Kick back and relax with our pick of the best travel pillows for long-haul flights and other journeys
Of all the places to catch forty winks, aeroplanes, cars and other modes of transport are far from ideal environments. Thankfully, the best neck pillows can make nodding off – and, importantly, staying asleep – much easier. They’re an obvious investment for times when you want to catch some shuteye on the go, and can help you arrive at your destination without feeling too exhausted and let-lagged.
Although travel pillows traditionally come in a single U-shaped design, there’s now a pillow for every kind of sleeper. Whether you like to rest your head on the seat in front or are one of those people who can sleep soundly sitting bolt upright, finding the right kind of support for your in-transit sleep has never been easier. And if you don’t find it particularly easy to nod off, don’t worry – there are plenty of travel pillows with built-in features designed to help you drift off and get the sleep you need.
Check out our buying guide below for the most important things to look out for when buying a travel pillow and advice on how to choose the right one for you, or scroll down to jump straight into our pick of the best travel pillows for every kind of sleeper.
How to choose the best travel pillow for you
Inflatable or soft pillows?
The first decision you will want to make is whether you would prefer an inflatable or non-inflatable pillow. Both can provide a high level of support, so the choice really comes down to convenience and personal preference. Inflatable travel pillows have the advantage of taking up minimal space because they fold down when deflated and can tuck into almost any bag, but that convenience comes at the price of having to blow them up when you want to use them.
Non-inflatable pillows, on the other hand, are always ready when you need them but also have to be carried around and don’t fold away when not in use. This type can use more advanced materials such as memory foam, which – if used correctly – can provide the perfect balance between firm support and sink-in comfort.
How much weight will it add?
When travelling, every extra kilo can bring unwanted stress to the journey. A travel pillow is there to make your trip as comfortable as possible, but added bulk certainly won’t do that. While most travel pillows weigh around the 200-300g mark, those who prefer to carry minimal hand luggage might want to look for something that weighs a little less.
What else do I need to look out for?
If you want to make your travel pillow a regular travel companion, you will need to look for a pillow that’s easy to wash. Many soft pillows and inflatable pillows come with a removable cover that can be put in the washing machine for easy cleaning, but others can only be surface-cleaned and that requires a little more effort on your part. An easy-wash pillow may set you back a tiny bit more, but we think it’s always worth that little extra for the time and energy you’ll save – especially if you will be using it often.
How much do I need to spend on a travel pillow?
The answer to this question should largely depend on how often you travel, and how easily you’re able to fall asleep when you do. If long-distance car journeys or flights are few and far between, then you should only need a fairly basic travel pillow, which you can get for around £10. On the other hand, if you’re a frequent traveller and you’re struggling to get some decent shuteye when on the go, then you might want to invest in something a bit more expensive. Our favourite overall travel pillow, for instance, will cost you £70. Aside from a few exceptions, you will rarely have to spend much more than £80 on a travel pillow.
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The best travel pillows you can buy in 2023
1. Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Pillow: Best overall travel pillow
Price: £67 | Buy now from AmazonThis travel pillow ticks plenty of boxes. First, it’s memory foam, which makes it soft and comfortable. Second, it has two straps you can use to fasten the pillow around your headrest to stop your head falling forwards – a common problem with sleeping in an upright position. Third, as it’s U-shaped, it stops your head feeling too propped up.
All of this combines to help prevent neck pain on even the longest of journeys. It doesn’t stop there, though. Integrated air vents help to keep you cool – so you’re less likely to wake feeling clammy – and there’s even a side pocket in which you can store your phone (although probably not a plus-sized one). Finally, you can roll up this pillow easily and pop it into the zipped case, which can be clipped onto your luggage. What’s not to like?
Key specs – Dimensions: 24.13 x 25.4 x 12.7cm; Weight: 328.85g; Colours: Cardinal, indigo, jet black, steel, galaxy
2. Aidapt Super Soft Memory Foam Pillow: Best travel pillow under £10
Price: £12 | Buy now from AmazonAlthough it’s the most conventional travel pillow to make our list, the Aidapt pillow stands out for several reasons. Like most travel pillows, it comes in the popular U-shaped design and is worn around the neck, but feels a lot firmer to touch. This is thanks to the memory foam filling, which moulds to the neck, making it one of the most comfortable U-shaped travel pillows around.
The Aidapt pillow doesn’t come with any frills or extras, but it also doesn’t come with a high price tag. It lacks a luggage clip and the other convenient features of the pricier models, but if you’re only making a single journey or generally find it fairly easy to drift off while travelling, this pillow is probably all you need and will add a noticeable amount of comfort for a very small price. It also comes in a more attractive choice of colourways than most travel pillows, with the option of a soft pink or a subtle grey.
Key specs – Dimensions: 30 x 27 x 10cm; Weight: 300g; Colours: Pink, grey, teal green
3. Go Travel Ultimate Memory Foam Pillow: Best-value neck pillow
Price: £30 | Buy now from John Lewis Although £30 is a substantial amount to part with for a travel pillow, Go Travel’s Ultimate Travel Pillow is as good as any we’ve seen at this price. Compared to many other cheaper models, it offers substantially more support under the chin. Coupled with its elasticated clasp, this ensures your head stays upright when it might otherwise have rocked forward as you catch forty winks.
Thanks to its flat, grippy reverse, the pillow doesn’t move around too much, either, although we found it best to place it entirely below the headrest on an aeroplane seat. Despite its bulky appearance, the Ultimate Memory Pillow folds down small enough in its bag that you can easily stuff it in the top of a backpack or suitcase. In short, if you’re looking for a traditional neck pillow that does the job without costing the earth, look no further.
