Whether it’s for a long-haul flight, an extended road trip or a camping holiday, a great travel pillow will ensure you’re well rested.
Unless you’re treating yourself to first-class travel, it’s not easy to get a good night’s sleep on an airplane or in a car. It can be really difficult to truly relax when surrounded by other passengers, sitting up-right in a plane seat, unable to stretch your legs and with aircon blasting at you.
Enter: the wonderful world of travel pillows. An airplane pillow is a must-have for even attempting to sleep mid-flight, but it’s important to find the best travel pillow for you. You need it to provide reinforcements to the required area, be compact, versatile, comfy and lightweight.
Nowadays, there are so many travel pillow options on the market that it can be tricky to know which one to choose. There are travel neck support pillows, lumbar pillows, inflatable travel pillows, memory foam travel pillows, and even airplane cushions for your entire head!
To help you decide which one will help you get comfy and fall asleep, we’ve compiled a list of tried-and-tested travel neck pillows and airplane cushions. For the ultimate on-the-go comfort, here are our top picks of the very best travel pillows in 2022.
What to Look for in the Best Travel Pillow
When shopping for the best travel pillows and cushions, there are a number of essential factors that you need to consider. You need your flight neck pillow to be super supportive and comfortable, while being lightweight and portable. So, here’s what to look for when choosing the best travel neck pillow for you and your in-flight needs:
The Shape of Your Travel Pillow
The first thing to consider when searching for the best travel pillows is shape. There are a range of different shaped airplane neck pillows out there, all with different functions and benefits. Not everyone sleeps in the same position or has the same support concerns, so different flight pillow styles come in handy for different people. For example:
- U-Shaped Travel Pillows: these go around the neck and are designed to prevent lateral bending. These are the best travel pillows for those who want to prevent bending to the side while sleeping.
- Flat Travel Pillows: these are better for leaning up against a window, on a tray table, on a neighbour’s shoulder, or, most effectively, as lumbar support. This shaped airplane pillow should push out to support the curve in your lower back. These are the best travel pillows for people who have a history of lower back pain.
The Fill of Your Flight Pillow
Within this list of the best travel pillows, you’ll find those made with memory foam, filled with beads, or just air if it’s an inflatable travel pillow. In general, memory foam tends to be the most accommodating when it comes to travel. Memory foam travel pillows tend to provide optimum support without letting you sink into it too much. Some travel neck pillows, such as bead-filled ones, can be too soft and will allow your head to drop forward too far.
The Thickness of Your Travel Cushion
Thickness is perhaps the most important factor to consider when it comes to airplane neck pillows. Too flat and it won’t offer you enough support, too thick and it could end up pushing your head into an uncomfortable position.
Ideally, the sides of your travel neck pillow should come up to the height of your earlobes to minimise lateral bending. Meanwhile, the back of the neck support should be flat or only as thick as the distance between the back of your neck and the back of your head (about two inches).
How Portable is Your Travel Pillow?
Before purchasing a flight pillow, you should check that it’s compact and easy to carry. When travelling, especially on a long-haul flight, it’s likely that you already have too much to carry – so you don’t want to add a bulky travel pillow to your already-hefty load. Usually, the most packable options are inflatable travel pillows. When deflated, inflatable neck pillows can be pretty compact and can be stored anywhere. Simply inflate your travel pillow when you get on the plane and deflate again just before you get off. Others, such as memory foam travel pillows or those filled with cotton are a little trickier to transport.
The Best Travel Pillows UK
The best travel pillow for: memory foam
This U-shaped travel neck pillow for Cabeau has a thick padding of memory foam to provide the firmest support for your neck and head. The back of the beck squares off a bit, making it ideal for keeping your neck in line with the back of the seat. This airplane pillow also has a strap that attaches to the back of the headrest to help you stay perfectly up-right. While the Cabeau flight pillow will take up a little more room than some of the other options on this list, it is still fairly easy to carry. It comes with a bag that compresses it to half its original size, while the bag’s strap enables you to fasten it to the handle of your hand-luggage.
