The best travel pillow for every kind of plane sleeper

Flying is by far the fastest and easiest way to travel. It’s relatively affordable, gets you from A to B quickly, and is the only way to make most international travel a reality. And if you can fall asleep en route, waking up at your destination is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world.

But let’s face it, sitting upright for hours in a pressurized steel tube with little to no legroom isn’t exactly what I’d call it cozy. This is where travel pillows come into play.

Sure, you could just stop by the airport gift shop and buy a basic, overpriced neck pillow since you saw someone standing in line with one. The truth is, these simple travel pillows are just that—there’s really nothing special about them, and they’re not for everyone.

So we wanted to dig a little deeper and find the best travel pillow options for every type of airplane sleeper. To fully flesh it all out, we spoke to a west coast flight attendant to bring her experience on board. Let’s see what she has to say and help you find the perfect travel pillow for you.

What are travel pillows?

Before we get into the best types of travel pillows, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as what we’re talking about. If you’ve ever been to an airport or flown on an airplane, I’m willing to say you’ve seen people with these U-shaped pillows around their necks. Well, that’s a travel pillow, folks, and by far the most common type out there.

Often referred to as ‘neck pillows’, these are simply placed around your neck and give you a chance to rest your head while flying so you can be a little more comfortable and maybe get some sleep. The thing is, these U-shaped pillows really aren’t as great as you might think based on their popularity.

In fact, according to our flight attendant source, she’s seeing “more people sleeping on planes without a travel pillow.” She went on to say that in her opinion, “I don’t really like the U-shaped pillow. I’d rather roll up a sweatshirt and make my own pillow.”

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So those cheap travel pillows from the airports might not be the best option. Instead, let’s find one that works for you and what you really want in a travel pillow.

Overall the best travel pillow

Trtl Travel Pillow, $44.99

trtl Pillow - Scientifically Proven Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow - Machine Washable

If you look up anything about travel pillows, chances are you’ll find the Trtl travel pillow as one of the (if not the) best options. As popular as it has become, there’s no reason to go sweet here and recommend anything else about it. So without further ado, here is the best overall travel pillow out there.

The Trtl is not like a normal travel pillow. It’s more like a premium scarf with added support designed specifically for sleeping on an airplane. It wraps around your neck like a scarf and has an internal structure that keeps your head almost upright while you sleep. This prevents neck pain, head nodding and uncomfortable sleeping positions. If you are just here to get the best travel pillow, this is the one you should consider first of all.

Best budget friendly travel pillow

World’s Best Microfiber Neck Pillow, $10.55

World's Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow, Anthracite

While the Trtl travel pillow above might be the best overall option, its $44.99 price tag is a bit steep for some travelers. If you’re on a slightly tighter budget and want to get something that will help you sleep without breaking the bank, you may need to opt for a standard U-shaped pillow. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The world’s best microfiber neck pillow (I promise that’s the manufacturer’s name) is a popular option from Amazon that can be yours for as little as ten bucks. You won’t find any frills or extra features with this pillow, but the soft microfiber fabric is comfortable to lay and will help you fall asleep faster. And for €10 you really can’t go wrong.

Best travel pillow for window sleepers

J-Pillow Travel Pillow, $34.95

J-Pillow chin support travel pillow

If you are seated in a window seat, you have the option to rest your head on the side of the plane for comfort. But if you’ve done it before, you know it’s not exactly conducive to sleep, and that’s where a window pillow comes in. When asked about it, the West Coast-based flight attendant said, “I actually like a window pillow…it hurts my head after a while if I put it on a hard surface.”

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I couldn’t agree more with her, and that’s why the J-Pillow travel pillow made this list. The unique design offers chin rest and a padded surface on the side of your head, allowing you to lean right against the side of the plane and feel as comfortable as if you were lying in bed.

Best travel pillow for different sleeping positions

Huzi Infinity Pillow, $39.90

Huzi Infinity Pillow - Home Travel Soft Neck Scarf Support Sleep

If you like to change your position while sleeping, you will have problems with most standard travel pillows. Many of them only offer one way to sleep as they are rigid and can only hold your head in one place. So if you want something that you can use to change things up a bit, then an infinity pillow is the way to go, like this option from Huzi.

These pillows get their name from their shape, which is basically a long, thin cylindrical pillow that mimics the shape of the infinity symbol. But don’t worry, the entire pillow is flexible so you can easily fold it into almost any shape or orientation you want.

So you can place it by the window, around your neck, on the tray table or any other way you like to sleep. It’s the most versatile travel pillow on the market, letting you sleep the way you want.

Best Cooling Travel Pillow

Cabeau Evolution Cooling Travel Pillow, $59.99

Cabeau Evolution Cooling Travel Pillow

If you’re anything like me then you prefer your pillows to be cool to the touch. Heck, even the pillows on my bed at home are memory foam cooling pads. So when it’s time to travel, a cooling memory foam travel pillow can make a world of difference. Especially since it seems like the AC has been flying more and more on these planes lately!

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Arguably the best option out there is the Cabeau Evolution Cooling Travel Pillow. While it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other pillows on this list, it’s worth every penny if you want cooling memory foam combined with breathable vents. It also offers more support than other pillows on the market thanks to the raised sides and flattened back, giving you more bang for your buck.

Best Inflatable Travel Pillow

Travelicons Inflatable Travel Pillow, $21.99

Travelicons Inflatable Travel Pillow

Last but not least, let’s talk about inflatable travel pillows. As the wording suggests, these are travel pillows that you inflate with air and then use like a regular pillow. The biggest concerns many people have with them are usually how cumbersome they are to use and how hygienic they are.

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