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When you spend a lot of time traveling like we do, it’s important to have an arsenal of supplies. You need to have a travel backpack that holds a laptop and helps save space, for example. And, don’t forget to pick up noise cancelling headphones, a Kindle reader, and a water bottle you can refill once you get through airport security and head to your gate.
Of course, the next item on your list should be a travel pillow — especially if you’re traveling more than a few hours away. This item is crucial if you want to relax in comfort and get some shut-eye while you fly the friendly skies.
Best Travel Pillows for 2021
While there are a lot of travel pillows available today, we think the following six options are the best out there for the average frequent flyer. We created these rankings by purchasing and trying out each and every one of these pillows. We also tried out several travel pillows that did not make this list. That’s how we know these are the best.
- J-Pillow Travel Pillow
- Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow
- Skyrest Inflatable Travel Pillow
- Trtl Pillow
- Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow
- SkySiesta SNUG Travel Pillow
How We Chose the Best Travel Pillows
The problem with travel pillows is that there are so many to choose from — and they’re all so different! Shopping for a travel neck pillow is like choosing a pair of jeans out of a catalog. You have no idea if they’ll fit until you get them home and try them on.
We created this guide to help you discover which travel pillow might be best for you based on your height and how you like to sleep on a plane. The information we include can help you find a neck pillow that is tailored to your body type — and help you avoid wasting money on a pillow you won’t use.
For the purpose of this guide, we considered the following factors:
- Cost: We only reviewed travel pillows that cost $50 or less. Since there are a ton of quality options on the market for less than that, we don’t feel like anyone needs to pay more.
- Availability: We considered travel pillows that can be purchased easily on Amazon.com! We also gave preference to travel pillows that qualify for Amazon Prime.
- Reviews: We considered the overall reviews posted for each travel pillow on this list. If multiple reviewers had the same complaint, we took that into account.
- Portability: We gave preference to travel pillows that can be stored and transported easily.
- Sleeping Position: We considered travel pillows for more than one sleeping position. For example, we looked for pillows that worked for high school sleepers (people who nap on their tray table), upright sleepers, and those who need something to lean on.
Travel Pillow Reviews
#1: J-Pillow Travel Pillow
The J-Pillow snagged the #1 spot on this list because it is my husband’s favorite travel pillow by far. He’s had it forever, and he takes it everywhere!
The J-Pillow Travel Pillow offers support for both your neck and chin while filling the gap between your neck and shoulders. With so much support, you should be able to avoid a cramped neck no matter how long you sleep. This pillow is super soft and it’s also machine washable, which is a huge plus if you’re a germaphobe like we are.
Since the J-Pillow is intended to help you sleep without leaning your neck too far to the side, it’s ideal for people who can sleep upright on planes. However, I’ve used it as a pillow while sitting against the window and leaning against the wall, and I thought it worked well that way, too.
Advantages of the J-Pillow:
- It’s machine washable and small enough to fit into or clip on a backpack.
- The J-Pillow provides support to your neck so you can sleep upright without any strain.
- This pillow is less than $30 on Amazon, and it qualifies for Amazon Prime.
Disadvantages of the J-Pillow:
- The J-Pillow is mostly for people who want to sleep upright, so it may not work for everyone.
- It is not adjustable like some of the other pillows on our list.
- This pillow is pricier than some other good options, so you may want to try something different first.
- People who sleep upright on planes already
- Tall people who need extra neck support
- Anyone who needs a small travel pillow that travels easily
#2: Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow
The Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow is one of my favorites, mostly because you can “twist” it into different shapes. I am shorter than my husband and I tend to pick window seats, so I like having a pillow I can use in a few different ways.
The Twist Memory Foam Pillow is made out of “hard” memory foam that conforms to the shape you want while offering maximum support. Personally, I like twisting it into a straight line and sticking it between my neck and shoulder while wrapping my arms around it. Sometimes I also twist it into a ring shape and use it as a regular pillow so I can lean against the side of the plane. As a final option, I occasionally twist it into a circle and use it to sleep on my tray table. This allows me to lean forward and nap without smashing my face into the plastic. Oh, and it lets me breathe!
The Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow is also machine washable, which is a must.
Advantages of the Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow:
- You can use it in more than one way.
- Shape it how you want to fit your sleeping style.
- This pillow also qualifies for Amazon Prime.
- This pillow has snaps so you can attach it to your carry-on bag or backpack.
Disadvantages of the Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow:
- It may be easy to conform, but it’s not a good fit for people who sleep upright on planes.
- Some of the reviews state the pillow isn’t as flexible as it seems to be.
- You can feel the wire within the pillow in certain positions.
- Short people who like to lean against the window when they sleep
- Anyone who wants a pillow that takes on different shapes
- People who want to spend less than $25
#3: Skyrest Travel Pillow
I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face the first time I pulled this baby out of my bag and blew it up. We were on a long haul flight on the way to Europe and we were wrapping up our dinner. I planned to sleep overnight since we were arriving to our destination at 9:00 a.m., and I was so ready to try the Skyrest pillow out for size.
While this pillow looks huge in photos, it’s the size of a tissue box when not in use. You can store it in a backpack and you don’t have to blow it up until you’re ready. The downside is, you have to blow it up on your plane! That was no big deal to me, but a lot of people will give you the side-eye and wonder what you’re doing.
