The Best Travel Pillows For Flights

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photo of four travel pillows

In the photo above, you can see my top four travel pillows, all of which I’ve used on recent flights in 2024. Top row left to right: Cabeau Evolution S3, Flowzoom. Bottom row left to right: Bcozzy, Trtl.

You may already know that it’s kind of tricky to fall asleep when your head is nodding up and down like a bobblehead figure on a car dashboard.

Okay, so I exaggerate a little. You probably wouldn’t fit on a car dashboard. But you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever tried sleeping with the wrong travel pillow that’s now 2000 miles away from a refund.

I regularly test new travel pillows, from the standard ones sold in airports to some very bizarre inventions. If you’ve ever seen the ones you stick your arms and face in, you’ll know what I mean. Take a look at this inflatable oddity I bought online:

Inflatable Cube travel pillow

I decided not to test this one in public because I’m not a huge fan of being laughed at by children.

“Mummy, why is that man’s head stuck in a beachball?”

While I’m all for manufacturers getting creative with the ergonomics of travel pillows, they still need to feel comfortable, support your neck and head, and ideally not take up too much space when you’re not using them.

Over the last ten years, I’ve taken a new travel pillow with me every time I’ve flown. I’ve also asked several family members and friends with different body shapes to help me compare multiple travel pillows on road trips. In the photo below, for example, you can see one of my more ambitious testing trips!

lots of travel pillows in the back seat of a car

So if you need a good travel pillow for your next trip, here are the ones I recommend based on many hours of personally testing them on planes, trains, and automobiles. I bought all of them online in the UK, but the first three are also available in the US and Canada.

1. Bcozzy

Best travel pillow overall, with a flexible design, plush fabric, and multiple sizes

photo of a man wearing the Bcozzy travel pillow on a plane

In the photo above, I’m using the large adult size of the Bcozzy (because I’m an adult…)

The versatile Bcozzy travel pillow is my top pick for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the coil design provides complete 360-degree neck support. That means there’s no opening for your head to drop through, which is my main issue with standard U-shaped travel pillows.

Secondly, I like how you can create different support heights with the overlapping ends. If you have a shorter neck, you can lean your head on just one level of the coil. Alternatively, if you’re a bit of a giraffe like me, you can double the ends together to get more support. I also like how there’s a small velcro patch on each end to secure it in place and keep it nice and snug.

The clever wrap-around design means you can lean to either side, or allow your head to rest slightly forwards without your chin hitting your chest. I also found the flatter back section meant it doesn’t push your head forward when you’re flying – a problem that chunkier travel pillows sometimes create.

The plush exterior fabric feels soft and comfy. And the polyester fiber interior has just the right amount of fill to cushion your head for long periods of time. Conveniently, the whole pillow is machine washable.

I like that it comes with a handy snap strap and carry bag to tie it onto hand luggage, which is useful as my only criticism is that it’s not as compact as an inflatable travel pillow.

The final reason why the Bcozzy travel pillow took top spot is because of what I call the partner test. After I’d finished putting my partner through the embarrassment of trying multiple travel pillows on our most recent flight, she asked to hang onto the Bcozzy, put her headphones on and fell asleep.

The Bcozzy comes in a large or extra large adult size, as well as two sizes for kids and multiple colors that might appeal to the little ones. The large was fine for me, but I think the extra large would probably suit my large frame (193 cm tall) even better.

It costs between $38 and $50 in the US, and £35 to £47 in the UK, depending on the size.

2. Cabeau Evolution S3

Best memory foam travel pillow, with high sides and a fastener

photo of a man on a plane using the Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow

In the photo above, I’m using the Cabeau Evolution S3. I’ve fastened the cord tightly to keep my head upright.

The Cabeau Evolution S3 travel pillow has particularly high sides, so it’s probably best suited to taller adults or those with longer necks. It worked very well for me (193 cm), while my shorter partner (160 cm) found the sides a bit too raised for her liking.