Key specs – Dimensions: 13.5 x 28.5 x 26.5cm; Weight: 40g; Colours: Black, grey
4. Huzi Infinity Pillow: An innovative travel pillow you will use again and again
Price: £40 | Buy now from AmazonAt first glance, this travel pillow looks more like a sleeping bag than a pillow because of its unique Mobius-shaped design and bamboo rayon fabric. But despite appearances, the clever design of the Infinity Pillow makes getting a good sleep possible no matter where you are. You can bend it, wrap it and scrunch it into any position, such as sitting or lying down, so you can find a sleeping position that works for you. On long-haul flights, it also means you will only need the one pillow to prepare for all plane seats and styles.
Although the Infinity Pillow doesn’t offer the same rigid support as some of the others in this list, the bamboo fabric is soft, durable and will make any sleep more comfortable. It makes a great makeshift pillow for uncomfortable hotel beds and car seats too, or you could just use at home to keep your neck and head cosy while you binge-watch your favourite series on the sofa.
Key specs – Dimensions: 25.4 x 16.5 x 16.5cm; Weight: 476g; Colours: Navy
5. Tempur Comfort Travel pillow: Most versatile travel pillow
Price: £85 | Buy now from TempurIt’s the most expensive pillow here by a long shot, but if you’re not a fan of the travel pillows that you wear around your neck, Tempur’s Comfort Travel pillow could be just the one for you. Made from the same materials used in its mattresses, it delivers an extra level of comfort and makes falling asleep easier whether you’re travelling by car, plane, coach or any other mode of transport.
In fact, its 40 x 26cm dimensions mean you can probably even get away with using it as your main pillow if you don’t get on with the lumpy things provided in many hotels (and considering the price tag, you’ll want to get your money’s worth). The Tempur Comfort Travel pillow comes in a removable, washable cover and has a carry case so you won’t lose hold of it when moving through the airport. It also has a three-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
Key specs – Dimensions: 26 x 40cm; Weight: 600g; Warranty: 3-year guarantee
6. J-Pillow: Best travel pillow for full neck and chin support
Price: £30 | Buy now from AmazonIf you’ve tried using a travel pillow before, but have still woken up with a stiff neck, this award-winning travel pillow has finally solved the problem. Its J-shaped design supports the chin and neck to prevent the annoying head bobbing that can keep you from getting a decent sleep when using a standard U-shaped pillow.
If there’s one thing we would change about the J-Pillow, it’s the fact that it doesn’t fold down or deflate. You can be sure you will get a sturdy pillow and superior level of support wherever you take it, but it’s not a pillow you will want to slip in your hand luggage “just in case”. That said, it does come with a snap-loop fastener to attach to your hand luggage, so it doesn’t have to add a whole load of bulk to your bag.
Key specs – Dimensions: 11.8 x 7.9 x 13cm; Weight: 213g; Colours: Navy, red, fern green
7. Travelrest: Best travel pillow for side sleepers
Price: £34 | Buy now from AmazonIf your biggest struggle with sleeping on planes is simply drifting off in an upright seated position, the Travelrest could be a game-changer. This ergonomic pillow looks a little like an inflatable boomerang, but don’t let that put you off. Its unusual shape lets it offer full lateral support, keeping your head and neck in a comfortable position so you won’t wake up with any pains or strains.
The Travelrest is one of the bigger travel pillows when inflated, but it deflates easily and weighs just 186g, meaning it won’t add a lot of weight to your bag. It’s also one of the most versatile travel pillows around and can be used in two different sleeping positions – either tether it across your body like a messenger bag or to the aeroplane seat and rest the side of your body against it. To make it a little softer, you can easily wrap a scarf or aeroplane blanket around it too.
Key specs – Dimensions: 5.7 x 12.1 x 27.3cm; Weight: 158g; Colours: Blue, grey
8. Trtl Pillow: An ingenious travel pillow that’s also a scarf
Price: £55 | Buy now from AmazonIf you want a travel pillow but don’t want to carry one – or be seen carrying one – around the departures lounge, Trtl has designed a pillow disguised as an everyday scarf. That’s because the Trtl pillow is essentially a scarf with hidden talents. Inside the fleece exterior is a patented support system, designed to give your neck and head all the support they need while you snooze in an upright position. Using this system and a Velcro fastening, it wraps around your neck to hold your head exactly where it should be while you sleep.
The Trtl pillow is made from a hypoallergenic fleece, which can be thrown in the wash with the rest of your clothes once you take out the removable support system. It’s easy to take out and put back in, and can also be easily adjusted and worn on either side of the neck. An unexpected bonus is that the Trtl pillow can be clipped onto your backpack or bag so you won’t have to wear it around the airport.
Key specs – Dimensions: 19 x 19 x 9.5cm; Weight: 138g; Colours: Black, red, grey, coral
9. Tielle Luxury Supersize Travel Pillow: Best luxury travel pillow
Price: £90 | Buy now from Tielle Love LuxuryThis isn’t a traditional travel pillow. It isn’t U-shaped and neither is it made of memory foam. You can’t pack it ridiculously small, or clip it to your luggage. But if all you want when you go away is the feeling of your favourite pillow from home, this is the travel pillow for you.
It’s made from 80% duck down and 20% duck feather, and is covered in an ultra-smooth 600-thread pillowcase – there’s no scrimping on comfort here. At 40 x 50cm, it’s small enough to pack into your luggage, and surprisingly squashable, taking up very little room in a suitcase. In fact, we even managed to fit it into our hand luggage with ease.
Key specs – Dimensions: 40 x 50cm; Stuffing: 80% duck down, 20% duck feather