The neck is up there as one of the most vulnerable parts of the body when it comes to pressure buildup, and spending extended periods can create some of the most stressful situations for your cervix.
Enters the travel pillow.
We all know what it’s like to doze off in transit only to wake up hours later with a biting neck cramp. Travel pillows aim to solve this problem by providing portable support for your head and neck on all your journey.
Tip: Neck braces can provide comparable levels of support to even the best travel pillows, albeit with a significantly less aesthetic profile.
Whether you are on a road trip across the country, or a full-day intercontinental flight, neck pillows can provide the much-needed respite that keeps your neck comfy through multiple sleep-wake cycles.
The good news is that there is an abundance of options available for the choosing. However, the bad news is that it is equally as hard to find one that offers ideal levels of comfort and support without coming off as too goofy.
Hence, we bring you some of the best portable travel pillows you can buy that delivers a perfect balance of ergonomics and relative discreteness.
7 Best Travel Pillow in 2021 We Recommend: Detailed Reviews
1. Best Overall: Trtl Pillow Plus
Trtl is arguably the premier brand name in the travel pillow space, and the Trtl Pillow Plus, their most premium offering, is one of the best options out there.
One of the most significant selling points of Trtl neck pillows is their relatively discrete build, and the Plus stays true to this design language. Here, you get a neck pillow that strays from the traditional bulky form factor we have come to expect from neck pillows and opts instead for a design that mimics a wrap scarf.
WIth the Trtl Pillow Plus, the structure features a mostly fabric build, with a concealed inner rib that contours to your neck and brings all the support. Plus, this neck pillow also packs a breathable mesh fabric that runs along the entire length of the pad, providing increased airflow and keeping your neck fresh through your longest flight.
The Trtl Pillow Plus, like other Trtl pillows, lets you wear the pad from either side or from the front of your neck to match your preferred sleeping position. Plus, with the Pillow Plus, unlike with the entry-level option, you also get the ability to adjust the internal support layer.
This mix of ultra-soft microfleece exterior, downy foam padding, and supporting yet breathable frame, places the Trtl Pillow Plus as the one neck pillow to rule them all and a hard option to pass over.
Plus, this pillow’s construction also makes it significantly smaller than your regular neck pillow—a decisive factor to consider amidst ever-tightening weight restrictions with air travel.
However, the Trtl Pillow Plus retails for a considerable premium over your standard neck pillow, but there are no surprises there.
- Fully adjustable travel pillow
- Superior comfort and support
- Breathable mesh inserts for enhanced temperature regulation
- Compact and lightweight design
- Free, water-resistant bag included
2. Best Discreet Option: Trtl Pillow
If you want a neck pillow, yet want to avoid the goofy look that many accessories in this category bring, the original Trtl Pillow is your best bet. When it comes to being discreet, this pillow even bests the more premium Trtl Pillow Plus.
Like the Plus, The Trtl Pillow is a wrap scarf that packs a hidden inner rib for support. This supporting frame is a flexible plastic structure that you can compress or ease while adjusting the velcro strap that holds the neck pillow in place.
The frame is also removable, which lets you machine wash the fabric part of the pillow.
However, finding the perfect position with the Trtl may take a few tries, as the velcro strap is the only possible form of adjustment. Nevertheless, here, you get a velcro strip with an extended connection point that lets you adjust the fit or use the brace in different positions.
Furthermore, a big selling point with this neck pillow is that, at only 9 ounces, this is one of the lightest options on the market.
- Discreet neck scarf design
- Super lightweight
- Machine washable
- Accommodates several sleeping positions
3. Best Airflow: Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow
Wrapping a pillow around your neck is a recipe for overheating with most market options, but not with the Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow.
This gamer-themed neck pillow comes fitted with vents striding its perimeter that maximizes airflow and ensures your neck stays cool over extended periods. Plus, the entire structure features moisture-wicking fabrics that complement the air vents for a truly cooling experience.
However, despite its heavy focus on temperature regulation, the Cabeau Evolution does not skimp support either.
The sporty neck pillow packs memory foam inserts that provide a thick, fleecy cushion around your need, bringing all the support and comfort you need on your longest flights.
