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Best Travel Pillows – 2022 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Tuck Staff

Quick Overview

Anyone who has attempted to sleep in a car, on a plane, or while using other modes of transportation can attest to the aches, pains, and pressure points that tend to develop from sleeping in an upright position. For this reason, travel pillows are an indispensable sleep accessory for many road trippers and frequent fliers.

Travel pillows are much smaller than standard pillows. This allows them to be easily scrunched and stuffed between the sleeper’s body and their headrest. They are also very lightweight, making them easy to store and lug between destinations; many are made from plush fabrics or lightweight foams, while others are filled with air that can be deflated for better portability.

In addition to standard rectangular or square-shaped travel pillows, today’s come in U-shaped varieties, as well as more innovative designs. This guide will explore the different types of travel pillows, as well as our picks for the best travel pillows sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Travel Pillows

Best Travel Pillows – Reviewed

Best OverallCoop Sleep Goods Travel and Camping Pillow

Best Overall – Coop Sleep Goods Travel and Camping Pillow


  • Supportive and conforming memory foam
  • Easily compressible
  • Adjustable fill level
  • Stuff sack fastens onto luggage
  • Machine washable
Coop Sleep Goods Travel and Camping Pillows are available to Our readers at the lowest price
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Best OverallCoop Sleep Goods Travel and Camping Pillow

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The Coop Sleep Goods Travel and Camping Pillow is a standout product due to its standout performance in a variety of areas, including comfort, adjustability, durability, breathability, and portability. The pillow comes in a traditional rectangular pillow shape at a smaller, lightweight size. Its shredded memoryfoam fill compresses and conforms in response to pressure, while also providing strong support for the head.

The pillow is highly adjustable as the fill can be added or removed to change its height and feel. Coop’s Travel and Camping Pillows are CertiPUR-US and GREENGUARD Gold certified, meaning that they are made without a number of harmful chemicals.

Although memory foam traditionally retains heat, the pillow sleeps cool thanks to its shredded fill and breathable cover derived from bamboo.

The Travel and Camping Pillow comes with a durable, machine-washable stuff sack that can be attached to bags and luggage. The pillow easily compresses to about half its size in the stuff sack for space saving portability. Lastly, the pillow comes with a 100-night sleep trial period and is backed by a 5-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Head and neck support
  • Side, back, and stomach sleepers
  • Comfort seekers

Best LuxuryTempur-Pedic TravelPillow

Best Luxury – Tempur-Pedic TravelPillow


  • Made from supportive TEMPUR material
  • Horseshoe design
  • Strong balance of cushioning and support
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Removable, washable cover
Tempur-Pedic Travel Pillows are available to Our readers at the lowest price
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Best LuxuryTempur-Pedic TravelPillow

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The Tempur-Pedic TravelPillow is made with highly adaptive, proprietary TEMPUR material. The pillow is built as a single piece of durable TEMPUR material in a horseshoe shape, encased in a removable and washable cover. The horseshoe design helps to keep the neck aligned and take pressure off of the neck and shoulder muscles.

The foam has a comforting feel that helps to support the head and neck in situations that require upright sleeping. Altogether, the pillow excels at providing cushioning and relief to the head and neck. The pillow is relatively small, lightweight, and compresses somewhat for travel.

The Tempur-Pedic TravelPillow ships for free to the contiguous U.S. and comes with a 5-year warranty.

Good for:

  • Upright sleeping
  • Head and neck support
  • Those who like the feel of memory foam

Best ValueTravelRest Curl Memory Foam Pillow

Best Value – TravelRest Curl Memory Foam Pillow


  • Non-inflatable
  • Memory foam interior; microfiber cover
  • U-shape
  • 2-year warranty
  • Adjustable drawstring provides customized fit
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Best ValueTravelRest Curl Memory Foam Pillow

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The TravelRest Curl Memory Foam Pillow is a highly supportive U-shaped pillow padded with a soft, single-piece memory foam interior. This material conforms closely to the sleeper’s neck and shoulders for a personalized fit, but the shape recovers nicely and indentations are unlikely to develop quickly.

The memory foam also alleviates pain and pressure points in the neck, shoulders, and other sensitive areas that may become aggravated during travel. An adjustable drawstring at the front of the pillow allows users to cinch or loosen it for personal customization and better stability.

