A good travel pillow can make a long journey so much more comfortable, especially if you need to get some decent sleep. Equally, the wrong travel pillow can feel like a complete waste of space and money.
Whether it’s an airplane, car, train or coach, if you want to sleep for several hours in the sitting position, it’s worth investing in a decent pillow that will support your head and neck properly.
I’m a frequent flyer, making several grueling intercontinental flights a year, and some shorter trips within Europe too.
I’ve tried many travel pillows over the years, from the standard ones you pick up in airport gift shops at the last minute, to innovative new pillows that provide much better support.
In this review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the top 10 travel pillows I’ve found. Hopefully you’ll find one that helps you relax and sleep comfortably the next time you have a long journey ahead of you.
This turned out to be an epic review, as I wanted to make sure I covered as many ‘make or break’ points about each pillow as possible. But if you don’t have the time to read all the way through, here’s a quick look at the top 2.
Bcozzy: best for short to medium neck lengths
The Bcozzy is currently my personal favorite when flying. It’s one of very few that provides 360 degree support, and it does a great job of keeping my head upright. The internal material is a micro-fiber that feels lovely and soft, and it has a plush external cover.
Considering how versatile it is, and how you can create different support heights with the coil, I think it’s likely to be the best travel pillow for most people. However, if you have a long neck, I’d recommend the Cabeau below instead.
Available at: Amazon
Cabeau: best for tall people and/or long necks
The Cabeau is my recommended travel pillow if you’re very tall and/or have a particularly long neck. The high sides and supportive memory foam material provide excellent wrap-around support for your head.
The cover feels lovely and soft, and it has a handy drawstring lock to keep the pillow in place on long journeys. And despite its large size, it does squeeze down considerably into the carry bag.
Available at: Amazon
Nowadays, there are many different fabrics, shapes, sizes and styles of travel pillows. The majority have a similar soft feel to the external cover – usually described as plush, velour or micro-plush.
So what really separates them is the type of internal material, the shape/design and overall size. Let’s take a quick look at the main options:
Memory foam pillows usually feel very comfortable, and can provide great support for the head and neck. But it’s worth checking if they can be compressed into a small carry bag to save space.
These tend to be a little softer than memory foam pillows, and can feel very comfortable to use. However, they don’t tend to compress as well as other styles.
If your main priority is saving space, an inflatable pillow is the way to go. However, they aren’t as comfortable as material pillows. And it’s important to find one that doesn’t push your head forwards on airplane seats.
These are the kind you’ll often find sold in gift shops and service stations. They can feel comfortable, but don’t usually provide enough head support. They are also terrible for transportation as they don’t compact at all. For those reasons, there aren’t any in my top 10.
A relative newcomer to the travel pillow world, these large inflatable cubes are a bizarre sight to behold. I’ve tried 3 different ones, finding them all too small to be comfortable, but too large to want with you on an airplane. So none of them made the final cut.
In addition to the main types, there are a couple of others that try to do something different, such as the Infinity pillow and Trtl below. These unusual styles will work for some people, but not everyone. So I’d read my reviews carefully if you do like the look of them.
Versatile and comfortable travel pillow that will work well for most people
The Bcozzy travel pillow gets top spot because it’s the one that’s most likely to work well for most people. And there’s a lot to like about this very comfortable and versatile little travel pillow.
Just to be clear from the outset, it’s tall people with very long necks that it might not be quite right for. In which case I’d skip ahead to the Cabeau below. Don’t let height alone put you off though – I’m tall myself, but don’t have such a long neck, and found it very comfortable to use on a recent transatlantic flight.
What’s great about the Bcozzy is the way you can use it in different ways. Unusually for a travel pillow, you can have complete 360 degree neck support, and create different support heights.
If you have a shorter neck, you can lean your head on just one level of the pillow. And if you have a longer neck, you can double the ends together to get more support. You can even fold it in half to get more cushioning if you’re in a window seat.
So it’s very easy to adjust it into a position that either lets you lean slightly to the side, or keep your head completely upright without dropping forwards. And I found the flatter back section means it doesn’t push your head forwards when on a plane.
The cover material feels beautifully soft. And the interior, made from high quality polyester fiber, feels soft, yet supportive to lean on. Conveniently, the whole pillow is machine washable.
