I would consider myself a fairly experienced traveler and have had enough opportunities to and sleep on a plane. Sleeping can be a great way to make the time pass on a long flight, and sometimes it’s a necessity so you can arrive at your destination with your mind still functioning.
Finding the right travel pillow for long flights can make a real difference in enjoying your flight. I’ve tested five of them for you to help make sure you catch some zzz’s on your next long haul. Affiliate links are included in this post so I might make a commission if you purchase using my link.
This is my favorite travel pillow and the one I pack all the time now. I love its unique design and how it actually supports my head so I can sleep. I used to not be able to fall asleep on a plane, but this pillow has changed that.
It’s made from fleece with a plastic frame wrapped inside. You situate the frame to curve against your neck and then wrap the fleece “tail” around your neck and then it fastens with Velcro. Your head can then lean against/onto the frame support and sleep. At least I’m able to sleep.
- Solid frame that supports your head to the side.
- Easy to pack since it’s mostly flat with only a slight curve.
- Not washable.
- One size fits all (although there is a new model that launched on Kickstarter that has an adjustable neck frame).
My podcast partner, Tamara, loves this pillow. Because of her recommendation, I decided to give it a try. It’s fairly bulky however it comes with a small pouch, so you roll the pillow up and store it in the pouch that also has a clip making it easy to clip onto your carry-on bag.The sides of the pillow have an open ventilation channel which works well for travelers who run hot or don’t want a fleece material on their skin. I personally didn’t’ love the fit of the Cabeau and felt it didn’t give me the same kind of support I get with the Trtl.
- Open sides for ventilation.
- Handy carrying case compresses pillow to half-size for storage and clipping on carry-on bags.
- High price point at $59.
- Not washable.
- Might not be great for narrow/slender necks.
This is a unique idea to the traditional travel pillow. It’s a slender wrap-around style with a slight point towards the chin area. You wrap the pillow around your neck and layer the two ends on top of each other to create height for your head to rest on. I was actually impressed with how this is really a different experience than a basic travel pillow.The double-stacked pillow does a pretty good job of providing a firm resting ledge for your chin or jaw and it stays in place pretty well. This is also the one pillow that comes in kid sizes, great for family travelers!
- Good support.
- Kid and adult sizes.
- Slim back of the neck section, so your head isn’t pushed forward.
- Bulky – comes with a strap for clipping on but otherwise, it takes up a lot of space.
Coming in as the least expensive and the smallest, the Voyage pillow is perfect for light packers who just want a small cushion. If you’re a window seat fan, this pillow would be great for leaning against the side of the plane to go to sleep. Or perhaps if you lay forward onto your tray table this would help cushion your head for a bent-over sleeping position.
Other than those instances I don’t feel it works as a pillow since it doesn’t support your head in order to sleep in an upright, seated position.
- Cheapest option at $7.
- Extremely small measuring about 9” x 5”.
- No support for upright sleeping.
This was my go-to travel pillow until I found the trtl. I like that I could clip it so it wouldn’t fall off and I could shove it around to try and create support. However, as I said at the opening, I never slept well on planes when I used this pillow.I love that it’s filled with microbeads, so it doesn’t push my head forward and does allow for some malleability. But essentially the neck section is too large to provide any real support for sleeping.
The one positive for this pillow that keeps it in our closet is that it can transform into a rectangular shaped pillow via a clever zipper inside-out design. My girls appreciate being able to make it feel like a regular pillow. Works great if you want to lay your head in a lap or cuddle into the window-side of the plane.
- Transforms to be rectangular or “C” shaped.
- Microbeads allow for malleability.
- Available in many Eddie Bauer stores/retailers (in case you can’t wait for shipping).
- Doesn’t offer great support as a neck pillow.
- Not washable.
- Not on Amazon Prime.
Now you’re ready for your next long haul flight. After testing these five travel pillows I’m still convinced that the Trtl is the best one for me. Do you have a favorite travel pillow I should try?