The TravelRest Curl comes with a removable, machine-washable microfiber cover; the memory foam never needs to be cleaned. The pillow is backed by a two-year warranty; most competing travel pillows do not come with any sort of warranty coverage.

Good for:

  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Those who prefer a personalized fit
  • Sleepers who do not like inflatable travel pillows

Best for Neck PainCabeau Evolution Pillow

Best for Neck Pain – Cabeau Evolution Pillow


  • Non-inflatable
  • Memory foam interior; velour cover
  • U-shape
  • 360-degree neck support
  • Comfortable, ergonomic design
Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillows are available to Our readers at the lowest price
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Best for Neck PainCabeau Evolution Pillow

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Most travel pillows offer a limited amount of neck support. The Cabeau Evolution Pillow is a standout because its thick frame and raised back are designed to support travelers whether they sleep upright with their heads tilted back, forward, or to the left or right sides.

The memory foam interior conforms closely, regardless of the sleeper’s position, to alleviate various aches and pains in the head, neck, and shoulders, while the soft, removable velour cover provides elevated comfort. The Cabeau Evolution Pillow features an adjustable drawstring at the front for added customization and stability.

The pillow is also highly compactable, and can be compressed to roughly 25% of its full size. A carrying case is included with every purchase. All Cabeau Evolution Buyers receive a full money-back guarantee if they are not satisfied.

Good for:

  • All upright sleepers, regardless of how they tilt their head
  • Neck and shoulder pain sufferers
  • Sleepers who do not like inflatable travel pillows

Most Innovative DesignTrtl Pillow

Most Innovative Design – Trtl Pillow


  • Non-inflatable
  • Fleece with built-in neck brace
  • Wrap-style
  • Exceptional cushioning and comfort
  • Optimal design for head tilters
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Most Innovative DesignTrtl Pillow

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One of the most innovative travel pillows available today is the Trtl Pillow, which is made from ultrasoft fleece and equipped with a flexible, built-in neck brace. The pillow is designed to be wrapped around the sleeper’s neck much like a scarf. The ribbed brace can be repositioned in any direction, but is firm enough to provide adequate support – particularly for travelers who tilt their heads to the left or right when they sleep upright.

Portability is another reason why the Trtl is a great alternative to traditional travel pillows. Due to its and extremely light frame (148 grams in all), the Trtl can be easily stowed or attached to the handle of a suitcase or backpack. This pillow is also completely machine washable and does not require spot or dry cleaning.

Good for:

  • Sleepers who tilt their necks to the side
  • Travelers with limited luggage space
  • Those who do not feel comfortable on traditional travel pillows

Buying Guide – How to Shop for a Travel Pillow

Many people rely on travel pillows for support and comfort when sleeping in cars or on planes, trains, and other forms of public transportation. Travel pillows are also popular among campers and backpackers. These pillows are usually compact enough to fit into a standard suitcase or overnight bag.

Most travel pillows are U-shaped models to fit snugly over the sleeper’s shoulders and provide optimal support to the head, neck, and spine, but some models take on different shapes. Today’s travelers can choose from a wide range of inflatable and non-inflating pillow designs. Most are priced between $10 and $40, and are widely available through brick-and-mortar and online sellers and retailers.

This guide will explore the pros and cons of using a travel pillow, some key considerations for shoppers, and our picks for the best inflating and non-inflating models that are currently available for sale. First, let’s look at why you should (or shouldn’t) use a travel pillow when you’re on the road.

Who Should Use a Travel Pillow?

Sleeping and transportation often don’t mix. Seats on airplanes and other modes of transport often feature seats that do not recline much (if at all), minimal legroom, and little to no cushioning for the head and neck. The problem is compounded by travel duration; most people can make do during a two- or three-hour flight, but overseas flights typically span at least eight hours. Combine these discomforts with the realities of jet lag and most travelers disembark feeling strained and achy.

Many airlines and train lines offer pillows to accommodate passengers, but in most cases these pillows are quite thin. This can be problematic because pillow support and comfort is directly tied to loft, or thickness. Sleeper’s should take their head size and shoulder width. Most airline pillows are ‘low-loft,’ meaning they measure three inches thick or less. As the table below shows, low-loft pillows are primarily suitable for people with small heads and narrow shoulders; people with larger dimensions tend to be much less comfortable.

