Are you looking for the perfect travel pillow? I’ve compiled an exhaustive list of travel pillow reviews – all written by yours truly – that reflect my experience researching and testing as many travel pillows as I can get my hands on.
When you make a choice based on one of my travel pillow reviews, you can rest easy knowing your selection will be the perfect fit for your travel needs and comfort!
If you’re wondering what you should consider when buying a travel pillow, feel free to check out my mini travel pillow buying guide – it’s the perfect accompaniment to my reviews!
Travel Pillow Reviews – Guides
Don’t feel like reading through a bunch of reviews? Check out my list of the best travel pillows of 2017 for a condensed look at my personal travel pillow picks!
Looking for the perfect travel pillow to take with you on your next long flight?
Travel Pillow Reviews
The Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow is one of the coolest – literally and figuratively – travel pillows I’ve ever tried. It’ll keep you cool, calm, and comfortable all day long.
The J Pillow Travel Pillow won the British Invention of the Year Award for a reason! There are plenty of gimmicky travel pillows out there, but this is the only one that works.
The Trtle Pillow is aptly named – you do look slightly like a turtle when using it. That’s ok, though, because it’s one of the best solutions out there for neck pain while traveling.
The Travelrest Pillow is another fantastic travel pillow. It proudly provides more lateral support than any other travel pillow out there and is perfect for back pain relief while traveling!
This Therm-A-Rest travel pillow is one of the single best compressible camping pillows I’ve had the pleasure of using. It’s really the perfect travel pillow if you enjoy camping as much as I do!
Cabeau’s original Evolution Travel Pillow is still one of the best memory foam travel pillows on the market. It’s not quite as high tech as their Evolution Cool alternative, but it works just as well!
The Kohbi Compressible Camping Pillow is another great entry in the camping travel pillow category. It’s rugged, comfortable, and small. What more do you need?
The original Kohbi Travel Pillow is a classic u-shaped around-the-neck travel pillow. It will keep you comfortable and pain-free while traveling!
The Daydreamer travel pillow is one of those rare, high quality inflatable travel pillows out there. Most pop quickly after you buy them, but this one is a cut above the rest in terms of quality and comfort!
With a 5 year money back guarantee, you don’t want to pass up Comfort Master travel pillow. Plush, comfortable, and portable, this is one well done neck travel pillow.
The Aeris Travel Pillow is a fantastic memory foam neck pillow that comes with tons of extras. You’ll be hard pressed to not get a good night’s sleep when traveling with this one.
The Travelmate Travel Pillow is perfect if you want a no-frills, staple travel pillow that you can grab and go with. It will keep your neck comfortable, and it won’t wear out anytime soon.
The Aller-Ease Travel Pillow is perfect for adults and kids. It’s hypoallergenic, compact, washable, and quite comfortable to boot. If you need more of a “real” pillow to travel with, look no further.
The Sky Track Travel Pillow set aims to be your inclusive solution to traveling uncomfortably. While it might not hit that lofty goal exactly, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it does address travel discomfort!
Travel Pillow Buying Guide
Are you overwhelmed by how many travel pillow reviews and options there are?
For this mini travel pillow buying guide, I’ve settled on the two most important metrics to keep in mind when perusing my list of travel pillow reviews: material and form.
Below I explore exactly what these metrics mean and how they can ultimately come together in the form of the best travel pillow for your individual needs.
Travel Pillow Materials
When dealing with travel pillows, material is king.
No matter how form-fitting, fancy, or reasonably-priced a pillow is, you don’t want it if it’s made out of scratchy material and filled with packing peanuts. Even if one of my travel pillow reviews sounds particularly appealing to you, don’t go with that option unless you’re sure that you like whatever material that travel pillow is made out of.
It’s important to understand the different types of materials that are used in travel pillows so that you can be sure of what you’re buying.
Beginning with the outside covering, most quality pillows utilize either a velour or velvet derivative material.
It is fairly common for cheaper travel pillows to be made with a stretchy nylon or spandex covering, but most of the higher quality pillows featured on this site utilize either velvet or velour.
While velour and velvet appear to be the same, there are some marked differences in each material.
Velour is a knit fabric that utilizes the pile knit structure. This means that velour is created by knitting yarns into little loops, and then by cutting the ends of the loops off.
Cutting the loops makes velour less of a shiny material than velvet is, while still feeling incredibly soft.
Because velour is a knitted fabric, the end result is a stretchy fabric that tends to be thinner than velvet.
Velour is commonly found in bath robes (see to the left), comfort clothes, and track suits.
Unlike velour, velvet is a woven fabric. Velvet does use the “pile weave” structure, which is a parallel to velour’s pile knit structure. This means that velvet is created by weaving yarns into little loops, all in the same direction.
The loops remain intact in velvet, as opposed to the cutting of the loops that occurs in the creation of velour.
Because the loops are kept whole in velvet, velvet tends to be a shinier fabric. Velvet also has very little “give” – it’s not stretchy. Velvet is a thicker fabric than velour overall.
There are many faux-velvet derivatives that vary in quality, but in my experience most tend to be rougher and more scratchy than true velvet. In short, velour = stretchy and light-weight while velvet = thicker and non-stretchy.
Knowing the difference between velour and velvet allows you to develop a travel pillow preference, which results in better and higher-quality rest when one made of your preferred material.
I personally prefer velour coverings on my travel pillows, as I feel that the stretchiness of velour better facilitates head and face comfort.
The light-weight quality of the fabric also allows the pillow to breathe more, and it doesn’t trap as much heat when in use.
