The best travel pillow

Peter McPherson

Travel pillows come in a variety of designs beyond the classic U-shaped pillow. Some unique designs may even be trademarked by a company.

Long trips on planes, trains, or buses can be uncomfortable, especially when it comes to sleeping. A travel pillow can make a major difference by allowing you to rest comfortably even while sitting up. Travel pillows vary in their design, materials, and filling, all of which affect their portability and comfort level. Our top pick by Trtl features a unique neck-brace design with a soft fleece cover. To learn more about the types of travel pillows available, continue reading our buying guide.

Considerations when choosing travel pillows

Travel pillow styles

The shape and design of a travel pillow determine how easily you can stow it in your carry-on.

U-shaped travel pillows are the most popular design for their support of the back and sides of the neck. While these are comfortable, they leave your chin unsupported, allowing your head to droop as you sleep.
Wrap-around travel pillows use a similar concept to U-shaped models but include support for the chin.
Rectangular travel pillows are a bit like smaller versions of traditional pillows and are designed to allow you to lean against a wall or window. While finding a place to use these pillows may be difficult, they can be quite comfortable.
Convertible travel pillows may be used as traditional pillows or U-shaped pillows, giving you flexibility in how you sleep.



The outer material of a travel pillow should be soft against your skin, with fleece and cotton among the most popular options. The filling may be made of polyester, microbeads, or memory foam. Memory foam is a popular choice for its ability to mold to the neck and head, but it is more expensive than other options. Polyester hollow fiber is the synthetic filling used in most traditional pillows. Microbeads are inexpensive but can be uncomfortable and make noise as you shift.


Some travel pillows include a carrying case or are designed to fold down to fit easily into your bags. While a small pillow is convenient, it should also be able to fluff back up to its normal size when you need it.

Travel pillow prices

Inexpensive travel pillows range from $10 to $30 and are usually basic in design. For a longer-lasting and more comfortable option, pillows costing up to $60 often have memory foam filling and work well for long journeys.

Travel tips

Getting a bit of sleep while on the go can be tough. Here are a few pointers:

Be sure that your travel pillow doesn't encroach on the space of your neighbors.
When packing your bags, keep your travel pillow in an easy-to-access location.
Sitting at a window seat on a plane gives you control of the light and allows you to lean against the wall.
Recline your chair as much as possible -- just be sure you don't disturb the person behind you or spill any drinks on their tray.
Use sleep to combat jet lag by sleeping just slightly off your normal schedule. This can help you adjust before you arrive at your destination.


Q. Can travel pillows prevent snoring?

A. The best way to prevent snoring is to keep your upper airway open with a neutral neck position. To avoid snoring and disturbing your immediate neighbors, look for a travel pillow with excellent neck support.

Q. How do I wash my travel pillow?

A. Many travel pillows have removable covers or can be thrown in the washer, though this is not always the case. Some pillows may be hand-washable.

Travel pillows we recommend

Best of the best: Trtl Pillow

Our take: This unique neck brace design is ideal for finding comfort in small spaces.

What we like: The supportive design of this wrap pillow makes it well suited to long trips.

What we dislike: While the neck brace is sturdy, it does not support the whole head.

Best bang for your buck: Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow

Our take: If you are looking for a compact traditional-style pillow, this is a comfortable and affordable option.

What we like: While this pillow isn't overly large, it is comfortable and easy to pack in a carry-on.

What we dislike: Some people may find the rectangular design inadequate in terms of support.

Choice 3: BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

Our take: The neck is fully supported by this wrap-around pillow.

What we like: With a variety of sizes and colors available, it's easy to find a style that suits your taste.

What we dislike: It can take some fiddling to get this pillow just right.

Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds

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