- Intense airflow with air vents and moisture-wicking fabric
- Eye-catching sporty design
- Conforming memory foam
4. Best Intense Support: Briggs & Riley Foldable Pillow
The fact that you are traveling does not mean you have to skimp on getting the support you need. With the Briggs & Riley Foldable Pillow, you get the closest thing to bringing your fluffy bedroom pillow along for the ride.
The Briggs pillow is a thick, super supportive pillow made from contouring memory foam, so it hugs your frame, providing a personalized fit and the right amount of support.
Plus, this pillow also sports a unique shape that tapers at the rear, providing ample support for your head as it slopes backward while you sleep.
The Briggs & Riley Foldable Pillow also comes complete with an adjustable front closure that further lets you customize the fit while ensuring that the pillow holds your neck and head securely for the entire trip.
This pillow packs some of the best support you will find on any portable pad, but, even more, it manages to do that without detracting from its portability. The Briggs & Riley Foldable Pillow rolls into a significantly smaller form factor that fits into the handy free carry pouch that comes included in the package.
- Intense 360° support thanks to conforming supportive memory foam
- Adjustable front closure
- Portable storage
- High-end ergonomics
5. Best For Front Sleepers: Sleepy Cloud Travel Pillow
Most travel pillows come equipped to handle sleeping with your head to the side or back, and with these setups comes the risk of a severe postural problem.
Sleeping while sitting down is a reasonably unnatural sleeping position, but having your head hanging to the side or back can further compound things, creating enormous stress points and potentially causing joint issues.
Here, you also get a hole for your face up top, as well as massive air vents on both sides that gets you all the airflow you need while concealing your face—bonus points for privacy.
The Sleepy Cloud Travel Pillow brings a unique form factor that offers a healthy alternative. This supporting pillow holds your head in a forward position, a significantly more natural posture.
With this pillow, you get a massive cushy frame that supports your entire upper body, allowing for a more ergonomic resting position, and guaranteeing relaxing, deep sleep anywhere, anytime.
However, since the Sleepy Cloud Travel Pillow is inflatable, it is also quite portable, as you can quickly deflate it and pack it in a compact travel bag.
- Supports ergonomic front sleeping position
- Full upper body support
- Massive air vents
- Inflatable and portable
- Transforms into a flat cushion for alternative use
6. Immersive Experience: GoSleep Eye Mask and Memory Foam Pillow Travel Kit
Sometimes, you just want to shut the world out and wake when you arrive on the other side of the planet. On those lengthy flights where so much cabin activity is bound to disrupt your planned rest, no travel pillow does the job better than the GoSleep Eye Mask and Pillow kit.
Here, you get a combo pack that includes a comfy memory foam pillow that wraps around your neck and supports your head from the back and an eye mask that blocks out the light and completes the immersive experience.
Plus, with this neck pillow set, you get a unique system that differs significantly from your traditional option.
Here, you get a small-size regular pillow that sits behind your head, propping your head. Then, the adjustable cord that comes with the eye mask makes the setup as it attaches to the back of the headrest, creating a 360° unit. Once you have everything in place, you can then tighten the strap with side toggles until you get the perfect amount of support.
While this design is genius when it comes to maximizing comfort, one major pitfall is that you can only use this with seats that do not have a screen component behind them. Hence, if you fly certain airlines like Delta or JetBlue, you can only use this unit with a vacant seat behind you.
Nevertheless, if this pillow works with your travel preferences, you will be getting one of the most immersive and comfy experiences out there.
- Eye mask and neck pillow
- Lightweight and compressible crushed memory foam
- Supports a natural upright position
7. Best For Kids: BCozzy Kids Chin-supporting Travel Pillow
While travel pillows include some form of adjustability, few can conform well enough to match the needs of a kid.
Hence, a dedicated child-size neck pillow like the BCozzy pillow offers one of the best ways to guarantee a comparable level of comfort for your kid as you get as an adult with regular-sized travel pillows.
This comfortable little pillow brings an intense level of support to your young children as it wraps directly under the chin, ensuring neck stability and preventing any head-bopping, whether on car rides, train trips, or air travel.
Plus, it also doesn’t hurt that the BCozzy kids’ pillow packs an eye-catching design and sports an extremely lightweight profile.
The BCozzy Kids Chin-supporting Travel Pillow is suitable for children aged 3 to 8 years old.