Other than the cover material, we have the inside stuffing of the travel pillow. I’ve found that most travel pillows use either memory foam, polyester fiber, microbeads, or simply air as their filling.
While you can find the odd goose down travel pillow, and certain hypoallergenic travel pillows may use alternative allergy-friendly stuffing, I’ve found the former four fillings to be the most prevalent.
Memory foam filling is held by many as the best or most luxurious travel pillow filling.
As a very brief description, memory foam is polyurethane with added chemicals that increase its resistance and density (check out the memory foam article on wikipedia to learn more).
Higher densities of memory foam will soften when in contact with body heat, allowing it to mold perfectly to contours within minutes.
Memory foam is extremely compressible, and higher quality memory foam will return to its default shape very rapidly when decompressed.
In my experience, memory foam tends to trap heat more than other filler materials, which might be a deal-breaker for those who are sensitive to temperature while resting.
Polyester fiber is perhaps the most one size fits all filling of travel pillows, as it is already widely utilized in standard pillows and other cushions.
Polyester fiber is a robust material that stands up to hard abuse. Here are some characteristics of polyester fiber filling:
- Resistant to stretching and shrinking
- Resistant to most chemicals
- Quick drying
- Mildew resistant
- Abrasion resistant
- Easily washed
In other words, if you tend to be hard on your belongings or are traveling to more rugged destinations, polyester fiber filling may be the way to go.
Most microbeads are actually high quality polystyrene spheres – essentially small beads of Styrofoam.
Each individual bead ranges typically from 0.25mm to 0.7mm in diameter. Microbeads emulate memory foam in a way, as they tend to quickly reposition when subjected to pressure, giving the feeling of molding to one’s body.
Microbeads are non-toxic and actually discourage dust mites and other allergens, making them a good pick for allergy-prone travelers.
A common complaint about microbeads is that they tend to have a “new plastic” smell upon purchase, although in my experience this smell fades rapidly.
Microbeads do not trap heat and allow travel pillows to breath quite well while in use.
Many travel pillows use air as a convenient, cost-saving, and storage-friendly filling option.
When dealing with inflated travel pillows, I’ve come to realize that the quality really depends on the inflation/deflation mechanism.
A mechanism that’s intuitive and easy to access while the pillow is in use lets you inflate or deflate as needed.
This allows a more precise control over the firmness of the pillow that you miss out on with other types of filling.
Inflated travel pillows tend not to fit the contours of one’s head as well as other materials, though, and in my experience act more as support devices rather than true comfort-promoters.
Travel Pillow Form
Taking a travel pillow’s form/design into account when buying is an absolute must. There are four basic categories of travel pillow form that I’ve come across: around the neck, full-body, standard pillow, and miscellaneous/innovative.
Around the neck
Also known as U travel pillows, around the neck travel pillows are definitely the most common form of travel pillow.
When considering an around the neck travel pillow, some things to take into account and research are:
- The size of the neck opening. Do you have an especially large or small neck, and will this cause discomfort if the neck opening is not properly sized?
- Does the travel pillow have any type of button or fastener around the front that can be used for chin support?
- What style cushion is being used? Is it flat-backed, for a more form-fitting experience, or is it round-backed? Round-backed travel pillows often garner the complaint of pushing the head forward in an uncomfortable fashion.
Full-body travel pillows are often meant to provide a more complete resting experience to the user, and typically allow for better alignment throughout the entire upper body while resting.
Some things to take into account if you’re considering a full-body style travel pillow:
- Is it too big? Will you be able to easily maneuver the pillow on a cramped plane or in a cramped car, and will it give you trouble while packing?
- What kind of support does it give? Certain full-body travel pillows will focus more on body support, some focus on head support, and some try to provide all-over lateral support. What type of support matters most to you?
- Does the travel pillow have any type of clasp or strap that will keep it stable and in place during use? Untethered full-body travel pillows will often shift and become unwieldy while in use.
This style of travel pillow is exactly what it sounds like: a standard, square or rectangular pillow, although usually downsized for easier traveling and packing capability.
These pillows are perhaps the easiest to reposition during use, and can be re-purposed for lumbar support, leg support, lap comfort, and any other use that one might desire while traveling.
In my opinion, the biggest downside of a standard form travel pillow is that often, it will not interface comfortably with, say, an airplane seat, or a car seat.
This travel pillows are usually efforts to combine the best feature of various other forms.
For example, an innovative travel pillow might have 3 prongs instead of the traditionally 2-pronged U shape, which allow for increased chin and neck support.
Perhaps they simply take the around-the-neck form and enhance it by adding high-rise neck supports.
There is an endless pool of modified travel pillows to choose from, and I’ve found that innovative, non-standard travel pillows are often best for those with very specific travel comfort needs.
Travel Pillow Reviews Conclusion
When you’re reading through my travel pillow reviews, remember that they do often reflect my subjective opinion.
When I go over something like construction quality or pricing, I’m always as objective as possible. But, when I’m talking about things like the shape of the pillow, how it fits around my neck, or what material it’s made out of, personal opinion does come into play.
For example, if I enthusiastically recommend a pillow made with a velour cover but you know that you hate velour, that’s ok! That travel pillow simply isn’t for you. Never make a purchase if you know for a fact that you’ll dislike something about that travel pillow, no matter how good it might sound otherwise.
At this point I’ve tested and reviews more travel pillows than I can count. This page only represents a subset of the pillows I’ve reviewed, and I’m constantly updating it and adding more content.
Please enjoy my travel pillow reviews, and please contact me with any questions! I’m positive that with all of the reviews on this page, you will end up finding the perfect pillow!