July 24, 2024

Advanced Ailment Care

Elevating Health Solutions

Best Travel Pillows of 2024

11 min read

$60 at Trtl

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Trtl Travel Pillow

Best adjustable travel pillow

$24 at Amazon

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AirComfy Ease Inflatable Travel Pillow

Best affordable travel pillow

$40 at Travelrest

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Travelrest: All-In-One Ultimate Travel Pillow

Best inflatable travel pillow

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Aly Lopez/CNET

Whether you’re traveling by plane, car or train, using a travel pillow that fits your needs and preferences has many benefits. Seats on planes and public transportation are not designed for every body type and height, so your head may not rest comfortably, especially if you’re in a middle seat. A travel pillow can support your neck and prevent your head from rolling around while trying to get some shut-eye on your journey. This is especially beneficial on longer trips to ensure proper posture and avoid neck strain or injury.

Travel pillows help prevent neck strain and they can improve your quality of sleep. Maintaining a proper sleep schedule is difficult while traveling, and avoiding jet lag is key if you’re voyaging across lengthy distances. Having a travel pillow that keeps you comfortable can make it easier to stay well-rested — which is essential for your overall health and well-being (and will make your trip more enjoyable). 

Picking the right travel pillow for you can be tricky, as there are many different shapes, sizes and functionalities to choose from. Don’t lose sleep over it, though — we’re here to help. Buckle up as we dive into the best travel pillows on the market.

How we tested the best travel pillows

Testing travel pillows on a road trip Testing travel pillows on a road trip

CNET sleep experts JD Christison and Aly Lopez tested over a dozen travel pillows.

Wesley Ott/CNET

CNET senior video producer and sleep expert JD Christison and I conducted hands-on — and heads-on — test of all the travel pillows in this best list, including our honorable mentions at the end. The characteristics we focused on included portability, adjustability, materials or construction, additional features (such as washability) and price

We unpacked the travel pillows, discussing our initial thoughts on each one. We then put them to the test by wearing them in the car while traveling on bumpy and windy roads to see if they were able to keep us comfortable and supported. We each took turns testing the pillows by sitting in various positions and wearing them in different ways as the pillow allowed.

After unpacking the pillows, forming our initial thoughts and opinions and testing them on a long car ride, JD and I also tested them individually over a few weeks while traveling in the car and on a few flights. Our sleep team will continue testing and reviewing these pillows and others in the next few months, so be sure to check back for updates.

Best overall travel pillow

After testing and reviewing over a dozen travel pillows, we chose Travelrest’s Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow as the best overall, thanks to its affordable pricing, quality materials and highly comfortable, traditional design. It has a machine-washable cover that’s easy to put on and take off — an important feature to look for if you want to keep your travel pillow fresh and clean.

Aly Lopez/CNET

JD and I immediately enjoyed the feel and fit of Travelrest’s Nest Ultimate Memory Foam, which offers a traditional travel pillow shape and design. Its high-quality memory foam molded nicely around our necks and shoulders, and the microfiber cover is super soft and cozy. It comfortably supported our heads without feeling overbearing.

This pillow’s textured backing helps hold it in place, which worked well in our testing. The Travelrest Nest pillow easily squishes down to a quarter of its full size to fit in the small carrying pouch. It’s easy to travel with and keep clean in the bag. The cover is completely removable and machine washable, another trait we recommend looking for in a travel pillow.

It has a velcro strap in the front, but this pillow is not as adjustable as some of the other pillows we tested. It’s a one-size-fits-all pillow, so it may be a little big for individuals with smaller frames. At $40, this is an average price point for travel pillows of this quality.

Pros:

  • Comfortable contouring memory foam
  • Machine washable microfiber cover
  • Non-slip material on the back

Cons:

  • Only one size
  • Not adjustable

Return policy: 30 days
Warranty: One-year limited warranty
Washability: Machine-washable cover

Aly Lopez/CNET

The Trtl Travel Pillow wins as the best adjustable pillow thanks to its unique ergonomic design, which differs from all the other brands we tested. While testing the Trtl pillow during a long car ride, I eventually forgot I was wearing it because it was so comfortable — which is saying a lot because I’m particular about anything that goes on or around my neck (you’ll see me wearing Trtl, but never a turtleneck). My head felt entirely supported without that claustrophobic feeling I’ve experienced with bulkier travel pillows. 

