The Only 5 Travel Pillows For Long Flights Worth Buying In 2024

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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Travel pillows, often overlooked, can play a crucial role in maintaining our comfort and well-being during long flights or commutes. Proper neck support during travel is not merely a matter of comfort but a health question. I have endured the discomfort of neck pain more often than I would like to remember. I avoided travel pillows for the longest time, unconvinced of their effectiveness. However, a change in perspective and some research led me to give them a chance. This guide shines a light on those travel pillows that genuinely make a difference, as not all are created equal. Herein, I will delve into the only five travel pillows worth buying and packing in 2024, painstakingly selected for their quality and effectiveness. My advice is grounded on careful analysis and real user experiences, ensuring that these options are worth your attention and investment. You may not want a travel pillow after all, but trying one of the ones I recommend may make you change your mind.

What is the value of investing in quality travel pillows?

A quality travel pillow can be a good companion for any traveler, ensuring a restful journey free from the discomforts of travel-induced neck pain. Investing in a good travel pillow can significantly enhance the quality of your travel experiences. Despite being often overlooked, these seemingly simple accessories are game-changers for long-distance flights, train rides, or any travel scenario that demands hours of sitting.

It’s not just about filling the space between your neck and the headrest. Quality travel pillows are designed to provide optimal support, alleviating the stress placed on your neck muscles and promoting a comfortable posture. With the right pillow, the much-too-familiar pains and strains from sleeping upright in transit become a thing of the past.

Investing in a good travel pillow is just that – an investment. An investment in comfort, rest, and, ultimately, in your travel enjoyment. A quality pillow doesn’t just make your journeys bearable, it makes them comfortable, allowing you to reach your destination feeling refreshed rather than fatigued.

The benefits of quality travel pillows extend beyond comfort. A well-rested traveler is more alert and ready to explore their new surroundings. In contrast, a sleep-deprived, discomfort-ridden journey can cloud your travel experience. As such, a quality travel pillow is not merely a luxury – it’s an essential tool for every travel enthusiast.

If you are interested in the science behind neck support, this research provides insightful information about the importance of neck support and its implications for our health.

What are the different types of travel pillows available?

When choosing the right travel pillow, realizing there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution is essential. Much like regular pillows, travel pillows come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, each with unique benefits and potential drawbacks. Understanding these differences is crucial in finding the travel pillow that best suits your needs and preferences.

Traditional U-shaped travel pillows are perhaps the most commonly recognized type. They are designed to wrap around your neck, providing 360-degree support and preventing your head from falling to the side. They are usually filled with memory foam or similar material, offering a balance between comfort and support. However, they can be bulky, which might be a downside for some travelers.

Inflatable travel pillows, on the other hand, offer the advantage of being lightweight and highly portable. They can be deflated when unused, taking up very little space in your luggage. However, they might not provide the same level of comfort as their non-inflatable counterparts, and some people find inflating and deflating them inconvenient.

Memory foam travel pillows are praised for their combination of comfort and support. They mold to the shape of your neck and shoulders, providing personalized support that many travelers appreciate. However, they can be somewhat bulkier than other options, and some might find them too firm.

Ultimately, the best travel pillow depends on your preferences and comfort needs. Consider factors such as the length and frequency of your travels, your preferred sleeping position, and any specific comfort needs or issues you might have, such as neck pain or sensitivity to certain materials. Your perfect travel companion is out there – you need to find it!

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Best overall travel pillow: BCOZZY Neck Pillow
Patented double support design to help alleviate neck pain and sore shoulders.
Available in two sizes, Large and X-Large, catering to neck sizes up to 16” and above 16”, respectively.
– Offers three ways to adjust for comfort: double support under the chin, folded in half for side sleeping, and sliding the overlapping arms 90 degrees for heads that tend to fall both forward and to the side.
– Combines a breathable fabric shell of microfleece and microsuede with a soft ‘bounce back’ down alternative filling to balance softness and firmness.
– Adopts a flat-back design to maintain a more natural and relaxed neck alignment instead of bulkier models that can push the head forward.
Lightweight and practical with a handy carry case, snap loop for easy attachment to luggage, and machine washable for easy maintenance.
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What are the best pillows to use on an airplane?

When it comes to finding the ultimate travel pillow, personal testing is key. To give you an unbiased view, I’ve tested several market-leading options on long-haul flights and selected only the 5 that are worth it. My selection of the best travel pillows, all tried and tested, has been made independently with comfort and convenience in mind. The forthcoming reviews cover each pillow’s essential features. From traditional U-shaped options to innovative memory foam designs, get ready to find the perfect companion for your travel needs.

