travel pillow


Travel Pillow Reviews You Can Sleep On!

Neck pain has become such a constant complaint in our society, top-tier institutions like Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic have instituted dedicated departments to diagnose and treat it. In fact, neck pain is the 4th leading reason folks file for disability in the U.S., says Anne Asher, CPT, writing for VeryWell.com. Neck pain is caused by injury, trauma, aging or a combination. That’s why this industry has grown so expansive over the past 15 years and you don't even have to travel to find one of these useful in a variety of situations. But it's on an airplane that these pillows are most beneficial, especially on long trips.

Our Top Travel Pillow Picks:


Why Use Neck Pillows for Travel?

  1. Many pillows are inflatable so it takes just seconds to blow one up or deflate it.
  2. You can tote one in your carry-on or purse without having to remove other items.
  3. Keep your head, neck and spine aligned whether you sleep, read or study the clouds.
  4. Travel pillows can help you avoid the Chatty Cathy or Charles sitting next to you.
  5. Today’s pillows wash, dry and are sometimes vented to help circulate air.
  6. Avoid creepy airline pillows; who knows when they were last washed?
  7. You’ll get better rest using a travel pillow than you would without one.
  8. Don’t risk the embarrassment of having your head land on on stranger’s shoulder!

The Wave of the Future

British flight attendant Gemma Jensen was surprised when her Virgin Atlantic big boss, Richard Branson, popped up to congratulate her on having won “British Invention of the Year” honors for her best neck pillows for travel invention in 2012.

The seasoned flight attendant knew a thing or two about in-flight comfort and her design didn't mimick the traditional U-shaped pillow. Hers looks like a 3-dimensional version of the letter J instead. Endorsed by U.K. medical professionals who found it superior to other chin support pillows, Jensen’s invention established a trend for pillows that don't follow the standard U-shaped model.

Not to be outdone by the Brits, Virginia doctor Ravi Shamaiengar invented Nap Anywhere, a thin foam disk that cradles the neck and hugs the shoulders. His idea won a 2014 Product Innovation Award and it’s sold on the doctor’s dedicated website. Who knows what the next generation of pillows will look like?

travel pillow

8 Factors to consider when shopping for pillows

  1. Are you allergic to any materials? If yes, eliminate any pillow on the market that could cause a reaction. Don’t limit your query to pillow fillings; slipcovers may also bother you, so look for 100-percent cotton.
  2. Do you mind inflating your pillow? The folks at Little Cloud Nine assume that every traveler is willing and able to inflate a pillow, but suppose you have respiratory limitations or you’re concerned about air leakage?
  3. Is your idea of comfort a solid pillow or not so much? You’re in luck. It’s getting easier to find pillows filled with materials like buckwheat, beads, shred, ground coconut hulls, bamboo and even ground coffee beans.
  4. Does your neck require extra support? Do you suffer habitual neck pain because you hold your head in the same position for hours on end (e.g., working at the computer, knitting or reading)? Like regular bed pillows, travel models in many thicknesses and some are more therapeutic than others.
  5. Is shape important to you? That traditional U-shaped pillow may be all you need to get you from place to place, but as you can see from the aforementioned descriptions of new pillows, you may find another shape to be more compelling.
  6. Do you leave with so much carry-on, a pillow could break the camel’s back? If you often refer to yourself as a Sherpa, that inflatable pillow concept has your name written all over it because it won’t take up room in your purse, add to your bag’s weight and you might even be able to stuff it into a coat pocket.
  7. Do you insist on innovation? Discriminating travelers may already have been there and done that in terms of auditioning U- and J-shaped pillows. Perhaps you seek a novel new shape. If this describes you, keep tabs on the travel accessory market to see what's on the horizon.
  8. Do you prefer a self-contained, filled pillow requiring no slipcover? Lots of travelers prefer a washable pillow cover or luxe materials like velvet or silk that could require dry cleaning.

The Products

1. Cenry Memory Foam Pillow

You don’t have to take Cenry at its word when it says this pillow is designed for airplanes because it works as well in a car, bus or train. This pillow’s cover is made of high-quality, soft velour and it surrounds a solid core of memory foam to support the neck, chin and head thanks to a higher, thicker side that improves on the original travel neck pillow design.

That velour covering is sturdy yet flexible. You can remove and wash it without worrying about shrinkage to vanquish soil or bacteria in a sudsy bath. This pillow becomes its own carry bag: expand the hood located at the back of the pillow, tuck the wings in and pull the velour over them to create a package that resembles a pumpkin. The soft bundle fits into tight places so finding room in your carry-on bag is easy.

Cenry Memory Foam Pillow

Pros

  • Washable cover keeps your pillow sanitary, no matter how many trips you take.
  • The signature, contoured “U” provides extra support to the neck.
  • Visco-elastic memory foam never loses its shape nor will it break down over time.

Cons

  • Not every traveler likes the idea of memory foam at home or on the go.
  • You’ll pay more for the blue version.
  • Could be a bit too flexible for folks with neck issues.

2. Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow

If you’re looking for a memory foam pillow that has won awards from the travel industry, the Evolution Pillow should be on your holiday wish list. If microbeads, down and/or inflatable pillows have let you down in myriad ways, this could be the travel aid you’ve waited for.

Rest comfortably in any environment without suffering stiff neck and shoulder aches that result from assuming awkward positions when you’re stuffed into a tourist cabin seat. The flattened rear cushion back contours to the seat so you can move your head in any direction. You may even stay healthier no matter how many flights you log because the removable cover can be tossed into a washing machine. Repack your pillow into the matching, compact storage bag and toss it into your overnight bag or backpack and you’re ready to fly comfortably.

Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow

Pros

  • The high-quality velour pillow cover can be washed to repel bacteria and germs.
  • The Evolution’s contour and flattened back gives the neck and back extra support.
  • If you don’t like the way it performs, you can get a money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • This pillow costs twice as much as the aforementioned Cenry.
  • Not a good choice for people who dislike memory foam support.
  • Shoppers returning this pillow to the manufacturer complain it's uncomfortable to use.

3. Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow

Luxe travel is trending, so if you must subject yourself to the discomfort of airplane, train or bus seats, why not do so in style? This version of the Cabeau Evolution pillow delivers a long list of features and benefits that begin with Cabeau’s contoured design to cradle the head in dual-density memory foam, no matter where your head roams.

But it’s the breathability of this Evolution pillow that separates it from the herd: the Cabeau cooling system is composed of clever mesh panels that breathe so if you sweat a lot and find pillows hot and uncomfortable, this one could be your salvation. Fold this memory foam pillow down to half its size and tuck it into the compact travel case. Wash the cover to refresh and de-germ it after every trip. The company offers a money-back guarantee when you buy this ventilated pillow and you also get ear buds to help you ignore a chatty seat companion.

Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow

Pros

  • If you perspire profusely, this Cabeau deserves your attention.
  • The clever carry case shrinks down so nicely, you could tuck it in a handbag.
  • In this age of super germs, having a pillow cover that washes is a big plus.

Cons

  • Extremely expensive, be prepared to spend three times the amount of the Cenry pillow.
  • Returns for lack of support are reported by travelers.
  • The company has also received complaints about the magnetic connector malfunctioning.

4. Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Neck Pillow

For about the same price as the Cenry pillow profiled above, you can get almost the same benefits and features with this Everlasting Comfort pillow, but this is the only pillow that comes with assurances that your health could be improved if you choose this one over other brands. The foam used to make this pillow contains no additives. The plush velour cover zips and unzips so you can toss it into the washer when it needs a refresh.

The proprietary U-shape design features an “ergonomic raised lobe design” to beef up neck support so you can nap comfortably on long flights. The extras you receive with this travel aid may delight you: in addition to a cell phone pocket, you get earplugs with a noise reduction rating of 33, padded eye mask and carry case so shutting out the world is easy to do. This entire set is so affordable, this Everlasting Comfort pillow makes a terrific gift for fellow travelers or just for yourself.

Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Neck Pillow

Pros

  • Comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
  • Affordably priced and comes with many extras.
  • Washable and environmentally-friendly materials can help you stay healthy on the go.

Cons

  • May be too big for your neck, which can add to your discomfort.
  • Consumers have not always received the extras the manufacturer promises.
  • Fabric and seam tears have been reported.

5. Travelrest Ultimate Pillow

Promises, promises—the travel pillow industry offers no shortages of them and this Travelrest pillow is no exception. Claiming to provide “full lateral support” to the upper body, this expansive coverage is said to help travelers fall asleep and stay asleep longer—especially folks who are side sleepers at home. The pillow silhouette is designed to promote head and neck alignment, particularly for chronic pain sufferers whose travel adds to their misery.

Blow this pillow up with a couple of breaths and deflate it in seconds, so when rolled, it takes up so little room in a suitcase or purse, you could have problems locating it. Position the Travelrest across your torso or down your side like a cross-body messenger bag or you can literally tether it to your seat using loops to secure it in place. It weighs 7 ounces and comes with an instructional video. The optional velour cover is sold separately.

Travelrest Ultimate Pillow

Pros

  • The unique design works for travelers whose previous experiences haven’t been positive.
  • The manufacturer’s video and instruction sheet helps pillow owners learn all about their purchase.
  • Adjustable, washable and so lightweight, even kids can use this pillow.

Cons

  • You must purchase the velour cover separately.
  • International travelers say that this pillow is uncomfortable and cumbersome.
  • Lack of a defined headrest could leave your neck in worse shape than it was before.

6. Cloudz Microbeads Pillow

If you’re nostalgic for the original travel pillow that started the phenomenon, the Cloudz Microbeads neck pillow can get you where you’re going for less than the price of a couple of cups of Starbucks coffee. Cloudz has been making this pillow for 15 years and sales substantiate the fact that sticking to a known brand can keep a traveler happy and comfortable. There’s no memory foam inside the slipcover so that rigid feel is absent and instead, your head sinks into microbeads that cushion the head and neck while helping you adjust to a comfortable resting position.