This is not your typical U-shaped travel pillow. The Trtl has an internal support piece that you place against your neck and jaw on one side, wrap the soft, hypoallergenic fabric like a scarf and secure it with the velcro piece. The velcro is impressively sticky, which I look for to ensure that the product will be long-lasting. The materials are lightweight and thin, folding up small and packing nicely into the waterproof bag. It’s also machine washable and fast-drying; all you have to do is remove the plastic insert first.

While JD and I are very different heights, he and I found the pillow adjustable enough to fit comfortably around our necks. However, Trtl also offers the Trtl Pillow Plus, which is height-adjustable with a twist toggle and designed specifically for various heights, from petite to tall. It also offers a cooling travel pillow with more breathable and thermoregulating materials for those who run hot. Retailing for $60, the Trtl Travel Pillows falls on the more expensive side, but we think it’s worth it.

Pros:

  • Super soft and lightweight
  • More discreet than other travel pillows
  • Super supportive

Cons:

  • Have to take it off and move it around to switch sides

Return policy: 100-day trial period
Warranty: N/A
Washability: Machine-washable fabric

Aly Lopez/CNET

AirComfy’s Ease Inflatable Travel Pillow is small but mighty — and it’s even smaller in its carrying bag, complete with a convenient carabiner to clip onto your luggage. It has a unique bowtie shape with an elastic band that allows you to attach it to the headrest on your seat to keep it in place. You can also place it behind your back if you need lumbar support.

At $24, this is one of the most affordable travel pillows we’ve seen with this level of quality and functionality. The size isn’t adjustable, but you can alter the firmness by adding more or less air as you blow it up, which only takes a few breaths to fill up completely. JD and I were surprised by how lightweight yet durable it felt, and we agreed that it seemed like it would hold up for many trips.

It’s worth noting that you may be limited in where you can use it. For example, if you’re in the middle seat on a flight, you’d only be able to put it behind you with your head upright (you wouldn’t be able to rest your head to the side). The soft velvet pillowcase is removable and machine-washable, which is a nice touch.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Stays in place on the headrest
  • Can also be used for lumbar support

Cons:

  • Won’t hold your neck perfectly in place

Return policy: 30 days
Warranty: N/A
Washability: Machine-washable pillowcase

Aly Lopez/CNET

The All-In-One Ultimate Travel Pillow by Travelrest was the best inflatable travel pillow we tested. Inflatable pillows have innate travel advantages, such as deflating and packing up super small. They’re also great for adjusting the firmness by controlling how much air you put into them.

The Travelrest All-In-One pillow has memory foam inserts, giving it an extra oomph of comfort and support. Since it goes around your body like a sling or messenger bag and rests on a shoulder, you don’t even need a seatback to use it. You can comfortably rest your head while sitting in the middle or aisle seats of an airplane without having anything to lean against.

One downside is having to blow it up on the plane while sitting in tight quarters with strangers and moving it around to the opposite shoulder if you want to rest your head the other way. On the plus side, it takes little effort to inflate — we found that approximately three or four easy puffs will do the trick. Its luxury velour cover is soft and comfortable, removable and machine washable. For $40, we think this is a great value. Travelrest has a similar version without the velvet cover for $10 less.

Pros:

  • Deflates and packs small 
  • Soft, velvety cover
  • Allows you to rest your head to the side

Cons:

  • You have to blow it up manually
  • Take out memory foam inserts to wash it

Return policy: 30 days
Warranty: One-year limited warranty
Washability: Machine-washable cover

Aly Lopez/CNET

Ostrichpillow’s Original Napping Pillow quickly became JD’s favorite. This unique pillow may make you look like an alien or a weird bug, but don’t fret — the sleep you get while wearing it is worth any strange looks you might receive in public. This fully encapsulating pillow blocks light and noise, creating a cozy cocoon for your whole head, unlike the other travel pillows we tested.