BCOZZY Neck Pillow for Travel

bcozzy travel pillow

The BCOZZY Neck Pillow is an innovative product in the sea of travel pillows. Its patented double support design tackles the recurring issue of neck pain and sore shoulders many travelers face when sleeping upright, whether on an airplane, in a car, or at home.

Available in two sizes, Large and X-Large, catering to neck sizes up to 16” and above 16” respectively, this pillow shows a deep understanding of individual comfort needs. Its design flexibility is not just limited to size. BCOZZY offers three ergonomic ways to adjust the pillow to your preferred sleeping position. You can use it to provide double support under the chin, fold it in half for side sleeping, or even slide the overlapping arms 90 degrees for those whose heads tend to fall both forward and to the side.

What sets the BCOZZY pillow apart from its competitors is its perfect balance between softness and firmness. It boasts a breathable fabric shell of cozy microfleece and cool microsuede, which houses a soft ‘bounce back’ down alternative filling. This combination ensures adequate comfort for the neck and head while still molding to your preferred position.

One of the biggest perks of the BCOZZY pillow is that it adopts a flat-back design. Unlike bulkier models that push the head forward, causing neck pain and muscle strain, the BCOZZY pillow aims to maintain a more natural and relaxed neck alignment. 

Not only does this pillow promise maximum comfort, but it also delivers practicality. It’s lightweight, has a handy carry case to keep it clean, and has a snap loop for easy attachment to luggage or hanging in the car. Maintenance is also a breeze as the BCOZZY pillow is machine washable, a feature not typically found in memory foam travel pillows. 

The BCOZZY Neck Pillow for Travel blends comfort, versatility, and user-friendly features, and it’s worth every penny if you value a pain-free travel experience.

Trtl Travel Pillow for Neck Support

The Trtl Travel Pillow showcases a scientifically proven, patented design that prioritizes ultimate neck support, offering top-tier comfort for travelers. This unique travel pillow is equipped with an internal support system that ensures your head and neck remain upright as you nap, guarding against potential aches, strains, or pains. Thus, it is essential to your airplane or car travel kit.

This neck pillow offers a genuinely immersive sleeping experience. Its super soft fleece, plush cushioning, and cozy shoulder support work harmoniously to lull you into a deep, refreshing sleep, transforming lengthy flights into an opportunity for rejuvenation.

In terms of practicality, the Trtl Travel Pillow is lightweight and compact. Unlike the regular U-shaped travel pillows that use memory foam, the Trtl Pillow is machine-washable and quick-drying. All you need to do is remove the internal support and place the wrap into the washing machine, ensuring a fresh, clean pillow awaits your next adventure.

The Trtl Travel Pillow champions comfort, practicality, and cleanliness, seamlessly blending these elements to enhance your travel experience.

Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow

Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow

The Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow is a multi-functional accessory designed with the needs of various types of travelers in mind. By offering adjustable support for your waist, head, neck, and shoulders, this pillow takes away the discomfort traditionally associated with extended periods of sitting. A flexible design that caters to your preferred sleeping posture provides an optimal platform for restful sleep and relaxation. In addition, it conveniently doubles as a prop for your phone, allowing you to enjoy movies or games during your travels.

This pillow comes packed with several complimentary gifts to enhance your travel experience. Along with the pillow, you’ll receive an eye mask, a pair of earplugs, and a drawstring bag. The provided drawstring bag also allows easy packing, ensuring the pillow does not take up unnecessary space in your carry-on luggage.

The Sunany pillow features a 2-in-1 double valve design, making inflation and deflation a breeze. The upper black air valve is a one-way air inlet for inflating or topping up the pillow, while the transparent air valve at the bottom allows for rapid inflation and deflation. Once you’ve finished inflating the pillow, you can push the clear cover on and push the entire valve in to flush it with the side of the pillow.

The soft PVC flocking is soft and gentle on your face, providing a soothing touch that enhances your comfort.

Despite its features, the Sunany pillow is surprisingly compact, ultralight, and highly portable. It’s pretty bulky when inflated, so it’s best for people not interested in keeping a low profile.

