Best Travel Pillows for Long Haul Flights
Investing in the best travel pillow can be great choice. Because if you are a regular long haul traveler, you will be familiar with the tribulations associated with such journeys.
After a while every airport begins to look the same, you have watched the same series of in-flight movies time and time again,
it grows incredibly tiresome that the steel plate in your knee from a sporting injury many moons ago continually sets off the metal detector, and worst of all, there’s the crick in the neck developed for forever squeezing yourself into a small seat,
contorting your body to increasingly unlikely angles in an attempt at catching up on the sleep you sacrificed in favor of a 5am check-in.
Best Travel Pillows Comparison Table
Zipped & Washable
11 x 12 x 3.8 inches
3" high, 7" wide
Full lateral support
Eco-friendly soft PVC flocking
Breathable soft polar fleece
Germ shield filter
Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal that we can do to help with most of these ailments, but this guide will at least help you discover a hitherto-untapped level of neck support and comfort by recommending some of the finest travel pillows available on the market today.
Look after your long-term musculoskeletal health by reading on and taking the necessary action.
Buyers Guide to Travel Pillows
Gone are the days when travel pillows came in a one-size-fits-all variety; you'll find a vast variety of different shapes and specialties on the market today, each of which offer different advantages and disadvantages based on what you are looking for.
Firstly, of course, you'll need to think about the dimensions of your pillow. Nobody wants to use up his or her entire hand luggage allocation on such a basic necessity, so consider portability.
Something small but functional is always best - and if the pillow can be folded, or inflated and deflated, so much the better.
The Way You Sleep
Then you'll need to think about the way you sleep, and if you have any pre-existing aches and pains that may play into your ability to rest while on the move.
- Do you have a back problem that requires an equal level of support?
- Do you tend to roll to one side and lean on your fellow passengers while you doze, and thus need something to keep you upright?
- Would you prefer a pillow that also provides a sensory deprivation service, such as blackout eyeshades or earplugs – or even pockets, so that you can plug in your MP3 player to lull yourself to sleep?
- What kind of fabric and stuffing are you most comfortable with?
All of these matters have been factored into our recommendations, and thus you'll find something that tailors to every preference further into this guide.
With so many different types of travel pillow available, we have unofficially divided our recommendations into five disparate categories.
Below you'll find the best travel pillow for portability; the finest memory foam travel pillow for long-term tailored comfort; the ideal travel pillow for anybody prone to rolling onto their side while dozing; the most effective travel pillow for those who prefer to experience absolute minimal disruption from outside influences, and the ideal purchase for anybody that may require additional back or neck support.
We have penned this guide with globetrotting adults in mind, but children's models of most of these items are also available for the miniature traveller in your life.
So, without further ado, read on for our tips on the five finest travel pillows currently obtainable online (sure, you could save yourself the effort of carrying such an item and pick one up at the airport, but you’ll notice a very significant discrepancy in pricing if you decide to do so!), and insights into just why these products offer the best ways to keep yourself comfortable while jet setting and engaging in cross-country railway journeys.
Our Top 5 Choices...
If you’re looking for something low-cost, sturdy and reliable, the TravelMate Memory Foam Neck Pillow is one of the most well-established and popular brands on the market.
For a little over $10 you’ll enjoy a conventional U-shaped pillow that utilizes memory foam that molds to your neck shape over time for maximum comfort without growing flat, covered in soft velour material.
The machine-washable TravelMate comes with a zipper and detachable insert that means you can have the pillow as thick or thin as you find preferable, and an elastic strip that means you can attach it to a suitcase for easy mobility.
PROS – Affordable, long-lasting and easily usable by just about any height or body shape, this is a perfect all-round pillow that will make sitting upright in an airplane, coach or train seat for a prolonged period much more comfortable.
CONS – The velour itself is soft to the touch, but the memory foam pillow inside is very firm – that may not appeal to anybody hoping for a squidgy headrest.
Essentially the same traditional shape and service as the Travelmate, this neck pillow comes in a standard U-shape and will easily make sitting upright in a travel seat considerably more comfortable.
Of course, the selling point here is the inflatable nature of the Lewis N. Clark – you can shrink this item down to virtually no size at all and slip it into your luggage, only inflating it as and when it’s required.
You can even tailor the firmness of the pillow to your preference, inflating or deflating as you see fit to find the perfect level of support for your neck.
PROS – This inflatable pillow is all about the flexibility. It won’t take up excessive space in your luggage, it can be blown up as thick or thin as you like (without giving yourself a coronary in the process – this pillow is easily inflated by mouth without the need to carry around a pump). It’s also very reasonably priced at under $15.
CONS – Like anything inflatable, there is no guarantee that this product will last as long as a permanent memory foam pillow – punctures, wear and tear and damaged plugs could occur after a few flights. Unsurprisingly, you may also have to sacrifice comfort for space if you use this pillow – an inflatable pillow will never feel as great as a memory foam fixture tailored to your own body.
A costlier pillow but fantastically versatile, the Travelrest is truly the best of all possible worlds.
Inflatable so that you can reduce the size of the pillow to a fist, once inflated this pillow can wrap around your neck, be folded across your check to provide neck support while also preventing your head from lolling into a neighboring seat, or even wrapped around your back or waist for lumbar support – this product was designed with ergonomic concerns in mind, meaning this is no quick cash-on product.
Available in gray, blue, green or red, the Travelrest has gathered quite a positive reputation among frequent flyers for a reason.
PROS – Many products can claim to be multipurpose, but very few perform as many functions quite as well as the Travelrest. Whatever your needs, this pillow will meet them with aplomb, all while rolling up into a tiny size when not in use.
CONS – As above, the inflatable nature of the Travelrest means that it might not be quite as comfortable as a memory foam or microbead pillow. The price may also seem steep to some infrequent travelers.
Coated in soft PVC and easily inflated, the Homecube is the perfect pillow for anybody concerned about aggravating neck or back problems while traveling.
It may be pretty big once it’s been inflated (which, mercifully, only takes a couple of conventional blows), but the deflated Homecube slips happily into a provided carry bag, and you can lay it on a table before you, behind your head, use it for lumbar support… just about any reasonable position that you can think of.
PROS – The most multi-purpose budget pillow on the market, anybody with just about any requirements will find something useful about the Homecube. Whatever position you prefer to doze in, and whatever musculoskeletal concerns you may already have, this pillow will factor them into consideration. The inflatable nature is also welcome, ensuring that you need not waste valuable packing space.
CONS – How can we put this delicately? While the Homecube is undoubtedly useful, utilizing it will make you look very … well, silly. This is not a subtle piece of kit. Some models have also been known to leak air, and nothing ruins the serenity of a nap faster than a pillow deflating and collapsing and leaving you to bump your head on a table.
5. Lights Out
Billed as ‘the first block out the world pillow’, the Lights Out Travel Pillow is essentially a neck pillow attached to a hood. Available in pink, red, gray or blue, the hood of the Lights Out can be pulled down over your face to block light from penetration, and it even contains a ‘germ shield’ – perfect for anybody nervous about sharing a flight with sniffling fellow passengers and getting sick before they even start their vacation.
PROS – The hood is lightweight, ensuring that you’ll need to worry about how to breathe while dozing, and easily washable. The germ shield is a huge bonus for anybody with a less-than-stellar immune system, and if you’re prone to drooling and gurning while you sleep, hiding away under the Lights Out will prevent unflattering photos appearing on social media!
CONS – The pillow is stuffed with microbeads rather than memory foam, so it is not quite as supportive as a specialist neck pillow – if absolute comfort is your priority over bonus features, the Lights Out may not be for you.