10 best travel pillows
The latest designs support your neck and stop you leaning on your seat partner
It can be almost impossible to sleep well on a flight, but a high-quality travel pillow can make all the difference. The latest pillows are far more than a simple inflated affair. They can also protect your neck and prevent that embarrassing slide that has you leaning on your seat partner.
We tried various models including those that pack up so that they take up very little space, those made with memory foam, and even a contraption that straps onto your airline seat headrest. We tested them on flights from London to New York, across Canada from east to west, and even on a very bumpy flight in northern Peru.
The very best pillows packed away for easy storage and transport, were comfortable and actually helped us sleep before we landed.
Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow: £27.99, Amazon
Most travel pillows can’t prevent your head from falling forwards, but this one is different.
Two straps slip around the headrest of your seat and help to hold your head in place as you doze off.
The plush quick-dry fabric keeps you cool and the memory foam provides an incredibly comfortable sleeping position, alleviating neck pain and leading to a restful sleep for this tester.
We slept well for more than six hours using this pillow and also found it to be very portable. Once we landed, the pillow rolled up like a large cinnamon bun, slipped into the zippered case and clipped onto our luggage for easy transport.
Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow: £15, Amazon
This pillow can be used as an ordinary U-shaped pillow, but it also bends into other designs, including an S-shape to support the side of your neck and head. It can also be used to support your legs or back.
The snap closure keeps it in place and can be used to attach it to your luggage in transit.
The material is very smooth and soft, and as the cover is machine washable it is a lot easier to keep clean and hygienic compared to most travel pillows.
Although it was comfortable, it did, however, ride up and interfere with our tester’s headphones during the in-flight film.
NapUp Fly: £52.69/£37.42 with or without the built-in headphones, NapUp via Kickstarter
Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be really difficult in transit, but the NapUp contraption combining a head pillow and forehead strap keeps your head still while playing relaxing music through the inbuilt audio system.
You might feel a little silly putting it on mid-flight, but once you’re asleep you really won’t care, especially as the optional eye mask helps you enter a world of peaceful slumber.
It comes in an adorable mini suitcase and, although it is quite unlike most travel pillows on the market, it did help this tester to fall asleep and stay asleep for the majority of a transatlantic flight.
Infinity Pillow: £33.21, Infinity Pillow Co
When folded for travel, the infinity pillow takes up about the same amount of space as a light jumper, but when in use it can be arranged in a number of different styles to provide support to your head, neck and back, as well as drowning out some of the annoying sounds onboard an aircraft.
Our tester wrapped it around her head as instructed and found it worked well as a noise-cancelling device, which promoted sleep as she leaned against the window.
We did find it takes up quite a bit of room when fully extended, but its versatility was its finest feature.
Travelrest – Ultimate Travel Pillow: £18.95, Amazon
This long, thin pillow deflates and packs away very easily and fits into small spaces.
You do need to blow it up, but it fills fairly quickly. You lean the side of your face on it while the other end lies against your hip, or cross-body to the opposite side.
We found the material a little scratchy, especially at the seams, which woke us up mid-flight. It also seemed to need quite a lot of readjusting and tended to slide over to our seat partner’s side.
It can be worn across your body like a guitar and your hands can tuck underneath to keep them still while you sleep.
Trtl Pillow: £24.95, Trtl
This looks more like a scarf than a traditional U-shaped pillow and folds up tiny that you can pack it in the smallest spaces.
It is comfortable enough with velvety fabric, although you have to choose which side you want your head supported on, which can be inconvenient if you like to move your head around in your sleep.
It wraps around your neck and under your chin and can feel a little restrictive; our tester overheated while wearing it and had to readjust it frequently.
Available in three colours, it was the easiest pillow to transport.
The Voyage Pillow by Sondre: £24.31, Sondre
The Voyage Pillow is an eye mask and pillow in one. The versatile design can be used to comfort the back or front of your head, allowing for a variety of different sleeping positions.
The lightweight design features a microbead pillow and is 50 per cent smaller than comparable travel pillows.
Our tester found the stretchy fabric to be comfortable, although it slipped off and moved around while she slept.
It was very easy to pack and squashed into the side pocket of her hand luggage.
It worked particularly well when leaning against the window and could also supply lower neck support when the eye mask was pushed down.
Travelstar Hoodie Travel Neck Pillow: £10.95, Amazon
This neck pillow combines a travel pillow and a hood, which can look a bit silly depending on your outfit. However, you can pull the hoodie material over your eyes to block out light and help you drift off to sleep.
The drawstrings allow you to tighten it around your neck and keep it in place.
We found this pillow took up a lot of room in our hand luggage, though, while the material seemed to attract fluff and lint.
The Verdict: Best travel pillows
Our top pick, the Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow, was incredibly comfortable, stayed in place, provided support and led to a sound sleep in transit.
It was also easy to carry with its own portable case that attached easily to the carry loop on hand luggage, and could be squeezed down to take up less space. The carry case also had a space for cables or any other small items you may need while travelling.
The Voyage Pillow by Sondre was one of the most compact pillows we tested as well as being versatile and about as stylish as a travel pillow can be.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.