MLVOC Travel Pillow 100% Pure Memory Foam

MLVOC travel pillow

The MLVOC Travel Pillow is the emblem of exquisite design and thoughtfully upgraded functions, tailored to relieve neck fatigue effectively. This unique Y-shaped travel pillow features an adjustable buckle that allows you to modify the pillow angle and tightness. It boasts a 360° rotation ability, varying height, and thickness to suit diverse neck sizes. Its supportive design offers a comfortable experience, aiding in quick sleep and easing travel fatigue.

The memory foam formulation carries no odor and optimally rebounds within 3-5 seconds, perfectly conforming to your neck and chin. Further adding to the convenience is the washable pillowcase fitted with an invisible zipper, making it easily removable and clean.

In addition to its unmatched comfort, the MLVOC Travel Pillow comes with multi-functional accessories that enhance your travel experience. The package includes a 3D eye mask and earplugs, helping you sleep faster and enjoy uninterrupted rest during your trip. The convenient drawstring bag provides easy storage and portability, ensuring the travel pillow doesn’t take up much space in your carry-on luggage.

Furthermore, the MLVOC Travel Pillow is incredibly easy to maintain. The pillowcase, made from smooth and skin-friendly fabric, is lint-free and fade-resistant. It is equipped with an invisible zipper, allowing for easy removal and cleaning. Toss it in the washing machine; it will be fresh and ready for your next adventure.

MVLOC is affordable and the perfect companion for a no-frills and truly restful and enjoyable journey.

Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow

The Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow is designed to provide unparalleled comfort and support for your waist, head, neck, and shoulders, ensuring that you no longer have to endure uncomfortable positions while trying to relax or sleep. Unlike traditional airline travel pillows, this innovative pillow is designed to contour to almost any shape and position you desire, offering a truly customized experience for pain relief and relaxation.

One of the standout features of this travel pillow is its versatility. It’s not just a neck pillow; it can be twisted and shaped to support your head, back, shoulder, or cervical spine. Whether you’re taking a nap, relaxing, reading in bed, on a recliner, or even on the couch, this pillow covers you.

Keeping the pillow clean is a breeze. The memory foam pillow has a breathable and machine-washable cotton cover, making it easy to maintain freshness and cleanliness for your next adventure or trip. Simply remove the cover, toss it in the washing machine, and you’re ready.

The Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow excels in both comfort and versatility. Its ability to contour to your desired shape and position provides personalized support and pain relief, making it ideal for various activities and travel situations. Easy to clean and convenient to carry, this travel pillow is a must-have accessory for anyone seeking a more comfortable and enjoyable journey.

How to Choose the Right Travel Pillow for Your Needs?

Choosing the right travel pillow can be a game-changer for your journey, drastically improving your comfort and sleep quality. But how do you select the ideal one for your needs? Consider the following factors to guide your decision.

Firstly, comfort is paramount. Your pillow should support your neck and head enough to avoid strain during prolonged travel. Test different types of pillows, such as memory foam, inflatable, or bead-filled, to find out which material feels most comfortable. Pay attention to the contour and firmness of the pillow, as these elements contribute significantly to your comfort level.

Secondly, size matters. A good travel pillow should be compact enough for easy portability but substantial enough to provide adequate support. You don’t want a pillow that bulks up your luggage but is too small to do its job effectively. Check the product dimensions before buying.

Ease of use is another critical factor. Look for a pillow that’s easy to inflate or deflate, if applicable, and consider how simple it is to attach to your luggage. A pillow that’s difficult to use will only add to your travel stress.

Price also plays a significant role. While it’s crucial not to skimp on comfort, finding a balance between cost and quality is also wise. More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Some affordable travel pillows offer exceptional comfort and convenience.

Lastly, consider your travel habits. Do you usually sleep leaning to the side, or does your head tend to fall forward? Different designs cater to different sleep positions. By understanding your habits, you can select a pillow that best supports your preferred sleeping position.

Remember, a travel pillow is an investment in your comfort and well-being while on the move. Take your time to choose the one that’s just right for you.

buying a travel pillow

What factors should you consider when buying a travel pillow?

