There’s a big difference between a four hour flight and an international, long-haul flight.
The longest flights of all can even take multiple days depending on how unlucky you get with layovers, transfers, and delays.
Everyone knows that long haul flights are the most uncomfortable flights, too. It’s almost impossibly not to be uncomfortable when you’re cramped up in the same position for so long.
One of the easiest things you can do to combat the soreness, aches, and pain of a really long plane ride is to make sure you have the perfect travel pillow with you.
I really hate being uncomfortable on airplanes, so luckily for you I’ve already tested and reviewed just about every worthwhile travel pillow out there.
So, if you’re looking for the best travel pillow for long haul flights, you’re in the right place! Check out my comparison table below, or read on for a more detailed look at each pillow I mention.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Travel Pillow For Long Haul Flights Comparison Table
- 2 Best Travel Pillow For Long Haul Flights: The Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow
- 3 Other travel pillow options for long haul flights
- 4 What I’ll test in the future
Best Travel Pillow For Long Haul Flights Comparison Table
|Travel Pillow||Pillow Type||Cost||Buy|
|Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow||Neck||$$$$|
|J-Pillow Travel Pillow||Neck||$|
|Travelrest Travel Pillow||Body||$$|
|Trtl Travel Pillow||Neck / Alternative||$$$|
Best Travel Pillow For Long Haul Flights: The Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow
- CONTOURED DESIGN: Unlike other neck pillows, the Evolution Cool is designed with proprietary dual-density memory foam that provides total comfort whether your head leans forward or to the side.
- COOLING SYSTEM: Designed with an innovative cooling vent technology that keeps the neck and head cool to ensure you get the rest you need on those long plane rides or road trips.
- TRAVEL ACCESSORY: Whether you're heading out on a road trip or flying to your next vacation destination, the Cabeau Evolution Cool will allow comfort and stability for the entirety of your travels.
This pillow is clearly the winner in my book. Below, I’m going to talk about the most common comfort problems people run into on long haul flights, and explain exactly how the Evolution Cool perfectly addresses every single one.
This is the number one issue most people face on long haul flights.
You have to keep your neck in a pretty awkward position for hours on end, and the human body really isn’t supposed to work that way.
Sleeping on a long haul flight can make neck pain even worse, too. When you’re asleep, your head flops all over the place and ends up in some very painful positions.
Well, Cabeau’s Evolution Cool travel pillow literally took care of all of my neck pain.
I first tested the pillow out on a twelve hour flight from the US to Europe, and was hoping that it would help even just a little bit.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up after a solid seven hour nap with 0 neck pain, soreness, or tightness!
The pillow is so good at preventing neck pain because of Cabeau’s new “dual density” memory foam approach.
Basically, they have two layers of memory foam inside the pillow. The outer layer is squishier and fits to the shape of your neck almost immediately, while the inner layer is denser and provides a firm base of support underneath the squishy outer layer.
You know how a lot of memory foam pillows get “crushed” during long trips, and become so compressed that they stop providing any real comfort? Cabeau’s dual density approach completely solves that issue.
Instead, the outer layer will slowly compress towards the inner layer, but the inner layer itself won’t compress further.
They basically found the perfect balance of firmness and comfort for a travel pillow.
On top of that, they designed the pillow so that it has a raised upper lip to it. This works extremely well, and keeps your neck firmly but gently in a healthy, neutral position.
A lot of other pillows seem alright at first, but let your head flop all over the place when you start nodding off.
You don’t have to worry about that with the Cabeau. When I woke up, my head and neck were in exactly the same position that they were when I fell asleep. No pain, and no tightness!
It really boils down to this: if you get bad neck pain on long plane rides, do yourself a favor and at least give the Cabeau a try. You really can’t put a price on saving yourself from serious neck strain.
It actually felt like I had been asleep at home in my comfy bed, instead of on a cramped, hot airplane.
Speaking of hot airplanes…
This is one of the main reasons I hate flying.
It doesn’t matter what you do – your airplane is always going to be too hot or too cold.