Travel pillows, on the other hand, are usually medium- or high-loft, meaning they measure at least three inches thick. In addition to providing more loft, travel pillows also help passengers adjust to the unnatural sleep position of sitting in a chair that reclines very little, if at all.

When most people sleep in a reclining position (as opposed to sleeping on a horizontal surface), their neck will naturally crane forward as soon as they fall asleep. This often results in them waking up with a neck ache. Sleeping with a travel pillow allows them to lean their head and neck back further, reducing the risk of falling forward when asleep.

The sleep position issue may not be as crucial for campers, who normally sleep in their tents in a horizontal position. However, campers still require certain levels of loft in order to feel comfortable and supported — particularly if they sleep on a pad or sleeping bag that is thinner than their bed at home. For this reason, high-loft pillows are usually most suitable for backpackers, campers, and other recreators who sleep in tents.

Common Travel Pillow Shapes


U-Shapes are the most common shape you’ll find in travel pillows. Many people love this kind of pillow for its simple support. The inflatable U-shape pillows also make for easy deflation and storage while you’re not on the plane. However, other users have complained that this shape doesn’t provide enough neck support, and that some innovation is in order.


The J-shape, which is largely new on the market, attempts to answer for the U-shape’s shortcomings. This type of pillow allows for more versatility and chin support, keeping the head propped up higher than some U-shape pillows. Unfortunately, the shape of this makes it less portable than some of its peers.


The hourglass-shaped travel pillow’s biggest strength is its versatility. While many shapes are made for the head and neck only, this one is like the Swiss Army knife of pillows. Use an hourglass shaped pillow for your head and neck, but also for the back, knees, or even while sleeping in a bed. If you’re looking purely for neck support, however, another shape may be ideal for you.

Wrap Style

A wrap-style travel pillow will wrap around your neck much like a scarf. This design is great for a traveler whose head tilts while they sleep. It’s also ideal for portability: unlike its other clunky counterparts, this is one of the easiest shapes to pack up and stow in a snap. If you’ve liked traditional travel pillows in the past, however, you may not have a need for this one.


Rectangular travel pillows are the closest thing to a pillow you’d use on your bed at night. The biggest difference: they’re more compact and meant for travel spaces. The rectangular pillow may work for you if your neck easily holds itself up while sleeping. These are rarely popular travel pillow options precisely because most people aren’t so fortunate. Overall, it’s usually better to find a travel pillow that will better support your neck.

Inflatable Versus Non-Inflatable Travel Pillows

Many frequent travelers have serious opinions about which option of travel pillow is better: inflatable or non-inflatable. The type that’s best for you depends on a variety of factors you care about. That includes:

  • Overall Comfort: Non-inflatable pillows are made from a wide variety of inner materials, from memory foam to plush latex. For the most part, these materials are inherently more comfortable than air. However, the tradeoff for plush materials is usually portability.
  • Portability: Inflatable travel pillows win hands-down on portability. Deflating them makes it easy to pack up and slip into a carry-on bag or luggage. That said, certain non-inflatable pillow designs, such as the wrap style, make for easier packing than non-inflatable U-shape and J-shape pillows.
  • Loft Customization: Higher loft travel pillows allow you to keep your neck upright. Having an inflatable pillow is advantageous if you’d like to play with a higher or lower loft.

The table below compares inflating and non-inflating travel pillows in terms of design, composition, price, and other factors.

Inflatable Travel Pillows

The majority of travel pillows sold today are U-shaped models designed to rest on the shoulders with both ends facing forward. For added neck support, some of these U-shaped pillows have raised backs with a gentle curve; this ergonomic-minded design can help prevent neck pain and pressure.

Some U-shaped pillows are long enough to be completely wrapped around the neck. This provides 360-degree support, allowing sleepers to crane their neck at the most comfortable angle.

In addition to U-shaped designs, some travel pillows mimic the rectangular shape of bedroom pillows. Other designs include thinner, fabric wraps with a foldable built-in neck brace for a flat resting surface; and long, slender models that can be embraced like body pillows.

