Is there anything worse than trying to sleep on a plane? Sometimes long trips are unavoidable, and sleeping on-the-go is necessary. But how to sleep while sitting up? A recent study finds that aches and pains are a common complaint among travelers. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile, one key to comfort is great neck support. Make the most of your trip with the best travel pillow on the market! Read on to see our list of 14 expert picks for the top five traveler-approved finds.
If you’re feeling in a rut, overworked, or lonely and disconnected, it may be time for a vacation. It will come as no surprise that one study shows people who travel are happier than those who don’t. Even those who commute on a regular basis may boast better mental and physical well-being. But be sure to take enough time off to really make it count. According to another survey, it takes Americans about four days to stop thinking about work and enjoy their time off.
When it comes to spending hours in a small space with your fellow travelers, good etiquette is essential. It’s important to settle in and get comfortable, whether it’s with a good book, a movie, or your favorite music and a snack. But maybe don’t recline your seat without first asking the person behind you, if you don’t want to appear rude. Other travel no-no’s? Don’t take off your shoes and socks and think twice about striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. (Especially if they’ve got a book, a movie or music…)
Getting enough Zs will certainly ensure a better trip. A nap along the way can make all the difference in feeling happy and confident when you arrive at your destination. Below are the top five expert-recommended travel pillows to help you get the rest you need. Let us know which of these gives you the best travel Zs!
The List: Best Travel Pillows Most Recommended By Experts
1. Trtl Travel Pillow
You may look like a turtle while snuggling up in the Trtl Travel Pillow, but does any neck pillow really scream “chic”? In any case, this is one pillow that’s worth the “awkward turtle” effect. “Any qualms about looking silly instantly disappear as soon as you put this unique travel pillow to use,” says AFAR. “‘It feels a little strange putting it on the first time and sort of looks like a neck brace,’ said Rosalie Tinelli, AFAR’s senior audience development manager, in her review of the Trtl. ‘But who cares how it looks when you’re getting peaceful sleep on an airplane and waking up with zero neck stiffness?'”
The Strategist rates it as the best overall travel pillow, writing, “This travel neck pillow is not the traditional U-shape, it has no fill, and is very thin, but it still takes the top spot on our list. It has the most recommendations from our experts and achieves the main goal of a neck pillow — to prevent lateral bending in the neck — in the most compact way. Its design is unique to anything else on this list. It’s more like a padded scarf, but has a plastic brace inside that supports the head, explains Pack Hacker editor Lauren Maternowski. … Strategist associate director of e-commerce-audience development Rosie Percy says that, with the adjustable Trtl, she was ‘able to sleep through a flight for the first time in my adult life, touching down feeling refreshed and without a crick in my neck.’”
“We also loved the machine-washable Trtl pillow, and while it could be a taut for someone who doesn’t like, say, a snug scarf feeling, we found it both comfortable and supportive,” says Buy Side from WSJ.
2. Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow
Tried and tested and coming up just right, “The Cabeau Evolution S3 is the Goldilocks of travel pillows: We found it firm enough to support our head and neck, soft enough to fall asleep on and perfectly portable, thanks to its being made of springy memory foam that enables you to compress it to half its size,” praises CNN Underscored.
GearLab agrees, “Whether you are a front, side, or head-back sleeper, the Cabeau Evolution S3 is an incredibly comfortable, versatile, and trusted travel pillow. The memory foam provides just enough support without being too stiff, while a slimmer back allows for proper spine alignment and doesn’t push your chin forward in an uncomfortable way like other Cabeau models. The raised sides and adjustable clasp help keep your head in place, and the adjustable velcro straps easily slip over any headrest to hold the pillow in place. The plush polyester cover features a small built-in pocket and is removable so it can be machine washed after your trip. The Evolution S3 rolls up effortlessly to more than half its size and includes a travel bag with a large, zippered top that makes packing quick and simple.”
Condé Nast Traveller points out an extra-special feature: “The foam in this pillow is extremely comfortable, but what I love most is that the back of the pillow is flat, so you can sit right up against your seat, unlike the typical travel pillow styles which tend to be round and tilt your neck down slightly.”
3. Ostrichpillow Go Neck Pillow
People touts this as the best “splurge” travel pillow, writing, “If you’re willing to pay a little extra for the best of the best, go with Ostrichpillow. The brand’s Go Neck Pillow is one of the few options that earned perfect scores in all testing categories. After using it on a short domestic flight and a long international flight, our tester raved about the comfortable design. ‘It feels like wrapping a marshmallow around your neck,’ she said.”
Mattress Clarity says you’ll get 360-degree comfort and support: “A standout among travel pillows comes from Ostrichpillow. The company makes a variety of travel items, but the Go Neck pillow is one of the best travel pillows we’ve encountered. This pillow has an ergonomic design and offers 360 degrees of both comfort and support for your neck. It’s made of a soft, slow-moving memory foam core that provides good support.”
“Encased in an easily removable and washable sleeve, the pillow compresses down to almost half its size into an included pouch for easy packability,” adds AFAR.
4. Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow
This classic find is known for its indulgent memory foam. “According to one tester, the Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow was reminiscent of ‘those memory foam mattresses you can try out at the mall, except more comfortable.’ It is made of plush memory foam and provides complete neck support without feeling too stiff or soft. The tester appreciated the exceptionally responsive memory foam that molds to the shape of your neck and head whether you’re sleeping, reading, or watching a movie,” says Travel + Leisure.
TripSavvy likes the details and price point of the design, “The pillow doesn’t deflate, but it has a clasp that keeps it from slipping around your neck and makes it easy to latch the pillow onto your bag when not in use. It comes with a soft cover that’s removable and machine washable. Most of all, it’s affordable at just $30 and way better designed than most competitors at the same price point.”
Wirecutter touts its adjustability and availability: “Its adjustable string closure also means that you can fit the pillow much tighter around your neck … making it a good choice for people with smaller necks or people who prefer a more constricted fit. Additionally, it’s the only one of our picks that we’ve regularly seen in stores located behind the security checkpoint at many airports.”
5. BCOZZY Travel Pillow
Sleepopolis notes that this pillow offers the best chin support. “This pillow features an ergonomic, circle-like design that can be used in three main ways: You can wrap it around your neck for excellent chin support, turn it to one side for head support, or fold it in half and tuck it between your head and shoulder for a little extra loft. Regardless of how you use it, this pillow was crafted to keep your chin from drooping down while you slumber!”
“It provides complete 360-degree neck support, and you can create different support heights with the overlapping ends. If you have a shorter neck, you can lean your head on just one level of the pillow. And if you’re a bit of a giraffe (like me…), you can double the ends together to get more support. You can also fold it in half to get even more cushioning if you’re in a window seat. The flexible design means you either lean on the pillow or wrap it a bit tighter to keep your head more upright. I also found the flatter back section meant it doesn’t push your head forward when you’re flying — a problem that chunkier pillows sometimes create,” says No Sleepless Nights.
Select adds, “It’s fully machine washable and features a strap that can be hooked to your luggage or hung up in your car. The pillow comes in multiple colors, including Purple, Pink and Navy, and you can choose between various sizes ranging from Kids Small to Extra Large. It has a 4.3-star average rating from over 21,000 reviews.”
- The Strategist
- Buy Side from WSJ
- CNN Underscored
- Condé Nast Traveller
- Mattress Clarity
- Travel + Leisure
- No Sleepless Nights
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.