I’m not sure which is worse, either: sweating your butt off in a hot and stuffy plane cabin, or shivering and chattering your teeth because they set the A/C to -50.
I usually hate the heat more than the cold, and luckily this is where the Evolution Cool pillow really shines.
In fact, this is where it gets its name – the Evolution “Cool” – from.
Cabeau designed this pillow so that there’s plenty of airflow around your neck when you’re using it.
They cut air circulation vents into the pillow, so it doesn’t trap your body heat.
A lot of other travel pillows might seem comfortable at first, until you wake up drenched in neck and back sweat.
Not with the Cabeau!
I thought the circulation vents sounded like some kind of marketing gimmick at first, but they really, really work.
There’s nothing worse than being cramped, sitting, and sweating all at the same time, and for that reason alone Cabeau’s Evolution Cool is always going to be my go to travel pillow for long plane rides.
This is going to sound pretty similar to the neck pain category, because the pillow does a bang up job with back pain too.
I usually don’t even take back pain into consideration when testing travel pillows that just go around your neck, because most of the time it’s not back pain that these types of pillows are meant to address.
Well, I don’t know if Cabeau did it on purpose or not, but I was really surprised at how effectively this pillow dealt with my back pain.
It really just does such a fantastic job of keeping your head and neck in a neutral, comfortable position, that your back just doesn’t have the opportunity to get bent out of shape.
A lot of my back pain usually kicks in when I’ve been sleeping in a weird position. My head moves around a lot when I fall asleep on planes, in cars, or on buses, and that just seems to kickstart and exacerbate my back pain most of the time.
Well, like I said before, the Evolution Cool has this neat raised outer edge on it that firmly keeps your neck upright and straight when you’re using it. In addition, you can clasp the toggles in the front of the pillow around your neck, which keeps everything firmly in place.
And since your back usually does follow the curvature of your neck, it makes sense that a straight neck equals a straight back.
As a side note, I am talking primarily about upper back pain here.
It wouldn’t really be fair to criticize the pillow for failing to prevent lower back pain, because it’s not meant to be used for lumbar support.
I guess you could take it off of your neck, fold it up, and cram it behind your lower back if you really needed to. I’m sure it would actually be pretty comfortable, just because of the high quality memory foam.
To put it simply, I think that keeping everything straight, upright, and aligned properly is the real key to traveling without neck and back pain.
I don’t think I’ve tried another pillow that maintains alignment as well as the Cabeau did for me.
The last thing you want on a long haul flight is to be cramped in your seat with luggage, pillows, and trays jabbing into you from every side.
That’s why, no matter how comfortable a pillow might be, it’s important to consider how big and how stow-able it is.
I have to say, the Cabeau is not the smallest travel pillow in the world. It measures in at 12.3 inches long, 10.2 inches wide, and 5.5 inches vertically thick. It also weighs 15.8 ounces, which is just barely under a pound.
Personally, I’ll gladly take the slightly bulkier size in exchange for the crazy comfort I’ve gotten out of this pillow. But, I also tend to keep these things around my neck for the entire flight.
If you find yourself using it in stints throughout the flight, I could definitely see it becoming a bit cumbersome to take on and off, and to store when not in use.
The funny thing is that I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they actually think it’s a pretty small pillow. So maybe it’s just me either way, but no matter what you think, remember to check the size of your pillow before taking it on a super long flight.
It’s also worth nothing that you always have the option of compressing memory foam pillows to a fraction of their full size.
This can just get annoying when it then takes a few minutes for them to regain their shape afterward.
The headphones problem
This is a big one for a lot of people, even though you don’t hear about that often.
The number one issue many people have with around the neck travel pillows is that they interfere with headphone use.
The memory foam lip often gets in the way of over-the-ear headphones, pushing them up and preventing them from sitting comfortable on your head.
Well, apparently Cabeau was paying attention, because they actually fixed this problem!
There are shallow grooves built into the pillow on either side, right below your ears. You can nestle even the biggest of headphones right into the grooves, so they sit flush over your ears with no resistance from the pillow.