I like that it comes with a handy snap strap to tie it onto hand luggage, which is useful as it doesn’t compact quite as tight as some pillows. It’s not the least compact – probably in the middle in terms of size. But if it’s essential to you that it packs as small as possible, that would be my only criticism.
- 360 degree support for your neck and head.
- Stops your head dropping forwards or sideways.
- Flatter back doesn’t push your head forwards.
- Can use it in different ways to get different support heights.
- Soft material feels lovely on the skin.
- Strap to tie it to your hand luggage.
- Adult and child sizes.
- Machine washable.
- Not ideal if you have a very long neck.
- It’s in the middle range in terms of portability.
The Bcozzy is a wonderful travel pillow that I find ideal for long journeys. It’s easy to find a position that you can relax in, safe in the knowledge that your head is well supported, and it feels comfortable and soft on the skin. For those reasons, I can confidently say it’s the best travel pillow I’ve tried so far.Buy from Amazon
Best memory foam pillow for people with longer necks
If you’re a tall person with a long neck in need of a pillow that will provide good support and keep your head upright, the Cabeau could well be the one for you.
I used it on a grueling 13 hour flight from Buenos Aires to London, and was actually able to get a few hours’ sleep thanks to the great support it provides. I don’t have the longest of necks, but being tall I did feel the high sides provided more support than normal sized pillows.
It has considerably higher sides than any other travel pillow I’ve tried. And with a simple lock mechanism on the strings, you can create the effect of 360 degree support.
As is often the case with memory foam travel pillows, I did find it better to put the gap at the back to prevent it pushing my head forwards though.
The memory foam is of medium density for a travel pillow, which contributes to the effective support it provides when you lean into it. And despite being quite dense, it still feels soft, molding nicely to your head during the journey. And importantly, the cover is a soft velour that feels lovely on the skin.
Handily, it comes with a small travel bag it amazingly does compact down into to save space. And the exterior cover can be removed and machine washed.
One slightly bizarre feature is the side pouch to slot a mobile device into, something I definitely didn’t use. My Samsung was too big anyway when I tried it, and I just don’t want my phone stuck next to my head for hours on end.
- Great for tall people and those with long necks.
- Does a fantastic job of keeping your head completely upright.
- Quality memory foam that feels comfortable to rest your head on.
- Soft velour cover that’s machine washable.
- String lock mechanism keeps it in place well.
- Compacts well into the carry bag.
- Near 360 degree support.
- Perhaps too big for children or adults with shorter necks.
- The side pouch for mobile phones is unnecessary and won’t fit all phones.
- In some seats, you might need to reverse it so your head isn’t pushed forwards.
This might not be the one for shorter people, those with short necks, or children. But for tall adults with long necks, I highly recommend trying the Cabeau. The combination of practically 360 degree support and high sides will give you the best chance of a comfortable sleep on your journey.Buy from Amazon
Ideal for short to medium sized people who need a stronger neck brace effect
The Trtl travel pillow has an innovative design that’s completely different from any other I’ve tried. It’s like a reinforced scarf, with an internal plastic brace along one side that conforms to your neck and keeps your head upright.
It works by wrapping the material completely around your neck, with velcro strips to keep it in place. With the brace placed to the side, or front, when you wrap it around, you end up with a good supportive feel, almost like a soft neck brace.
In theory, it’s a great idea and when I first put it on I really thought I’d found a winner. And I think for some people, this could be the perfect travel pillow. However, there are two small issues to be aware of that might mean you’re not one of those people!
Firstly, you need to wrap it around quite tightly to get the best hold – especially if your head tends to slump forwards. And that means it can feel quite warm – fine for one of those colder overnight flight, but not if you tend to overheat when travelling.
Secondly, it only comes in one size -a size that might not suit tall people with very long necks. Having said that, I’m tall and really like this pillow. So I do think the one-size-fits-all point will only be an issue if you have a particularly long neck.
Another point in its favor is the small, lightweight design. It folds down nicely and takes up less space than the memory foam pillows. Though it does take up more room than the compact inflatables.
As for the material, it’s a super soft fleece that feels lovely on the skin. It’s machine washable too as you can remove the internal brace section.
- Has an internal brace structure that helps keep your head upright.
- The wrap-around scarf effect provides 360 degree support.
- Soft, fleece material that feels lovely.
- Machine washable cover.
- Lightweight design that takes up less space than larger memory foam or micro-bead pillows.