Regardless of shape, travel pillows can generally be divided into two categories: inflatable and non-inflatable. First, let’s look at inflatable models. Common characteristics of inflatable designs include the following:

Travel pillows can generally be divided into two categories: inflatable and non-inflatable. First, let’s look at inflatable models. Common characteristics of inflatable designs include the following:

Inflation Method

Some inflatable travel pillows fill up the old-fashioned with: with human oxygen. They feature a tightly sealed air valve that allows users to blow into the pillow until they reach their desired loft. Some newer models feature inflation systems that do not require human oxygen. Instead, the user opens a valve and presses down on a button until the pillow is properly inflated. In either case, the loft is adjustable. However, it’s important to never overinflate a travel pillow; this can cause the pillow to burst at its seams, or otherwise damage its structural integrity.

One notable downside of inflatable pillows is that they will probably deflate to some extent after a few hours of use — especially at high altitudes. Sleepers may be most comfortable by slightly over-inflating before use in order to compensate for the lost air.

Material Composition

Most inflatable pillows feature a shell made from polyurethane-based material, such as polyvinyl, which can be slick and cold to the touch. To provide more resistance and a warmer feel, inflatable pillows often have a cover made of materials like velvet or velour.

These covers also create a more hygienic barrier between the sleeper’s face and the pillow shell, since they are removable and can be machine washed; polyurethane shells should never be laundered.


While all travel pillows are fairly compact by definition, deflated travel pillows take up much less space than non-inflatable models (which cannot be reduced in size). This makes inflatable pillows more suitable for lengthier trips, since they take up less luggage space, as well as backpacking trips. Most inflatable pillows weigh 10 ounces or less.


The average price-point for inflatable travel pillows is lower than that of non-inflating models. Expect to pay between $10 and $20 for a new inflatable pillow.

Non-Inflatable Travel Pillows

Next we’ll discuss non-inflating pillows. Common features of these models include the following:

No Adjustment

Unlike inflating travel pillows, non-inflating models cannot be adjusted in terms of loft due to their solid construction. If possible, sleepers should test out these pillows before purchasing to determine if they meet loft preferences and needs.

Material Composition

Most non-inflating travel pillows sold today are made from memory foam, also known as viscoelastic polyfoam. This material is designed to become softer when it comes into contact with body heat, and then recover its shape once it begins to cool down. Travel pillows are typically made from firmer memory foam that will provide continuous support to the head, neck, and spine; softer foam tends to sink, which can lead to neck pain.

Like inflating pillows, non-inflating pillows made from memory foam often come with removable, washable covers. Non-inflating designs made from other materials (such as polyester or fleece) may not feature a cover, but these materials are usually machine washable. These pillows are usually filled with beads or polyester puffballs, which tend to be less comfortable — and if the pillow develops a tear, these fill materials may escape and compromise the pillow’s overall loft.


Since they are not adjustable, non-inflating pillows tend to have more loft than inflatable ones. The downside to this is that they tend to be bulkier are harder to fit into luggage than inflating models that can be deflated and reduced in size. The material of non-inflating pillows may be scrunched or molded to make more room, but these pillows may not be suitable for travelers who have limited space, such as backpackers and those taking extended trips. On the other hand, non-inflating pillows may be ideal for short trips or car camping.


Non-inflating pillows tend to be the more expensive option — though most are still generally affordable. Shoppers should expect to pay between $10 and $40 for a new non-inflating travel pillow.

The table below compares inflating and non-inflating travel pillows in terms of design, composition, price, and other factors.

Important Considerations for Travel Pillow Shoppers

If you are in the market for a new travel pillow, here are a few factors to keep in mind when comparing different brands and models:

  • How much does the pillow cost? The vast majority of travel pillows are available for sale at $40 or less, but inflatable pillows tend to cost less than non-inflating ones.
  • What is the loft of the pillow? Inflating pillows can be adjusted to achieve proper loft for each sleeper, but even when inflated to capacity these pillows tend to be medium-loft. Non-inflating pillows cannot be adjusted, but they may be medium- or high-loft.
  • How does the pillow inflate? Inflatable pillows may be inflated manually with human oxygen, or fill with air using built-in valves and buttons. Choosing between the two often comes down to personal preference — although placing one’s mouth on the air intake valve is considered somewhat unhygienic, particularly if more than one person uses the pillow.
  • Does the non-inflating pillow consist of one or two pieces? Some non-inflating designs feature a memory foam shell and a washable cover, while others are one-piece designs made of washable material with bead or puffball fill. The majority of travelers seem to prefer the feel of memory foam compared to one-piece designs made of materials like polyester or fleece.
  • Is the pillow or cover machine washable? The vast majority of travel pillows either have a removable, washable cover or are themselves machine washable. This is important for hygiene, as oils and bacteria can accumulate on the pillow’s sleeping surface.
  • How much space does the pillow take up? Non-inflating pillows are fairly compact when they are deflated — but owners should make sure they will not come into contact with sharp objects inside their luggage. Non-inflating pillows can be bulkier and harder to fit into bags.
  • What position do you prefer to sleep in? Those who sleep on their back usually find that U-shaped pillows offer the most comfort and support. However, side-sleepers who are not accustomed to leaning their heads back may find that differently shaped pillows are more comfortable and supportive.
  • Does the pillow include a warranty? In rare cases, travel pillows come with product warranties that may last as long as two years, but most do not come with any sort of warranty. Some pillows that do not include a warranty may provide a money-back guarantee with proof of receipt instead.

Tips for Sleeping Well While Traveling

Getting great sleep during travel time can make a world of difference once you reach your destination. Of course, each type of travel comes with its own challenges. Airplanes are short on humidity, while buses and trains may have lots of disruptive stops. No matter the transportation method, these general tips for will help you sleep better while traveling.

  • Come comfortable: Long gone are the days where you have to dress up for travel. Wear loose clothing that allows for healthy blood flow. Bringing along layers like a sweater or hat will help you stay warm if temperatures fluctuate.
  • Drown out light: Buses, airplanes, and trains are full of light disruptions that may not match with your sleep cycle. Bring a quality sleeping mask that will ward off disturbing lights and allow you to sleep through the duration of the trip.
  • Block noise: Airplane cabins can reach up to 105 decibels in the cabin, and long-term exposure to those noises aren’t great for your ears. You can prevent this problem by wearing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.
  • Stay hydrated: While it’s important for all travelers to stay hydrated, this is especially true for air travelers. Low humidity in a cabin predisposes you to dehydration. Drink water and limit alcoholic drinks to a minimum. Most airports make you dump out water at security, but you can work around this by bringing an empty water bottle and filling it up at the water fountain before you board.
  • Pack healthy snacks: Avoiding high-sodium snacks will keep you hydrated. Instead, opt for foods that will help you sleep better. Snacks such as milk, cheese, nuts, cherries, and bananas are portable and ideal for the job. That’s because they have active ingredients like tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium that signal to your body it’s time to doze off.
  • Position your body well: Try to keep your spine aligned as well as possible while you sleep and let your muscles relax. Make sure not to cross your legs for long periods of time as it may restrict blood flow and result in a “sleepy”, tingly sensation.

More Sleep Accessories for Travelers

In addition to a supportive pillow, the following accessories may come in handy for sleep-deprived travelers.


Headphones are a noise-blocking sleeping staple for many travelers. Additionally, listening to music using headphones at a reasonable volume can help lower one’s heart rate and alleviate stress prior to falling asleep. Headphone styles that are currently sold include on-ear, over-ear, and in-ear (also known as earbud) designs. Standard models are available through most retailers for $30 or less, but shoppers may prefer to spend a little extra for sophisticated headphones that block outside noise more effectively; these models may cost up to $250.

For more information, please visit our Best Headphones for Sleeping guide.


Rather than listening to music, some sleepers prefer to block noise using a pair of earplugs. The majority of earplugs used today are made from compactible, flexible materials like foam, silicone, or wax. These materials offer a snug fit that conforms closely to the unique contours of their ear canal. Shoppers should take note of the Noise Reduction Rating, or NRR, when comparing earplug models; this may range from 20 to 34, and higher ratings are associated with more effective noise-blocking. However, it’s important to note that using earplugs has been linked to certain health problems, including earwax impaction, ear infections, and hearing loss.

To learn more, check out our Best Earplugs for Sleeping guide.

Sleep Masks

Sleep masks are essentially blindfolds that help people sleep in environments where they can’t control light (such as airplanes or other forms of public transportation). By simulating darkness, sleep masks can help facilitate the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that controls one’s natural sleep cycle. Sleep masks are usually made from fabrics such as cotton, silk, and/or polyester, and some also contain foam for extra cushioning. Most sleep masks are available for $20 or less.

Visit our Best Sleep Mask Reviews for more information.

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