Choosing the best travel pillow may make your next trip a little more comfortable, but you’ll need to compare options to select the right pillow. To save time, check out our top picks, their main features, and the most important details to consider before buying.
What’s the Best Travel Pillow?
Whether you’re riding as a passenger in a car, bus, train, or plane, getting quality sleep isn’t typically easy. With the right travel pillow, you can finally enjoy some rest on your way to your next destination.
So, what’s the best travel pillow? We understand the importance of sleep, which is why we compile a list of our top seven picks.
Our Top 7 Picks for the Best Travel Pillows:
- Best Overall: MLVOC Travel Pillow
- Best for Multiple Sleeping Positions: Point2Points Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow
- Best Inflatable Pillow: AirComfy Daydreamer Travel Neck Pillow
- Best for a Custom Fit: TRTL Pillow
- Best for Optimal Support: BCOZZY Neck Pillow for Travel
- Best Budget Pillow: World’s Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow
- Best for Staying Cool: Chill-O Travel Pillow with Solid Memory Foam Gel
Why You Need a Travel Pillow
Traveling long distances may interfere with your sleep schedule, as sleeping isn’t easy when you’re a passenger in a vehicle. The solution is to pack a travel pillow, which is also sometimes called a neck pillow.
A travel pillow is a small pillow that can support your head and neck when you can’t recline to a prone position. The curve of the pillow keeps your neck from straining and reduces stress on your spine, which decreases the risk of neck pain.
When you fall asleep in a car or on a plane without a travel pillow, you’re likely to wake up with a sore neck. This is due to the way that your neck bends when in a seated position.
The neck includes the cervical spine, which is made up of seven bones cushioned by disks and supported by muscle. The slight curve of the cervical spine is called the “lordotic cervical curve”. Without a pillow, you can’t maintain the natural curve, which adds stress to your neck and leads to neck pain.
Using a travel pillow allows you to get proper rest during your travels. However, you can also use them at home or work, such as when sitting in an office chair. No matter where you use the pillow, it may help prevent fatigue, reduce snoring, and leave you feeling more refreshed.
The 7 Best Travel Pillows in 2022
A travel pillow is a great accessory, but how did we select the best options? We focused on a variety of features, including comfort, materials, portability, support, and value.
Whether you want the most comfortable pillow, the most compact option, or the cheapest pillow, one of the following picks should suit your needs.
1. Best Overall: MLVOC Travel Pillow
- Supportive memory foam with a breathable cover
- Includes eye masks, earplugs, and a carry bag
- Features an adjustable rope lock
- Doesn’t provide complete chin support
- Not the most compact travel pillow
The MLVOC Travel Pillow stands out as the best travel pillow due to its comfort and overall value. It’s an affordable pillow that comes with eye masks, earplugs, and a bag for storing it all.
While everything fits in the provided bag, it’s not the most compact size. The pillow has a U-shaped design with contoured edges to better fit the natural curve of your neck.
The pillow is incredibly comfortable thanks to its memory foam material and the soft cover but may not work well if you tend to tuck your head down when sleeping while sitting up. The pillow doesn’t provide complete chin support.
However, the ergonomic design should work well for most travelers. It may also help alleviate neck pain from sitting for prolonged periods, whether you’re riding as a passenger or sitting at a desk.
2. Best for Multiple Sleeping Positions: Point2Points Twist Travel Pillow
- The twistable design accommodates any sleeping position
- Made with soft memory foam material
- Includes a washable, breathable cover
- It may not be tall enough for some individuals
- The plastic core makes noises as you adjust the pillow
The Point2Points Twist Travel Pillow is the top choice for those that toss and turn. You can use this pillow in almost any sleeping position. It has a log-shaped design with memory foam cushioning and a soft, breathable cover.
You can wrap the pillow around your neck, as you would with a standard U-shaped pillow. However, you can also place it under your chin or use it to support the side of your head.
Several customers have pointed out that they wish the pillow was thicker or taller. While most people find that the pillow is supportive, it may not work well for those with longer necks or very tall individuals.
The pillow is also a little noisy when you adjust it, due to the plastic core inside the memory foam. However, once you get the pillow into position, you should have no problem drifting off to sleep.
3. Best Inflatable Pillow: Daydreamer Travel Neck Pillow
- Includes a built-in air pump
- Takes up less space when deflated
- Includes a soft micro-velvet cover
- Makes squeaking sounds when moving
- It may wear out quickly with repeated use
The AirComfy Daydreamer is an inflatable pillow. However, unlike most inflatable pillows, it has a built-in pump. You simply press the button on the front of the pillow to inflate it without needing to blow air into the pillow.
The inflatable design allows you to increase or decrease the amount of support to suit your preferences. The design also allows the pillow to take up less space when deflated. It folds into a tiny carry bag that you can toss in your luggage or a large pocket.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the most durable travel pillow. Customers have noticed that the seams can start to split with frequent use. However, it’s also an affordable pillow and convenient to use.