- Need to wrap it quite tightly to get a good hold, which can then feel warm.
- The brace is only on one side, so you need to adjust it if you change sleeping position.
- Only comes in one size, that’s not ideal for children or long necks.
The Trtl pillow might be ideal if you need a travel pillow that acts like a neck brace on long trips. If you have a very long neck I’d avoid it though. Equally, the brace will probably be too high for children. But for anyone else, this is a great option that should keep your head upright for hours on end.Buy from Amazon
Solid memory foam pillow with the classic u-shape
The previous travel pillows all show how designers are exploring new ways to keep the head upright on long trips. But for some people, the classic U-shape design is still a good option.
And of all the basic U-shaped memory foam pillows I’ve tried, the Aeris is probably the best. It provides great cushioning and support for different neck sizes, with high quality, springy memory foam that molds well to your body.
It feels surprisingly soft to lean into, considering how dense the memory foam appears, and provides good cushioning for your head. As is so often the case, I found it a little too thick on an airplane seat and had to use it with the opening at the back, which worked well.
I liked that there’s a simple lock on the string, almost identical in style to the Cabeau pillow. That means people with different thickness necks will be able to adjust it to suit them.
As for neck height, I think it’s a decent option for probably anyone. Even if you have a long neck, you can close the gap more. I’d probably still prefer the Cabeau, but if you don’t like that one for whatever reason, the Aeris is worth considering.
The external cover is made from a plush velour and feels nice and soft against the skin. You can remove it and machine wash it if you need to, though the zip is a little fiddly to close up again.
Considering its size, you’d think it wouldn’t squeeze into the little bag it comes with. Admittedly, it takes some effort to get it back into the bag, but once you do, it takes up a lot less space than the expanded pillow.
- Springs into a large memory foam pillow, with a wide surface area to lean on.
- Good for different neck heights and thickness.
- String lock helps keep it in place.
- Plush velour cover that feels soft, and is machine washable.
- You need a little strength to compact it back into the carry bag.
- Quite thick at the back, so you might need to reverse it on airplane seats.
If you like the idea of a large, basic and supportive memory foam pillow for long journeys, that’s exactly what the Aeris will give you. I think it could be particularly good for people with wider necks. It doesn’t compact as much as the smallest pillows, but it does a good job considering how big the pillow expands to.Buy from Amazon
Versatile pillow that’s ideal for window seats, cars and trains
The J-pillow continues with the theme of moving away from traditional U-shapes, opting for a double J shape instead. The idea being that the J section sits under your chin, stopping your head from dropping forwards.
It’s proudly advertised as winning a British invention award in 2013, so I was particularly excited to try it out. I used it on a very early morning 5 hour flight and did find it very comfortable to use when leaning up against the window.
The chin support J section really does help keep your head in place, and the side part feels great to lean into. And the soft external velour material adds an extra layer of comfort for the skin.
The return journey in a middle seat was a slightly different story, however. It was still good, but it just wasn’t as good as when I had the support of the window to really make the pillow work its magic.
The interior material, like the Bcozzy, is made from a 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 with the pillow is that the strange shape and springiness of the filling make it slightly inconvenient for storage. You can squash it down into a space in your bag, or use the strap to tie it to your hand luggage. But it does still takes up more space than I’d like it to.
- The J section in the design helps stop your chine dropping forwards.
- Can be used in various different ways to find the ideal position for your seat.
- The fluffy velour cover and soft internal material feel fantastic to lean on.
- Whole pillow is machine washable.
- Not quite as effective on longer flights if you don’t have a window seat.
- The shape and size mean it’s not the most portable pillow.
I think the J-pillow is a great choice if you have a window seat, or are travelling by car or train. It’s still pretty good for middle and aisle seats, just be aware that it might not stay in place quite as well. A final point in its favor, however, is that it’s likely to suit people of all heights and neck lengths.Buy from Amazon
Most compact space-saving inflatable pillow
If you need a travel pillow that takes up as little space as possible in your luggage, the Purefly is one of the most compact I’ve tried. The Jerrybox, Mlvoc and Travelrest (see below) also fold up tightly, but the Purefly would be my first choice for a couple of other reasons.
It inflates to the classic U shape, but with the additional raised neck supports that seem to be the norm with inflatable pillows nowadays. Those extra domes can help a little if you’re in a seat where the pillow doesn’t push your head forwards too much.
