sleep when resting in unfamiliar places

Travel pillows make time spent in transit much more comfortable, allowing you to arrive refreshed and energized.

Tips for Choosing the Best Travel Pillow for Airplanes

For air travel, look for these ideal features:

  • Blocks head from rolling side to side
  • Chin support shelf for upright sleeping
  • Wraparound U-shaped design
  • Moldable fill like memory foam or microbeads
  • Inflatable for compact packing when deflated
  • Easily portable and lightweight
  • Detachable machine washable cover
  • Available in sizes for adults and kids

Being able to achieve quality sleep on long or red-eye flights can be a game changer. An effective travel pillow allows you to get some rest no matter how cramped the quarters.

Tips for Choosing the Best Travel Pillow for Road Trips

If you road trip frequently, look for these beneficial characteristics:

  • Contours to provide comfortable neck support
  • Portable, compact and lightweight
  • Provides lumbar support for lower back
  • Adjustable fill levels and positioning
  • Washable cover for easy cleaning
  • Can be used in variety of vehicles
  • Versatile for use camping or hotels too
  • Affordable price since used frequently
  • Comfortable enough for long distance trips

Having the right support makes all the difference in arriving pain-free and energized even after hours on the road. A quality travel pillow can transform any road trip.

Tips for Choosing the Best Travel Pillow for Trains

For train travel, these features maximize comfort:

  • Moldable shape conforms closely around neck
  • Chin shelf for stable frontal support
  • Wrap-around U-shaped design
  • Provides cushioning from train vibrations
  • Easy to inflate or deflate as needed
  • Durable and long-lasting with frequent use
  • Washer friendly cover for easy cleaning
  • Offers relief in both upright and sloped seats
  • Can be fastened to luggage with clips

Since train trips can involve overnight sleep, the ability to achieve quality supported rest is crucial. A comfortable travel pillow allows you to wake up refreshed.

Tips for Choosing the Best Travel Pillow for Camping

If using your travel pillow for camping, look for these beneficial traits:

  • Packs down small into luggage or backpack
  • Doesn’t take up much room in tent or camper
  • Moldable or inflatable style
  • Provides insulation for sleeping on ground
  • Sturdy, rugged materials that withstand outdoor use
  • Hooks to attach pillow to bag or tent
  • Machine washable cover for easy cleaning
  • Affordable price for replacement if lost
  • Offers support whether sleeping upright or lying down

Finding comfortable sleep positions when camping can be challenging. A compact yet supportive travel pillow removes one more barrier to much needed rest under the stars.

How to Clean a Travel Pillow

Follow these steps to keep your travel pillow fresh and sanitary:

  • For removable covers, unzip and machine wash warm with mild detergent. Air dry.
  • Spot treat pillow covers as needed using a gentle cleaner.
  • Some full pillows are machine washable. Check label for instructions.
  • ForMemory foam, air dry thoroughly before reuse or mildew can form.
  • Disinfect periodically by spraying pillow with antibacterial solution. Air dry before use.
  • Vacuum beads/foam fill pillows then restuff into cover.
  • If needed, use activated charcoal inserts to absorb odors naturally.

Proper care maximizes lifespan and prevents buildup of bacteria and allergens.

How to Disinfect a Travel Pillow

To sanitize your travel pillow between trips:

  • Remove cover and wash if removable
  • Spot clean any visible stains as needed
  • Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol or antibacterial solution
  • Spray pillow, letting it fully saturate material
  • Allow to air dry completely before reusing
  • Repeat process if heavily used before storing
  • Consider adding a charcoal deodorizer insert for absorption
  • For extra disinfecting, use a UV wand on pillow

Proper disinfecting reduces germs, allergens and odors from repeated use.

Travel Pillow Comparisons

Type Pros Cons Best For
Memory Foam Moldable support; retains heat Bulkier; slower rebound Neck & spine alignment
Inflatable Lightweight; adjust firmness Vulnerable to leaks; no structure Space-saving portability
Microbead Conforms to shape; portable Noise; heat retention On-the-go adjustability
Buckwheat Natural & breathable; molds to shape Makes noise with movement Neck support and airflow
Polyfill Soft & lightweight; affordable Less moldable; less durable Budget travel comfort

Consider tradeoffs like support vs. portability when choosing travel pillow fill and design.