4. Best for a Custom Fit: TRTL Pillow
- The wrap-around design allows for a custom fit
- One of the most durable travel pillow options
- Works with a variety of sleep positions
- Doesn’t offer the best support
- Doesn’t include a storage bag
The TRTL Pillow is a unique option, as it’s more of a thick scarf than a pillow. The super-soft fleece material wraps around your neck to provide support for your head and neck in any sleeping position.
You can easily position the pillow to better suit your sleeping position and comfort. For example, you can add more of the pillow to one side of your head or stuff more of the material under your chin for added chin support.
The versatility of this option makes it a great choice for adults and children of all sizes. While most customers enjoy the design, some people have mentioned that it doesn’t provide enough support.
You may need to experiment by wrapping the pillow in different ways to get just the right fit.
When not in use, the pillow folds into a small compact shape. It measures just a little over 7 x 7 x 3.5 inches. As it doesn’t include a fill material, it may also last longer compared to some of the other options.
5. Best for Optimal Support: BCOZZY Neck Pillow for Travel
- Includes a wrap-around design for added support
- Available in multiple sizes and a variety of colors
- Fits into a small carry bag
- Not very breathable
- You may feel a little constricted
The BCOZZY neck pillow has a wrap-around O-shaped design. It wraps entirely around your neck to support your neck and chin. You can also use it in almost any sleeping position. The pillow is made with polyester filling and covered with fleece.
It’s a soft pillow that you can stuff into the provided carry bag to take up less space. The BCOZZY pillow includes a couple of potential drawbacks, including a lack of breathability.
The material isn’t very breathable, which may cause you to sweat a little more when riding in a warm environment. Some customers also felt a little constricted by the large wrap-around pillow.
You may need to try adjusting and positioning the pillow in different ways to get a comfortable fit. Despite a couple of drawbacks, the BCOZZY pillow remains a great choice for those that want the most supportive travel pillow.
6. Best Budget Pillow: World’s Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow
- One of the softest travel pillows
- Includes a snap closure to secure the pillow
- The fiber-filled material offers great support
- It may not hold up as long compared to other pillows
- Doesn’t include any accessories
The World’s Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow is the cheapest option that still offers a comfortable sleeping experience. Along with a low price, this pillow is one of the softest options available.
It includes recycled polyester fibers and a microfiber cover. The filling is soft yet firm enough to support your neck. The microfiber cover is also soft and one of the most durable choices.
The pillow has a C-shaped design that curves around your neck and partially supports your chin. However, you can wear the pillow backward to add more chin support. The two sides of the pillow are secured with a button to keep it from sliding off.
The neck pillow also comes in a variety of colors. However, it may not last as long as some of the other pillows. If you’re a frequent traveler, you can expect the cover to show signs of wear after a dozen or so trips.
7. Best for Staying Cool: Chill-O Travel Pillow With Solid Memory Foam Gel
- The gel layer helps keep you cool
- Fits in a small storage bag
- Comes with a carabiner for securing the bag
- Doesn’t include a wrap-around design
- Weighs more than other options
The Chill-O Travel Pillow is the best choice for those that want to stay cool. It includes a memory foam filler with a gel layer. The gel layer makes the pillow more breathable, which is often a problem for memory foam pillows.
The outside of the pillow includes a soft, plush material. The cover is removable, making it easier to keep your pillow clean.
The pillow doesn’t wrap around your neck. It’s a rectangular pillow, which means it may not work for those that need chin support. It also weighs more than other options, but still folds into a small storage bag for easier storage.
Finding the Best Travel Pillow for You
Everyone has different needs when it comes to a travel pillow and comparing the following features can help you narrow your options to make the best pick for your specific concerns.
Support and Shape
Support is the most important feature when looking for a travel pillow, as the pillow is intended to support your neck when in a seated position. The support provided by the pillow depends on its shape. Along with the traditional rectangular pillow shape, you can find travel pillows in a variety of shapes and designs.
Most travel pillows have a U-shape, which allows them to support the back and sides of your neck. It keeps your head from falling too far to either side. However, a U-shaped pillow may not support your chin.
If you tend to drop your head forward when sleeping, you may need a C-shaped or O-shaped pillow. C-shaped travel pillows extend further around your neck to help support the chin. An O-shaped pillow wraps completely around your neck to provide 360-degree support.
Travel pillows are available with a variety of fill materials. Inflatable travel pillows are also available. However, if you want to avoid inflating a pillow before each nap, you may want to compare the following fill materials:
- Memory foam
Memory foam and polyester are synthetic materials. These options are typically non-allergenic and offer medium firmness. Memory foam and polyester pillows are typically soft, yet firm enough to support your head and neck.
With down and other feathers, your head feels like it’s resting on a cloud. However, over time, the fill material may become compacted, resulting in a less comfortable pillow.
Buckwheat, bamboo, and microbeads tend to provide more support and less cushioning, which can make them less comfortable. A buckwheat pillow also tends to make noise as the small buckwheat hulls shift and rub against each other.