Unfortunately, I did find it pushed my head forwards in a plane seat, so had to let out some air, which meant less support for my head. I tried turning it around, but the fact that there’s no way to tie it meant that it slid out of position too easily.
I did like the micro-velvet fabric, which felt lovely and soft on the skin. The cover is removable and machine washable too, which adds to the longevity.
It has an inbuilt hand pump, avoiding the need to use your mouth to inflate it. You just squeeze the little dome next to the open air valve, and it slowly inflates. It does make a strange noise with each pump though. So you’ll either giggle at the noise or inflate it slowly to avoid strange looks.
- Very compact, folding into a small carry bag.
- Raised neck contours provide extra support.
- Lovely micro-velvet cover that feels soft.
- Removable, machine washable cover.
- Easy inflation with the inbuilt pump.
- Wide back section pushes your head forwards if you fully inflate it.
- No tie to keep the pillow in place if using it reversed.
- Makes a funny noise when inflating.
The Purefly isn’t the most comfortable pillow I’ve tried, but it’s a winner when it comes to saving space. If you find it easy to sleep on an airplane and a travel pillow is just a bonus, it’s worth considering if you don’t want to cart around a larger pillow. But if you need a very comfortable travel pillow to sleep, this type of inflatable might not be right for you.Buy from Amazon
Compact inflatable pillow, ideal for for side sleepers
The Travelrest pillow is one which side sleepers are most likely to appreciate. When fully inflated – which is remarkably quick to achieve – it creates a long shape that crosses the front of your body, providing a large surface area to lean against.
Considering how large it is when inflated, it’s actually extremely compact when you’re on the move. 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.
I think it’s important to take the time to understand how to make this one work best. If not, I can see how it could be frustrating trying to get it to stay in place.
The first way is to tie the top string around your seat – it works on planes, trains, buses and cars. Then the bottom string can either hang loose or attach to your seat belt. A better alternative is to tie the loops together and wear it around your body, free from the seat.
When set up, it provides a great area to lean against – especially if you have a window seat. But even in a middle or aisle seat you can make it work.
The main problem is that despite what the manufacturer claims, I didn’t find it fully prevented my head dropping forwards when sitting more upright. Especially when compared to some of the previous pillows. But in a reclining seat, I did find it worked very well as I’m naturally a side sleeper.
My second complaint is the awkward size. Not only does it raise eyebrows on a flight, but it’s a bit awkward to change sides when you’ve had enough of trying to sleep leaning to one side. And if you have people wanting to get past you regularly, it’s a large object to move out of the way.
- Great for side sleepers, with a large surface area to lean into.
- Very compact and portable.
- Feels great to lean on if you have a window seat or are travelling by car.
- Can be tied onto the headrest or around your body to keep it in place.
- Comforting for children to use.
- Doesn’t provide wrap-around support to stop the head dropping forwards.
- Can be tricky to work out how best to use.
- The large size when inflated can be awkward on airplanes.
The Travelrest is potentially a great idea for side sleepers, but not for those who really need their head kept upright. It’s also good for children, who will love the comforting feeling of the arm across their body – especially on long car journeys. Make sure you get the velour cover though, as the basic plastic cover isn’t nearly as nice.Buy from Amazon
Versatile pillow with plenty of soft fabric to lean against
The Huzi infinity pillow is one that I really wanted to love when I first saw it, and in some ways did. I particularly liked that it offers a completely different style than the typical travel pillow U shape.
There’s just one glaringly obvious problem when you actually have it in front of you: it’s very large, and doesn’t compact down nearly enough to make it one I’d be happy to use again and again on flights.
On the positive side, I do think there are situations where it could be the perfect pillow. For example, in the back seat of a car I think it’s great. Space isn’t such an issue, and you can get really snug and cozy with it. I imagine older children and teenagers would really enjoy the wrap-around feeling of comfort that it provides.
And perhaps if you don’t travel frequently, it could also be one to try – especially if you often find travel pillows push your head forwards on an airplane.
It takes a bit of playing around to work out the best way to use it. The figure of 8 design is a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s fun experimenting with different positions and styles of wearing it.
I found the best way was to wrap one loop around my neck, then hang my arms inside the other loop. That added just enough tension to make the neck part nicely supportive for my head. And in a window seat, I just bundled it up against the side and sunk my head into the soft fabric.