Selecting a travel pillow is a personal choice that should prioritize your comfort needs, particularly during long-distance travel. Here are vital factors to consider when making your selection:

  • Type of Pillow: As we’ve mentioned, there are different travel pillows – U-shaped, inflatable, memory foam, microbead, and more. Each has its own set of benefits. Memory foam pillows offer great support and comfort, inflatables are highly portable, and microbeads conform well to your neck and head shape.
  • Size and Portability: The size of your pillow can affect its portability. If you’re a frequent flyer and space is a concern, a compact and lightweight pillow, possibly inflatable, would be the best option. 
  • Comfort and Support: The main reason for getting a travel pillow is to achieve comfort and support during your journey. Look for a pillow with excellent neck and head support to prevent muscle strains or pain. Memory foam pillows are particularly known for their superior comfort and support.
  • Ease of Use: Look for a pillow that’s easy to use, clean, and maintain. Some pillows come with removable and washable covers, which can be a big plus. If you’re considering an inflatable, make sure it’s easy to inflate and deflate.
  • Price: The price of travel pillows can range considerably. While finding something within your budget is essential, don’t compromise on comfort and support to save a few bucks.
  • Additional Features: Some travel pillows come with added features such as eye masks, earplugs, or carry bags. While unnecessary, these extras can provide added value and enhance your travel experience.

Are inflatable travel pillows comfortable for long journeys?

Inflatable travel pillows can be comfortable for long journeys, although comfort is subjective and largely depends on individual preferences and the specific design of the pillow. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Adjustable Firmness: One significant advantage of inflatable travel pillows is that you can adjust the firmness to suit your comfort level. You can inflate it fully for firmer support or less for a softer feel. This flexibility can be especially helpful on a long journey where your comfort needs might change.
  • Ergonomic Design: Many inflatable travel pillows are designed with ergonomic considerations. They may have a contoured shape to support the neck and head better, reducing the likelihood of muscle strain or discomfort over long periods.
  • Portability: Inflatable pillows can be deflated and folded into a very compact size, making them highly portable and convenient for travel. This might not directly contribute to comfort during use but adds to overall travel convenience.
  • Material: The comfort of an inflatable pillow can also depend on the material used. Some come with a soft and breathable cover, which can increase comfort by preventing excessive heat buildup and providing a pleasant texture against your skin.
  • Noise: An aspect that may affect your comfort is the potential noise from the pillow. Some inflatable pillows can make a crinkling sound when you move, which could be a distraction, especially in quieter environments like airplanes.

While inflatable travel pillows can provide comfort on long journeys, they may not offer the same plush molding support as memory foam or microbead pillows. It’s essential to consider your personal comfort preferences, the specific design of the pillow, and other factors like convenience and ease of use when choosing the best travel pillow for your needs.

How to choose between memory foam and inflatable travel pillows?

Choosing between memory foam and an inflatable travel pillow involves considering key factors. Each type of pillow has its advantages and potential drawbacks, and the choice will largely depend on your personal preferences, comfort needs, and the nature of your travel.

  • Comfort: Memory foam pillows can provide superior comfort as they contour to the shape of your neck and head, offering consistent and personalized support. They may help relieve pressure points and prevent neck and shoulder pain during travel. However, some people find memory foam too firm or too hot. In contrast, inflatable pillows allow you to adjust the firmness to your liking, but they might not provide as contoured or stable a support as memory foam.
  • Portability: Inflatable pillows usually win on portability. They can be deflated and folded to a very compact size, making them easy to pack in a carry-on or attach to your luggage. Memory foam pillows, however, are bulkier and harder to compress, taking up more space in your luggage. Some come with a compressible travel bag but will still be larger than their inflatable counterparts.
  • Durability: Memory foam pillows tend to be more durable and retain their shape over time. Inflatable pillows, while often made of robust material, can be prone to leaks that might compromise their longevity and performance.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Many memory foam pillows come with removable, machine-washable covers, making them easy to clean. Inflatable pillows can also be easy to clean, but you need to ensure the valve is secure and won’t let water inside during washing.
  • Price: Generally, inflatable pillows are less expensive than memory foam pillows, but there’s a broad price range in both categories, with higher-end models offering more features.

How does the design of a travel pillow affect neck support during travel?

The design of a travel pillow plays a crucial role in providing neck support during travel and can directly impact your comfort level, especially during long journeys. Several design factors come into play:

  • Shape: The most common shape for travel pillows is the U or C shape, designed to cradle the neck, but there are many others, such as J, rectangular, or even innovative ones like the Trtl pillow, which supports the neck with an internally structured wrap. Some shapes may provide better lateral support (preventing your head from falling to the sides), while others may focus more on forward support (preventing chin drop).
  • Material: The material of the pillow affects how it supports the neck. Memory foam pillows, for example, conform to the contours of your neck, providing personalized support. Inflatable pillows can be adjusted for firmness but might not provide stable or contoured support. Microbead pillows can also conform to your neck but may not provide the same firm support as memory foam.
  • Flat-back design: Some pillows, like the BCOZZY, have a flat-back design. This feature prevents your head from being pushed forward when leaning back against a seat, a common issue with bulky U-shaped pillows, and can significantly increase comfort for some travelers.
  • Adjustability: Some travel pillows offer adjustability features like straps or drawstrings. These design elements allow you to secure the pillow, avoiding unnecessary neck strain caused by the pillow moving out of position.
  • Height and thickness: A travel pillow’s height and thickness should align with the length of your neck and the extent of your curvature. If it’s too thick or thin, it may not provide adequate support, leading to discomfort or pain over time.
  • Ergonomics: Ergonomic designs consider the natural posture and movement of the neck and shoulders. These pillows may provide superior support and comfort.

How do I clean my travel pillow?

Maintaining and cleaning your travel pillow properly is important for hygiene and ensuring it remains supportive and comfortable over time. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  • Check the Care Label: Not all travel pillows are made from the same materials, so it’s essential to read the manufacturer’s care instructions before cleaning your travel pillow. Some pillows are fully machine washable, while others only have removable covers that can be washed.
  • Machine Wash: If your pillow is machine washable, use a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent damage to the foam or filling. Mild detergent is usually best, and avoid using bleach or fabric softener, which could degrade the material.
  • Hand Wash: For pillows that aren’t machine washable, you can typically hand wash them using mild soap and warm water. Gently scrub the pillow, careful not to be too rough on the material. 
  • Drying: Always air dry your travel pillow. Memory foam and other types of foam should not be put in the dryer as the heat can degrade the material. Hang the pillow up or place it in a well-ventilated area until it’s completely dry. Ensure the pillow is fully dry before using or storing it to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Spot Cleaning: You can do a spot clean for minor stains or spills. Use a mild detergent mixed with water and a soft cloth or sponge to clean the affected area.
  • Maintaining Shape and Support: Over time, your travel pillow might lose some of its original shape and support. Fluffing the pillow regularly can help maintain its shape. For memory foam pillows, remember that they might take a few hours to return to their original shape after being compressed.
  • Storage: Store your travel pillow in a cool, dry place when not in use. Some travel pillows come with a bag that can protect the pillow from dust and dirt when unused.
Travel pillows cons and pros

What are the cons of a travel pillow?

While travel pillows can provide comfort and support during long trips, they also have potential downsides. One of the main issues is portability and storage; travel pillows, especially non-inflatable ones, can be bulky and take up valuable luggage space. Additionally, not all travel pillows suit all body types or sleeping styles, potentially leading to discomfort or neck pain. Temperature can also be a concern as some materials used in travel pillows can retain heat, causing discomfort in warmer climates or during summer travel. From a hygiene perspective, travel pillows can harbor bacteria and allergens if not cleaned regularly, which can sometimes be inconvenient. Another consideration is cost; high-quality travel pillows can be expensive, and infrequent travelers may not feel they’re getting their money’s worth. Some travelers may also find having an extra item to carry, especially on long journeys or in cramped spaces, a hassle. Lastly, some people may feel self-conscious about using a travel pillow, especially if it’s larger or more unusual-looking.

What are the pros of a travel pillow?

Travel pillows can be a valuable asset for frequent travelers, offering a number of potential benefits. Firstly, they can enhance comfort during long journeys or flights by supporting the neck and head, reducing the likelihood of discomfort or aches. This makes the travel experience more enjoyable and can aid in achieving restful sleep, a significant benefit for those crossing time zones or needing to be well-rested upon arrival. High-quality travel pillows are often designed with durability, providing good value over time as they can withstand frequent use. Another advantage is that many are compact or even inflatable, meaning they take up minimal space in luggage and are easy to transport. Furthermore, many high-end travel pillows have removable and washable covers, promoting hygiene and cleanliness.

Is investing in a high-quality travel pillow worth it?

Travel pillows can significantly enhance your experience, offering comfort and support during long journeys. This guide has navigated through the importance of quality travel pillows, explored different types, and provided detailed reviews of the top five in the market. Whether you prefer the ergonomic double support of the BCOZZY pillow, the pure memory foam of MLVOC, the scientifically proven neck support from Trtl, or the multi-functionality of the Dot&Dot or Sunany inflatable pillows, there’s a perfect match for your needs. Remember, the best travel pillow suits your personal comfort preferences, travel habits, and budget. Try one of those and decide whether you are a travel pillow person or not! Travel well, and sleep better.

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