- Suitable for kids
- Eye-catching design
- Soft and flexible
Find a Good Travel Pillow: More FAQs
Other Products You Can Also Consider
The travel pillow market is one of those where options are abundant, with manufacturers fighting vehemently to outdo each other with differing designs, extra features, and addon gimmicks.
So, while we picked 7 of the best options you can get, during research, we found boatloads of other travel pillows that are worth a second look.
If you are opting for the traditional U-shaped pillow, you are better going big, and that is precisely what the Daisy Travel Pillow is. Here, you get a bumper foam pillow that packs an extremely plushy build that cradles your head from all sides.
Whether you are in aisle, middle, or window seats, and irrespective of the direction you tilt your head in, this packs enough support for everyone.
However, the Daisy Travel Pillow is no space saver, and it does not try to be one.
- Extra cushioning
- Works with all positions
Most travel pillows feature designs that work best in specific positions, and here, the Huzi Design Infinity Pillow changes the game. This pillow sports a Möbius shape form factor that allows you to exert a full range of customizability to match any sleeping position.
Irrespective of your seating position or sleeping style, with some trial and error, you can always find a shape with this pillow that works for you.
Plus, the Huzi Design Infinity Pillow features a bamboo fabric that is easy to clean and machine-washable and brings hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial properties.
- Full shape customization
Like the Go Sleep pillow, the AirComfy Ease Pillow ships with an elastic band that attaches to the headrest to support your head and neck in an upright position. Consequently, this pillow offers some of the best levels of lumbar and neck support.
Plus, the AirComfy Ease Pillow is an inflatable pillow that deflates and packs into a tiny pouch that is excellent for people with extreme luggage space concerns.
- Secure attachment
- Excellent spinal alignment
- Inflatable, space-saving pillow
Sometimes, with travel pillows, discreteness can often be a disadvantage as you often miss out on getting as much support as you need for maximum comfort. However, with the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow, you don’t have those concerns.
What this pillow lacks in discreteness, it more than makes up for with the intense comfort levels it provides. Here, you get a long L-shaped inflated cushion that plies itself to several different sleeping styles.
Plus, despite its massive profile while in use, the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow deflates to a tiny size that is super portable.
- Works with several sleeping positions
- Supreme comfort
If your goal is to block out the world on crazy long trips, one of the best picks you can get is the Aeris Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow Kit.
Here, you get a super comfy memory foam pillow that guarantees extreme relaxation as well as an eye mask, and a pair of earplugs that immediately detaches you from the surrounding environment, and recreate your bedroom on the fly.
Plus, with its memory foam construction and soft velour cover, the Aeris Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow is up there with the best in terms of comfort. Plus, the pillow is easy to clean as the cover is removable and machine-washable.
- Complete sleep set with pillow, eye masks, and earplugs
- Removable cover
- Decent pricing
If you want a more traditional pillow option that can double as a makeshift pillow on camping trips, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is the one for you. This ultra-portable pillow utilizes a urethane foam filling that lets it fold to a fifth of its standard size during transportation.
Hence, with this pillow, you always have the option of a full-size pad or a smaller travel option. Once you unroll the cushion, the Therm-a-Rest pillow fills out in a few minutes, and you get a standard pillow for non-vertical sleep.
Plus, the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow ships with a comfy brushed polyester cover made from 60% recycled polyester.
- Compressible pillow
- Expands to standard size
- Environmental-friendly construction
When it comes to versatility, few travel pillows can compare to the Tumi Pax, a neck pillow that doubles as a puffer jacket.
With this product, you get a full-on puffer jacket that is both wind and water-resistant, and that packs quilted duck down insulation to keep you warm during cold weather. However, that to a genius patent-pending design, the jacket also rolls into a hidden pouch in its collar to become a comfortable neck pillow.
While the Tumi Pax Puffer Jacket makes for excellent travel accessories, it is also an excellent choice for everyday commuting or outdoor activities. If you pride yourself as a thorough-bred space saver, this jacket/travel pillow combo will be right up your alley.
The Tumi Pax Puffer Jacket comes in both male and female options and is available in size options from L to XXL.
- Versatile jacket/pillow combo
- High-end construction