The bamboo fabric cover feels soft on the skin, though it has a slightly more synthetic feel than I was expecting. It still feels lovely, just not quite as fluffy as the plush velour covers of some other travel pillows.
- Versatile figure of 8 design gives you different ways to use it.
- It feels soft to lean on.
- Doesn’t push your head forwards.
- Very large and doesn’t compact well.
- You have to wrap it quite tightly to stop the head drooping.
The Infinity pillow is a nice idea, but for me is simply too large. You can squeeze it into the carry bag and attach it to hand luggage, but it still seems excessively bulky. However, if you’re not overly concerned by space, or plan on using it more in a car than an airplane, it does have potential – especially if you like the idea of having enough material to create a little nest.Buy from Amazon
Very compact, simple inflatable travel pillow with raised neck support
The final 2 in the review are very similar, both to each other and to the Purefly above. All 3 have a similar inbuilt hand pump, plush external cover and the raised neck support.
The Mlvoc is very compact, folding down into the little carry case, and you can squash it down even more inside your hand luggage if you want to. For me, that was probably the main point in its favor.
It’s very easy to inflate, and I like that you can choose a version you inflate with your mouth to save even more space, or a slightly larger version with the in-built hand pump. Either way, it’s very quick to inflate and deflate.
The raised arch on the Mlvoc does provide support for your head, and gives you an extra surface to lean against to the side. But I found it only works well when you’re reclining in your seat.
I discovered that in a more upright position, it just didn’t do what I most needed it to – prevent my head from dropping forwards. You can’t tie the ends together, and there’s too much of a gap to stop your head falling forwards.
The external cover is of a similar feel to the other 2 of this style – a micro-plush velour that feels comfy and soft for extended periods of use. It’s also conveniently machine washable.
- One of the most compact, squeezing tightly into its little carry bag.
- Micro-plush velour cover that feels soft and is machine washable.
- Easy inflation with the inbuilt pump.
- When sitting upright, doesn’t stop your head dropping forwards.
- No way to secure the ends to keep it place when used in reverse.
The Mlvoc is a reasonable option if you’re in a reclining seat, or if you don’t find your head tends to drop forwards. It’s also another great space-saving travel pillow if you don’t have room for one of the bulkier pillows. But when it comes to comfort, it just doesn’t compete with the better pillows.Buy from Amazon
Compact inflatable pillow with 2 inbuilt pumps
Like the Mlvoc and Purefly, the Jerry Box has the classic inflatable U-shape with the additional raised neck supports. It has 2 in-built hand pumps, which they market as meaning it inflates even faster.
I think that’s a bit of a gimmick though, as it still inflates quickly with 1 pump. And personally, when I’m on a plane with 12 hours ahead of me, it doesn’t make much difference if a pillow inflates in 10 or 30 seconds.
And in fact, I found the 2 air valves, along with the 2 raised pumps and double neck ridges just make the whole pillow look overly-complicated and a bit ugly. It also adds unnecessary bulk, so isn’t quite as compact as the Mvloc and Purefly.
The shape and neck ridges did provide a nice level of support, especially when leaning back or to the side. So if you’re in a reclining seat, it will help keep your head in line and not slumping sideways.
A plus point compared to the other two of this style is that it does have a way to fasten the ends together. And that means it won’t slip off if you choose to wear it the other way round to stop it pushing your head forwards.
However, it’s just a string and a loop with no obvious way to tie it other than with your own knot. So it offers a solution, but then doesn’t really make it easy for you anyway.
I did like the micro-plush velvet material, which feels lovely and soft on the skin. And it’s easy to remove the cover, which can be machine washed.
- Compact, with a small carry bag.
- Very quick to inflate.
- It has a string to tie the ends together and keep it in place if used in reverse.
- Raised neck contours provides good support for longer necks.
- The micro-plush velvet material feels lovely, can be removed and machine washed.
- The double pump selling point seems like a gimmick, and the extra pump just takes up more space.
- The design of the string tie is unhelpful.
- It looks a bit ugly with 2 pumps, air valves and multiple contours.
If you like this kind of inflatable travel pillow, and want one that doesn’t push your head forwards, it might be worth considering. But for me, the only real reason to choose this type is when space is of the essence. When it comes to comfort and decent neck support, like the Mlvoc and Purefly, it just can’t complete with the top pillows.Buy from Amazon