A useful feature compared to basic U-shaped travel pillow is the adjustable cord lock at the front to draw the sides closer together. I found this pretty much gives it 360-degree support because the edges lock onto your chin, preventing your head from dropping forward.

I also had the previous iteration of the Cabeau, and like how they’ve made the back section thinner on the S3. It’s more comfortable to use on a plane because there’s less ‘lumpiness’ between the back of your neck and the seat.

The fill is responsive memory foam, which cushions your head well and provides effective support when you lean into it. And the external fabric is moisture-wicking polyester. Although the fabric doesn’t feel quite as soft as the Bcozzy, it’s still a very comfortable combination of fabric and fill, especially when compared to inflatable or microbead travel pillows.

Interestingly, the Cabeau Evolution S3 comes with an optional seat strap to keep it in place and prevent your head from doing that ‘flopping forward’ thing. I can see the logic behind the strap, but I didn’t use it as I wasn’t keen on the idea of attaching my head to a plane seat.

Conveniently, it comes with a small travel bag that it compresses into to save space, and the exterior cover can be removed and machine washed.

I wouldn’t recommend the Cabeau Evolution S3 for children due to the relatively high sides. Otherwise, it’s an excellent travel pillow that many adults will find comfortable to use. It costs just under $40 in the US on Amazon, and over £50 in the UK.

3. Trtl Travel Pillow

A curved internal piece creates a more substantial surface to lean on

man using Trtl travel pillow on a plane

In the photo above, I’ve positioned the Trtl sideways so I can lean against it. You can also position it to the front and rest your chin on it.

The Trtl travel pillow is quite unique in that it has a curved piece of flexible plastic inside one section. This provides a more solid structure to lean your head on compared to softer travel pillows.

My partner is a nurse, so she took one look at the Trtl and asked if it was a neck brace in disguise (it’s not). And I do think this is one that will be best suited to those who really feel the need for more support than the average travel pillow will provide.

Personally, I quite liked the extra support when I positioned the part with the structure on my side. However, when I positioned the main part to the front and rested my chin against it, I didn’t like how the fabric ended up being so close to my mouth – an issue my partner agreed with as even more of her face was tucked inside the fabric.

The other issue is that to keep your head upright, you need to wrap the fabric quite tightly around your neck. While this wasn’t uncomfortable, it did end up being quite warm. Perhaps you’d like that if you tend to get cold on flights, but it was a bit too snug for me.

It comes with a smart travel bag and clip to attach it to your luggage, which is good because it doesn’t compact much due to the curved plastic support piece.

Overall, I think the Trtl is one to consider if you’ve struggled to find a travel pillow that provides adequate support for your head or neck. With some adjusting and experimentation, it’s definitely possible to get some serious support out of it. Just be prepared to look a bit odd as you wrap and rewrap the long fabric piece while you work out how to use it!

The Trtl travel pillow costs just under $65 in the US, and just under £60 in the UK. This makes it a particularly expensive travel pillow, so I’d try it at home in advance so you can send it back if you don’t like the style.

4. Flowzoom

Best inflatable travel pillow, with an H-shape chin support option

two photos of a man using the Flowzoom travel pillow in different positions

In the photos above, you can see how the Flowzoom can be used in different ways.

If you’re looking at the photos of me using the Flowzoom and wondering if it really is that big, then yes, it is! I was surprised by how large it turned out when fully inflated, so smaller adults and/or those with shorter necks might want to skip this one.

What I liked about the Flowzoom though is the H-shape it has. This made it more comfortable than most other inflatable travel pillows I’ve tried because it doesn’t push your head forward as much.

In the photo above, you can see the H in the photo on the left. It’s interesting how they’ve designed it so you can turn it around and rest your chin on what would usually be the back section. And it actually worked pretty well, providing some decent support for my head and neck.

In the photo on the right, I’m using the Flowzoom the ‘normal’ way. The thin bar is now at the back and allows some room for my neck, while still supporting my head on the sides.