Again, this is a feature I didn’t even know that I wanted. But, once I realized how clever it is, I’m going to have a lot of difficulty trying out other pillows that haven’t implemented such a subtly helpful design.
Other travel pillow options for long haul flights
I know that my favorite pillow might not be the best fit for everyone.
So, here’s my final list of the top choices when it comes to lengthy air travel:
- Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow
- Read my full review of the Cabeau here
- J-Pillow Travel Pillow
- Read my full review of the J-Pillow here
- Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow
- Read my full review of the Travelrest here
- Trtl Pillow
- Read my full review of the Trtl here
I’ve broken them up into categories below so you can take a closer look at what you’ll get with each one. While I definitely consider the Cabeau to be the overall winner, these three really shine in certain areas.
The best travel pillow for neck pain on long haul flights
- Scientifically proven long-haul flight neck support pillow
- Holds neck in ergonomic position during rest
- Better than a traditional u-shaped memory foam travel pillow
I have to give this one to the Trtl Pillow.
It’s a super weird looking thing, and it’s not even really a pillow as much as a neck brace.
It’s literally a plastic brace wrapper in a fleece shawl, so it actually makes sense that it would be great for neck pain.
It works so well because it strikes the perfect balance between letting your head naturally roll to one side and supporting it just enough that your neck doesn’t actually get strained.
The best travel pillow for back pain on long haul flights
- The only pillow that provides FULL LATERAL SUPPORT for the upper body making it easier to relax, fall asleep, and stay asleep longer.
- Promotes proper head and neck alignment - KEEPS HEAD FROM FALLING FORWARD. Ideal for chronic pain sufferers. INFLATES EASILY with just a few breaths and DEFLATES INSTANTLY. Stores neatly when rolled to minimize packing space.
- Patented ERGONOMIC design provides proper support to prevent tension and neck strain. SIDE SLEEPERS LOVE IT!
The Travelrest travel pillow definitely wins here, although it’s not really a fair comparison.
The Travelrest is a full body pillow, while all of the others are basically just neck pillows.
It has a cool “lateral” design, which means it crosses across your torso. One end goes around your shoulder, and the pillow crosses your body with the other end pointing towards your opposite hip.
It’s easy to see why the Travelrest provides such great back support. It’s a firm column of comfort that keeps your entire body in a neutral position.
The most versatile travel pillow for long haul flights
- #1 BEST SELLING TRAVEL PILLOW on amazon in the U.K for the last 3 years with over 10,000 GENUINE product reviews worldwide on Amazon.
- WINNER OF THE BRITISH INVENTION OF THE YEAR 2013 and patented/pending worldwide
- A "MUST HAVE" FOR TRAVEL - this pillow actually helps you get some sleep on cramped planes, trains, buses or cars. Also perfect for relaxing at home, whether on the couch or reading in bed. Great for sleeping upright in bed too. Please note that our pillow is especially effective when used in the window seat of a plane and less so when used in the middle or aisle seats but still better then regular travel pillows.
The J-pillow travel pillow is hands down one of the most versatile pillows I’ve ever seen.
It’s unique shape means you can do pretty much anything you want with it.
It’s a solid neck and head pillow, and there’s an endless number of ways you can reposition it. Even the pickiest traveler will be able to find some form of comfort with the J-Pillow.
You can also fold it up and use it strictly as lumbar support if you suffer from lower back pain on longer flights.
I’m not sure if it was meant for that purpose, but I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I was with it stuffed behind my lower back.
How to choose the best travel pillow for your specific needs
You have to remember that different travel pillows are meant to address different paint points.
Like I said above, some are great with back pain, some are great with neck pain, and some are great at providing comfort across the board.
While I hope my testing gives you a head start in finding the perfect travel pillow for longer flight, it’s important to try different pillows out on your own, too.
What I’ll test in the future
Staying comfortable on super long flights is a never-ending battle. I’ll continue to test new travel pillows in the future, and I’ll also update this page if anything changes.