Travel Pillow Tips and Tricks

  • Roll up a scarf or small blanket for impromptu pillow support
  • Use on plane or car floor to elevate legs and reduce swelling
  • Position against lower back for extra lumbar support
  • Attach pillow around neck to avoid dropping if you doze off
  • Add a pillowcase for softness and hygiene if non-removable cover
  • Tuck into suitcase corners to minimize wrinkled clothes
  • Use for meditation, yoga or exercise by adjusting thickness

Take your travel pillow beyond just sleeping to maximize usefulness!

When to Replace a Travel Pillow

Some signs indicate replacing your travel pillow:

  • Lost firmness, structure, and ability to rebound
  • Permanent flattening, even after washing
  • Stains or discoloration unable to be removed
  • Lingering unpleasant odors that persist after washing
  • Damage like holes, splitting seams or ripped cover
  • Visible mold or mildew due to improper drying
  • Insufficient support and excessive dipping or flattening
  • Neck pain indicating poor spinal alignment

Look for loss of loft, support and hygiene as signs to retire a well-loved travel pillow.

Travel Pillow Care and Maintenance Tips

  • Rotate or fluff pillow daily to maintain shape
  • Spot clean stains immediately with gentle cleaner
  • Disinfect periodically with antibacterial spray
  • Wash removable covers frequently
  • Air out any damp pillows fully before packing away
  • Repair any damage like rips right away
  • Replace if washing fails to restore loft and shape

With some basic care, your travel pillow should provide years of happy journeys.

Travel Pillow vs. Standard Pillow Key Differences

Travel Pillow Standard Pillow
Portable, compact Made for beds
Maintains shape in stuffer space Needs room to expand
Adaptable to seated positions Best for lying down
Emphasis on neck and head support Whole-body support
Moldable or inflatable Consistent flattened shape
Focus on upright spinal alignment Allows head to rest horizontally

Know when you need specialized travel support versus regular pillow comfort.

Innovative Specialty Travel Pillows

In addition to traditional styles, some modern travel pillow innovations include:

Self-Inflating – Self-inflate simply by exposing to air. No need to blow up manually. Deflates for compact packing.

Heated – Contain heating pads to provide soothing warmth. Helpful for sore necks.

Cooling – Special covers and materials pull heat away from skin and dissipate warmth. Ideal if you sleep hot.

Aromatherapy – Infused with soothing scents like lavender. Help relax and induce sleep.

Smart Sensors – Detect positioning and provide feedback through vibrations to optimize alignment.

Technology makes today’s travel pillows more advanced than ever.

Best Travel Pillows for Kids and Toddlers

When buying travel pillows for kids, look for:

  • Fun colors, characters and shapes they love
  • Machine washable cover
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Security strap attaches to child
  • Plush and squishy for comfort
  • Supportive memory foam models
  • Affordable pricing since used heavily

The right kids’ travel pillow helps them get much needed rest on long car rides or flights. Prioritize safety, softness and security.

Travel Pillow Tips for Airplane Comfort

  • Choose window seat to use wall for support
  • Adjust air vent above for neck warmth or cooling
  • Use pillows behind knees, lower back and neck
  • Earplugs and sleep mask block noise and light
  • Stay hydrated with water since dry air dehydrates

Originally posted on September 21, 2023 @ 2:00 am


  • Dr. Barry Jarvis

    Dr. Barry Jarvis is a renowned sleep specialist, dedicating their illustrious career to the intricate world of sleep medicine. Holding a medical degree from a prestigious institution, Dr. Jarvis has cultivated a deep understanding of the complex mechanisms that govern sleep and its pivotal role in overall health and well-being. With a compassionate approach and a meticulous eye for detail, Dr. Jarvis has helped countless individuals reclaim restful nights and vibrant days. Beyond their clinical expertise, they have contributed to groundbreaking research in sleep medicine, unraveling the mysteries of sleep disorders and pioneering innovative treatments that stand at the forefront of the field.

    View all posts

Dr. Barry Jarvis is a renowned sleep specialist, dedicating their illustrious career to the intricate world of sleep medicine. Holding a medical degree from a prestigious institution, Dr. Jarvis has cultivated a deep understanding of the complex mechanisms that govern sleep and its pivotal role in overall health and well-being. With a compassionate approach and a meticulous eye for detail, Dr. Jarvis has helped countless individuals reclaim restful nights and vibrant days. Beyond their clinical expertise, they have contributed to groundbreaking research in sleep medicine, unraveling the mysteries of sleep disorders and pioneering innovative treatments that stand at the forefront of the field.

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