Like the Cabeau Evolution S3, I needed to tie the fastener quite tightly to prevent my head dropping forward through the gap with the pillow this way around, so I preferred to use it back to front.

I liked how the Flowzoom has some soft fabric on the outside to make it feel a bit softer. It’s quite thin though, and it doesn’t feel as comfortable to lean on as the previous three I’ve covered.

On balance, if you want an inflatable travel pillow that doesn’t take up much space when it’s deflated, but still provides good support for your head, the Flowzoom is one to consider.

It costs around $25 in the UK, where I bought it. It’s not currently available in the US.

The next travel pillows are ones I’ve tried in previous years. They are all still available, but I’ve found the four above to be more comfortable and/or supportive. However, I wanted to include these too in case my top picks don’t appeal to you and you’d like some more ideas.

5. J-pillow

A plush pillow with a thick chin support and piece to lean your head on

man using the J-pillow travel pillow on a plane

The J-pillow won a British invention award back in 2013, with its unique design that steers well away from the classic U shape. It has a sort of double J shape instead, with a section that sits under your chin to help prevent your head from dropping forward.

I’ve tested it on two flights, and it’s very comfortable to use in a window seat. That chin support really does help keep your head in place, and the side part feels plush to lean on. It didn’t feel quite as effective in a middle or aisle seat though.

The interior material is made from squishy polyester fiber. I personally like the feel of that, and it doesn’t get as hot as some memory foam pillows. I also like the fact that the whole pillow is machine washable, not just a cover.

My main issue is that the strange shape and springiness of the filling make it slightly inconvenient for storage. You can squash it down into your bag, or use the strap to tie it to your hand luggage. But it’s still kind of a lumpy ‘thing’ you have to cart around with you.

I think the J-pillow is a good choice if you have a window seat on a plane, or are traveling by car or train. It’s still okay for middle and aisle seats, but it might not stay in place quite as well. It costs around $40 in the US and around £20 in the UK.

6. Travelrest

Compact inflatable pillow for side sleepers

man using the Travelrest pillow

The Travelrest inflatable travel pillow is another one with an unusual design. It has a long shape that crosses the front of your body, providing a large surface area for you to lean against.

It comes with an attached strap that you can tether around the top of your seat to keep it in place. Alternatively, you can wear it like a bag and hug it to your body.

I like how it gives you a comfortable surface to lean against – especially if you have a window seat. And you can even make it work in a middle or aisle seat.

My main complaint is that it didn’t stop my head from drooping forwards when sitting upright. But in a reclining seat, it worked well as I’m naturally a side sleeper. My second complaint is that it looks a bit odd due to the size, and is a little awkward to change sides.

Considering how large it is when inflated, it rolls up tightly and is remarkably compact. So if you’re in need of a space-saving pillow, and you’re a side sleeper at home, this could be one you like. It costs around $30 in the US or £25 in the UK.

7. Cloudz

Large microbead pillow, with a plush cover

man using the Cloudz travel pillow

The Cloudz is a microbead-filled travel pillow that’s similar to the type you may have seen in airport shops. The microbeads provide soft cushioning, so it feels gentle when you let your head sink into it. It’s also large enough to keep your head reasonably upright, which isn’t always the case with this style.

It has a convenient snap closure which allows for a tighter fit around your neck, meaning your head is less likely to bobble around on awkward angles.

Like so many of this style though, the sheer quantity of material in the back section means you need to play with it to find a comfortable position. I found it was good for reading and watching movies, but when I wanted to sleep, I had to turn it sideways so it didn’t push my head forward.

The large size and quantity of microbeads also mean it doesn’t compact well, so you’ll need to tie it to the outside of your hand luggage.

If you’re a fan of the feel of microbead fill, the Cloudz travel pillow offers comfort and head support along with a soft external material. But if you’d rather save space and value ergonomic design, it might not be the one for you.

It costs around $15 in the US, which I think is a very reasonable price for a travel pillow. It’s not currently sold in the UK.