I personally like this pillow, mostly because I cannot sleep sitting up and need to lean forward or to the side. Also note that, when you’re done using it, you can easily deflate it and store it away.
Advantages of the Skyrest Travel Pillow:
- It allows people to take a nap leaning forward, which helps you avoid straining your neck.
- You can get two of these pillows for less than $25, and they also qualify for Amazon Prime!
- While this pillow is bulky, you can deflate it and store it away when it’s not in use.
Disadvantages of the Skyrest Travel Pillow:
- This pillow is not machine washable, although you could easily bring a pillow case along to keep it clean.
- It can be a hassle to use if you want to sleep off and on. It’s pretty bulky and you have nowhere to put it when you’re not sleeping.
- It might be embarrassing to blow it up while in your seat. Then again, do you care?
- Short people who need to lean forward to sleep.
- Anyone who wants to try a cheap pillow first.
- People who want the feel of a traditional pillow in the air.
#4: Trtl Pillow
The Trtl Pillow is a newer option on the market, and the company that makes it claims that it is “scientifically proven to keep your head in a better position” while you sleep. I don’t know about that, but both my husband and I thought this pillow worked rather well. Like the J-Pillow, the Trtl Pillow lets you sleep upright without having to lean your neck to one side.
Even though the pillow is extremely firm, it has soft cushioning on its exterior for extra comfort. We also like that it’s machine washable — and that it has snaps that let it attach easily to a backpack or carry-on.
Advantages of the Trtl Pillow:
- It provides some serious neck support, which can help you avoid having neck pain when you awake.
- It’s machine washable and it qualifies for Amazon Prime one-day shipping.
- It’s made of firm materials on the interior but it’s soft and cozy on the outside.
Disadvantages of the Trtl Pillow:
- It’s pretty useless as a “pillow” since it doesn’t have a lot of stuffing. This makes it a poor option for people who lean to the side against a wall when they sleep.
- It’s more expensive than most of the pillows on this list.
- The Trtl Pillow is adjustable, but you can really only use it in one way.
- People who sleep upright on a plane.
- Anyone who needs adequate neck support to avoid pain.
- Travelers who need something small and portable.
#5: Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Neck Pillow
At less than $20, the Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Neck Pillow is one of the most inexpensive options on this list. However, we loved this pillow! It manages to be functional and cozy at the same time, and it has some pretty cool features.
This pillow is similar to the typical U-shaped travel pillow, although it’s way more comfortable. Yes, it wraps around your neck, but its “height” provides neck support while keeping your head in an upright position. It’s also made of memory foam, which makes it just firm enough without being hard.
The Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Pillow even has a cell phone pocket if that’s your thing. I felt weird putting my cell phone in it and didn’t try that feature out, but you might like it. Finally, this pillow breaks down to a smaller size so it can fit into an included portable sack. That makes it ideal for people who don’t want their travel pillow to take up a lot of space.
Advantages of the Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow:
- It’s less than $20 and it qualifies for Amazon Prime!
- This pillow provides considerable neck support for people who need it.
- It’s easy to pack up and carry in a backpack or purse.
Disadvantages of the Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow:
- This pillow is not machine washable.
- It’s good for people who need to sleep sitting up, but it’s not that great for people who lean forward or to the side.
- This pillow is not adjustable in any way, so there’s only one way to use it.
- People who need to sleep upright.
- Anyone who needs a lot of neck support.
- Someone who wants to try an inexpensive pillow at first.
#6: SkySiesta SNUG Travel Pillow
The SkySiesta SNUG Travel Pillow is a newer option on the scene, so I was excited to try it out. I like this pillow because you can use it in a few different ways. It’s also very soft and cozy!
While the SkySiesta SNUG pillow is a traditional U-shaped travel pillow at heart, it has snaps you can fasten in front of your face. This may not sound comfortable, but the point of these snaps is keeping the pillow in place. It’s a lot more practical and cozy than it looks!
Since the SNUG pillow is soft and made of memory foam, I also tried it in a few different positions. It worked well as a pillow when I used it to lean against the window, and it wasn’t bad as a pillow for my tray table, either. This pillow is firm enough to provide support but soft enough to let you get comfortable no matter how you’re using it.
We also like that the SNUG pillow is washable, and that it can be folded into a bag to take up less space. Overall, we think this pillow is worth trying.
Advantages of the SkySiesta SNUG Travel Pillow:
- This pillow provides a ton of neck support for people who prefer to sleep upright.
- Because it’s soft with padding, you can use it to sleep in different positions.
- We like that it’s less than $25, and that it qualifies for Amazon Prime.
Disadvantages of the SkySiesta SNUG Travel Pillow:
- This pillow really only has one shape.
- It’s pretty big for a neck pillow — even when it’s put away in its carrying bag.
- At $25, this isn’t the cheapest pillow on our list.
- Anyone who prefers to sleep upright.
- People who want a soft pillow they can use in more than one way.
- Anyone who wants a travel pillow with its own carrying bag.
The Bottom Line
Before you plan your next vacation to some far-flung corner of the world, make sure you have all the essentials ready to go. This includes a travel pillow that will let you relax in comfort 35,000 feet in the air. Even if you don’t think you’ll need one, having a travel pillow in your bag can be a life-saver if you are tired and unable to sleep.
We hope that our reviews will help you choose the best travel pillow for you based on your sleeping style and your budget. If you have any feedback on any of the pillows we included in our list, please share in the comments below.