That stated, if you’ve heard that fill like microbeads will drive you crazy because they “crunch,” that’s just rumor circulated by other travel pillows who are jealous! The exterior cover offers travelers dual comfort because one side is plush while the other is a spandex covering that feels cooler, so it’s like having two pillow surfaces from which to choose. The snap enclosure makes it a breeze to secure it around your neck. This pillow masquerades as a lumbar support, so position it in various ways.

Cloudz Microbeads Pillow

Pros

  • Inexpensive and versatile, this pillow defines simplicity and acts as a lumbar support.
  • If memory foam is uncomfortable, trying microbeads could improve your travel big time.
  • Flip this pillow from the spandex to the velour side.

Cons

  • Not everyone finds microbeads comfortable.
  • You may require more neck support than this pillow delivers.
  • If seams are compromised, the beads could fall out.

7. Dream Sleeper Inflatable Pillow

The Dream Sleeper inflatable travel neck pillow is both affordable and hypoallergenic, so if these are your primary criteria when shopping for a product, your search may begin and end right here. Covered with a velvet fabric, this pillow takes only three breaths to completely inflate so if you have respiratory issues and want to enjoy the pleasures inflatable pillows offer, this checks off that box, too.

The handy cell phone pocket stows all types of devices so you can nod off and then be awakened by your ring tone located close to your ear. Alternately, enjoy listening to your playlist. Once deflated, the Dream Sleeper rolls up and snaps closed so it consumes very little space no matter where you stow it and you don’t have to worry about losing it because the company will replace it for free courtesy of the warranty you receive requiring only the payment of shipping and handling to get a replacement.

Dream Sleeper Inflatable Pillow

Pros

  • If you tend to lose things, the free replacement offer could be irresistible.
  • A boon to folks to who suffer allergies exacerbated by airplane air.
  • Only requires 3 breaths to go from flat to inflated.

Cons

  • The size is more suited to a child or small person once it’s inflated
  • Valve could break down leading to air leaks when you can least afford them.
  • There are no color choices, so you’d better love gray.

8. BCOZZY Chin Supporting Pillow

Imagine yourself encountering a boa constrictor on your travels—one that wraps around your throat. If you can picture it, you’ve figured out the idea behind the BCOZZY, a novel and inspired pillow that costs around the same amount of money as the TravelRest and promises many of the same features and benefits. Super support for the neck, chin and head. Soft cover. Only, this clever pillow literally coils around your throat so it fits perfectly, whether your neck is skinny or beefy.

Twist it into a variety of positions when you fly or ride and it will always hug your neck as you nod off or just relax. BCOZZY recommends this product for kids because it’s so adjustable. Ditto the adult experience. Fully machine washable, lightweight and featuring a Snap Strap that secures to a carry-on, purse or backpack—or stuff it into the bag if you prefer.

BCOZZY Chin Supporting Pillow

Pros

  • Comes in 17 solid or two-tone color choices.
  • The ideal pillow for those who haven't found happiness with standard U-shaped models.
  • The Snap Strap is tenacious so losing this pillow is nearly impossible.

Cons

  • May not prevent chin drop or head flopping.
  • You’ll spend twice as much as you would on a Cloudz Microbeads pillow.
  • Seam rips have been reported to the manufacturer.

Conclusion: The Winner Is…

To blow or not to blow, that is the question. While packing an inflatable pillow will free up room in your purse or carry-on bag, you may not wish to take a chance on a bladder rupture or a valve leak, so while the Dream Sleeper gets points for hypo-allergenic materials and the Travelrest features a clever design, it’s the lift you’re looking for, not a flat pancake.

Both Cabeau pillow products have generated customer comfort complaints and if you’re going to spend two or three times the amount of cash on pillows compared to others, you’re entitled to comfort, right? Pillows that come with gimmicks concern us. Noise-cancelling ear buds and sleep masks bundled with pillows make us wish the manufacturer focused more on product engineering than extras, so we took the Everlasting pillow off our short list. Further, Everlasting insists travelers enjoy “full lateral support” in the upper-body area, but folks returning this pillow say it does nothing of the kind.

The BCOZZY pillow’s reputation doesn’t seem to match the buyer’s experience and you’ll pay a high price to find out if this experimental design has merit. That stated, we like everything about the Cenry memory foam pillow, from price to performance, so if you’re convinced that memory foam will get you to your destination having gotten plenty of Z's, consider this one our "honorable mention."

At the top of our lists is the Cloudz microbeads original, which gets several thumbs up from our crew. It’s a product pioneer, the filling conforms to the head and neck better than foam, it weighs next to nothing and frankly, we had a hard time finding people who had anything bad to say about this affordable pillow. Sometimes, it really does make sense to stick with an original!