The best travel pillow for: something different
Some love it, some hate it – but there is no denying that the Trtl neck travel pillow offers something unique in the world of airplane cushions and supports. The pillow is designed around a long scarf with a soft, height-adjustable support panel for you to rest your head against. It’s really effective at stopping your head from flopping forwards when you’re dozing off thanks to its strengthened inner rib that contours to any neck, jaw or shoulder shape. Perhaps the best thing about this travel pillow, though, is that it is endlessly customisable, making it one of the best travel pillows for taller or shorter people who don’t fit a standard neck pillow.
The best travel pillow for: sleeping anywhere
The Huzi Infinity travel pillow will help you fall asleep wherever you are in the world. On a bumpy bus ride? A turbulent flight? A dull car journey? Waiting in a queue? Don’t worry – this travel neck pillow has you covered for all events. A long-stuffed loop of soft bamboo, you can loop the Infinity flight pillow around your neck like a huge scarf to give your head support. It’s ideal for long flights with layovers, where you can use it like a normal pillow if you find a bench to sleep on, or wrap it over your eyes to act as an eye mask. This is one of the best versatile travel pillows, being able to transform and configure it in any way you like to accommodate any preferred sleeping position. However, while it’s super lightweight, this airplane pillow is a little bulky to pack in your carry-on.
The best travel pillow for: inflating
The AirComfy Ease inflatable travel pillow is one of the best for portability. It inflates and deflates so easily that you can simply slip it in and out of your hand-luggage and get comfortable in under a minute. Also incredibly supportive, this airplane cushion complex with a strap that you can secure to a headrest (a feature that’s better for road trips than long flights). It is designed to provide support for either your lumbar region or your neck. Just inflate it to the firmness you prefer for use and pack it back into its pouch when you’ve landed at your destination.
The best travel pillow for: people who get too hot
If you’re one of those people who feel like they’re overheating when sitting on a stuffy plane for hours, this airplane neck pillow will solve all your problems. The sporty design of this cooling travel pillow pairs firm memory foam with cooling air circulation vents and sweat-wicking fabric to provide optimum comfort and temperature. There’s nothing worse than getting a sweat on while on a long-haul flight – and this happens all too often when the tiny air conditioning vents above you aren’t in working order. Well, lucky for you, this innovative flight pillow kills two birds with one stone so you can be properly supported and cooled at the same time. It’s also quite a bit slimmer than some other neck pillows available, making it surprisingly easy to pack.
The best travel pillow for: travelling light
This ergonomic airplane cushion is the best lightweight travel pillow that you won’t even notice you’re carrying. The soft-touch, knit-feel cover of this inflatable travel pillow means that it feels comfortable and smooth against your skin as you snooze. Extremely light and packable thanks to its air-filled design, the Vango travel cushion is ideal for stowing away in the top pocket of your backpack or in the front section of your suitcase.
The best travel pillow for: the middle seat
This traditional C-shaped travel pillow features a flat back that is angled to perfectly rest against a seat head. Crafted from soft, moulded memory foam, this airplane cushion supports and compresses in all the right places. This travel pillow is best for being placed behind the head, flat against the headrest, making it ideal for those who are unfortunate enough to be squished into the middle seat on a flight. Best of all, the Nest memory foam travel neck pillow packs down well to fit in the side pocket of a backpack. There is also a velcro fastening, but this isn’t the most secure.
The best travel pillow for: bead filling
This Muji flight pillow is filled with polystyrene beads – the same stuff they put in bean bag chairs. It’s not as firm as some of the other options on this list, such as the memory foam travel pillows, which might be more appealing for those who want to sink a bit deeper into their cushion. It might look like a simple option, but it really does offer the support you need. Covered with super soft jersey-like material, this airplane pillow feels smooth against your skin. It also features a clip that makes it somewhat adjustable and can also be used to secure it to a bag.