The outside of the pillow may include a removable cover or a permanent cover. A removable cover makes it easier to wash your pillow after each trip. You can wash away the sweat, grime, and debris to keep your pillow soft and clean.
Manufacturers also use different materials for the cover. Common options include microfiber, cotton, nylon, polyester, and flannel. Cotton and flannel covers are soft, but highly absorbent, which may leave your skin feeling dry after a long rest.
Microfiber is a popular choice for pillow covers due to its soft feel. It’s also less absorbent compared to cotton and flannel, which means that it doesn’t get dirty as quickly or absorb all your skin’s moisture.
Travel pillows are often compact and easy to carry anywhere. However, some options are more portable than others.
For example, some travel pillows fold or roll up into a pocket or carry bag to take up less space. An inflatable pillow often takes up the least amount of space when deflated.
If you plan on packing your travel pillow in your carry-on bag or a small day trip backpack, you may want one of the smaller options. Check the overall dimensions of the pillow to ensure it’ll fit in your bag.
A breathable pillow can help keep you cool. Most airplanes maintain a cabin temperature of about 72-degrees Fahrenheit. However, you may experience warmer conditions on a bus, train, or car ride. Choosing a pillow with breathable material prevents the accumulation of sweat and helps maintain a cooler surface.
Cotton and polyester are two of the most breathable materials. Memory foam is one of the least breathable and more likely to trap body heat.
You can also find gel pillows. A travel pillow filled with a gel may reduce the buildup of heat on the surface of the pillow. Memory foam pillows may include a layer of gel to keep the pillow cooler.
Colors and Prints
Travel pillows come in many colors and designs. You can find pillows with solid-color designs and wild prints, such as leopard prints and floral prints.
If you’re buying travel pillows for multiple people in your family or travel party, consider getting different colors or patterns. You can easily remember which pillow is yours.
Most travel pillows come in a one-size-fits-most size. However, some options are available in multiple sizes for a more custom fit. Kids may receive more support with a smaller size while those with large builds may prefer the largest option available.
If you’re a frequent traveler, you may prefer a travel pillow that can hold up to repeated use. The type of material used for the cover influences the durability of the pillow.
For example, polyester is one of the most durable materials. With proper care, a polyester pillow may last at least five years.
Polyester is less likely to suffer from scratches and snags compared to cotton. It’s also less absorbent, which makes removing stains a little easier. Microfiber is also a top choice due to its durability and ability to withstand stains.
When it comes to filling material, memory foam tends to last the longest. It takes longer for the material to break down and become compact due to the collection of sweat and grime.
Travel pillows aren’t typically expensive items. Most options cost less than $50. However, if you’re strapped for cash, you can find pillows for less than $15.
Keep in mind that cheaper pillows may not last long. You may need to replace your pillow after a few trips.
Most travel pillows include a storage bag for helping the pillow take up less space. You can also find options with additional accessories, such as sleep masks, earplugs, and blankets.
However, the accessories are often cheap and included to increase the perceived value of the product. While accessories are a good bonus, they won’t impact the comfort and support provided by the travel pillow.
Unique Design Features
To help products stand out, some manufacturers add interesting design features to pillows. For example, you can find travel pillows with hoods or blankets attached to the cover.
Some options include straps for securing the pillow to a headrest, keeping it from moving around as much. Other designs include straps and buckles for securing the pillow around your neck.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use the following FAQ to find answers to any remaining questions about choosing the best travel pillow:
Is It Worth Getting a Travel Pillow?
If you take long trips, a travel pillow is worth the investment. It can help improve the quality of your sleep when resting on an airplane flight or long ride on a car or bus. You can support your neck instead of waking up with a cramp.
Do Travel Pillows Go in Front or Back?
Most travel pillows are designed to go around the back of your neck, providing support for the back and sides of your neck. However, you can also flip the pillow and wear it around your front. Wearing a U-shaped travel pillow under the chin can provide chin support, which is useful if you tend to roll your head forwards during naps in a seated position.
Can I Carry a Pillow on a Plane?
Yes, most airlines allow you to carry a pillow onto a plane. You can typically carry it separately from your carry-on bag, assuming the pillow isn’t oversized. You may also pack it in your carry-on bag and take it out when you’re ready for a nap.
How Often Should I Buy a New Travel Pillow?
Most experts suggest replacing your pillow every one to two years. Pillows accumulate allergens, including dust mites, mold, and dust. However, if you don’t travel frequently, your travel pillow may last longer, as you’re not laying on it every night.
Are Travel Pillows Good for Neck Pain?
Travel pillows may help prevent neck pain, as they help maintain the natural curve of the cervical spine in your neck. You may also ease pressure on muscles in your neck and shoulders, which may decrease the risk of cramps and nerve pain.
The Best Travel Pillows: Final Thoughts
While you have a variety of travel pillows to choose from, the MLVOC Travel Pillow is our top recommendation. It’s soft and comfortable yet supportive enough for most sleeping positions.
You also get accessories, including eye masks and earplugs, helping you get better rest on your next trip. However, we think anything on this list is worth buying.