When it comes to comfort while in transit, a reliable neck cushion can mean the difference between being well rested and frazzled (and we know which we’d rather be). Here are the travel neck pillows on the market that will give you the best chance at getting some shut-eye.
If U-shaped pillows give you a sore neck: Trtl Travel Pillow, $73 and up1/18
The Trtl bucks the C-curve pillow trend with its unique support brace, creating a discreet little shelf for the head, complete with an inbuilt soft, thin scarf that wraps loosely around the neck. Its efficiency lies in keeping the neck firmly in place — effectively eliminating head-lolling, hooray! — and its lightweight shape, making it super easy to stuff into a backpack.
If you want the top tier option: Cabeau Evolution S3 Memory Foam Neck Travel Pillow, $662/18
Meet the celebrity of the travel pillow world. The Cabeau has been beloved by travellers for years and its latest iteration, the Evolution S3, is just as impressive. The same supportive memory foam the pillow is known for is there, as is the secure system that clips near the chin which, thanks to its snug 360-degree fit, successfully saves passengers from the dreaded fall-forward syndrome.
If you have a little one in tow: Target kids travel pillow, $183/18
Any parent knows the best kid-friendly products are those that can make the drab fab — which is why Target’s genius pillow does double time for little ones. Not only is it soft, fleecy and squishy — perfect for tiny heads — the outer shell is completely removable and washable.
If you can’t resist a classic: Go Travel Ultimate Memory Foam Pillow, $564/18
Plush memory foam, a strong under-chin clip and a soft velour outer, this reliable pillow ticks all the boxes for the sleep-deprived traveller. Fitting snugly around the neck and chin, it’s like a little hug for the neck (and a relief for the head, as it has somewhere soft to land) when you drift off.
If you like to have options: Kathmandu 2-In-1 Travel Pillow, $405/18
Can’t decide between U-shape or rectangular? Switching between both shapes is easy with Kathmandu’s clever travel accessory – simply open the zip when the pillow is in U-shape and let the micro beads fill out into a rectangle, or push them back in to reform the curved shape.
If you want to get fancy: Pure Earth pillow, $666/18
Small, square and made with all-natural ingredients, this pillow leaves a smaller environmental footprint than most. The outer fabric is made of hemp and organic cotton, while the inside is filled with triple-cleaned buckwheat husk, making for a blissful sleep. It’s handy for lumbar support, too.
If you’re in the aisle/middle seat: BCOZZY, $1257/18
The unique design of the BCOZZY prevents your head from falling forward or tilting too much to the side, so there’s no risk of awkwardly leaning on the person next to you.
If you struggle to fall asleep: OstrichPillow Original Napping Pillow, $1798/18
There’s a lot that can keep you from sleeping on a plane, from the reading lights that blink on and off to the food trolley trundling by and the flicker of someone’s TV screen. Luckily, the unique wraparound Ostrichpillow Original Napping Pillow does a great job at eliminating most of it. Cocooned in the soft fleecy fabric that covers your entire head and neck, you’ll be able to fall asleep (even if you look a little odd).
If you prefer to sleep leaning forward: Dawntrees Inflatable Travel Pillow Neck Support, $229/18
Leaning forward onto the seat in front or onto a pillow on the tray table isn’t the most popular plane sleeping position, but it does work for some. If this is you, you’ll be more comfortable with this inflatable travel pillow, which has a hole for your face, like a massage table, and space for your arms underneath.
If you want to pretend you’re on a private plane: Shhh Silk Travel Size Silk Pillow, $7510/18
A beloved choice of celebrities Gisele Bündchen and Chrissy Teigen, Shhh Silk travel pillows are hypoallergenic and made of 100 per cent pure mulberry silk. Silk is softer on the skin than other materials, minimising dehydration, redness and sleep creases.
If you have limited space: Kathmandu Neck Air Travel Pillow, $4011/18
If you’re tight on space or want to pack as light as possible, go for an inflatable travel pillow. This one comes in at just 54 grams and shrinks down smaller than a fist when deflated. It has a brushed polyester base to prevent slipping, too.
If you don’t mind looking strange: Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow, $8012/18
An unusual but effective design, the pillow is worn across the upper body to provide more support. Easily inflatable with memory foam inserts, it’s as close to sleeping in a bed as you can get on a plane (without sitting in the pointy end) and helpfully shrinks down to almost nothing once deflated.
If you overheat on planes: Cabeau Evolution Cool 2.0 Pillow, $9013/18
Feeling overheated is bound to interfere with a solid sleep session. Enter the Cabeau Evolution Cool 2.0, which features ventilation on the sides to improve airflow and, hopefully, keep you cooler.
If you want privacy: Kathmandu Hooded Travel Pillow, $6014/18
With an attached microfleece hood, this clever design helps to partially conceal your face during the undignified act of sleeping in a small space surrounded by strangers. It also claims to reduce sound and light pollution.
If you tend to toss and turn: Muji Fitted Cotton Travel Neck Cushion, $3015/18
Some pillows don’t facilitate a frequent change in position or easily adjust with you as you try to do the same. This bead-filled cushion adjusts as quickly as you do, making shifting around to find a comfy position a breeze.
If you’re in the window seat: J-pillow Travel Pillow, $12216/18
You’ll need a particular type of support if you want to fall asleep while leaning against a window. J-pillow is the answer. This clever pillow essentially fills the gap that’s left when resting your head on the plane’s edge and supports the crook of your neck while also ensuring your head doesn’t dip forward courtesy of its built-in chin brace.
If you’re a fussy sleeper: Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Neck Pillow, $5917/18
The Travelrest Nest reaches higher than most neck pillows, providing more support and reducing head movement. It looks bulky, but the pillow compresses down to a quarter of its size once packed inside its pouch, unlike other hefty memory foam alternatives. The super-soft velour cover is also washable.