This pillow can be used to catch some Zzzs anytime and anywhere, not just while traveling. The materials are incredibly soft, and the inside has extra microbead filling — it’s truly the ideal environment for taking a nap. We did notice that it becomes a little warm after a while, so if you’re a naturally hot sleeper, this may not be the best pick for you.

Because of its bulkier design, it’s not as easily portable as other travel pillows. It’s also one-size-fits-all, so it’s not adjustable, but with the added hand and armholes at the top, you can comfortably wear this pillow while lying or sitting against any surface, from the airplane seat to napping on the airport floor. Some users even wear the Original Napping Pillow in bed at night to help them fall asleep faster.

Ostrichpillow offers various pillows and travel products, from the regular Go Neck Pillow (check it out in our honorable mentions below) to the Mini Handy Pillow to eye masks. It also offers a 100-day return period and a two-year warranty, some of the best company policies we’ve seen for travel pillows.

Pros:

  • Encompassing coziness for sleeping
  • Great return and warranty policies

Cons:

  • Does not pack small
  • Might get hot after a while
  • Expensive

Return policy: 100 days
Warranty: Two-year warranty
Washability: Spot clean and air dry

Dillon Lopez/CNET

No travel pillow says “I need space” like the Pluto Pod 2.0. You’ll look like an astronaut, and it’s worth it for the enhanced travel experience. Immediately, JD and I could tell it’s made with high-quality and durable materials, yet it still feels lightweight. After wearing it for a while, we were impressed by how breathable it is, even with the hood and eyemask fully drawn. You can block out the world entirely without feeling constricted or claustrophobic, which makes it especially ideal for long flights and trips. It’s like being inside a mini sensory deprivation tank, making sleeping easier while traveling. The hood is large and spacious enough to wear with over-the-ear headphones.

The neck pillow’s design was initially inspired by a neck brace, which Pluto dialed back to make it feel supportive and cushioning. The velcro strap around the neck pillow has a strong stick, and makes the pillow comfortably adjustable.

Pluto thought of everything with the Pod 2.0, and it’s obviously been constructed based on feedback from frequent flyers, flight attendants and sleep experts. It rolls up like a burrito and packs small. The outer surfaces are machine washable; all you have to do is remove the foam inside first. If you’re concerned about people staring at you while wearing this travel pillow, don’t be — they’re probably just jealous.

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Crafted with durable and breathable materials
  • Completely blocks out the world 
  • Great company policies  

Cons:

  • Currently sold out (shipping in July and September)
  • Expensive

Return policy: 125 days
Warranty: One-year warranty
Washability: Machine-washable cover

Aly Lopez/CNET

The Evolution Kids Neck Pillow from Cabeau is a cute and functional travel companion for kids. Whether your family is going on a short car ride or taking a long flight, this pillow can help your child feel cozy and comfortable while keeping their head and neck from bobbling or jostling around. The super-soft cover is made of RPET fabric, an eco-friendly recycled material that won’t irritate sensitive skin.

We loved Cabeau’s fun animal designs and color options, and it’s evident from reading the reviews that children love them, too. These pillows are recommended for children ages 3 and up.

Pros:

  • Multiple designs and color choices
  • Supportive yet breathable
  • Soft fabric won’t irritate skin
  • Budget-friendly

Cons:

Return policy: 30 days
Warranty: One-year limited warranty
Washability: Machine washable

Honorable mentions

The market is inundated with travel pillows of all shapes, sizes, functionalities and pricing, making it difficult to narrow down your options. We were strict with our testing and reviewing process to bring you a versatile list of the top travel pillows you can buy online. We want to shout out a handful of other travel pillows that impressed us while testing and deserve an honorable mention.

Ostrichpillow Go Neck pillow

If you’re looking for another memory foam travel pillow option, check out the Ostrichpillow Go Neck pillow. JD has used this pillow on many trips, and its shape and density have held well over time. The dense memory foam molds to your chin and neck, and there’s a velcro strap for adjusting and holding the pillow in place. It’s surprisingly lightweight and compacts easily into the small carrying pouch.

Cabeau Evolution S3 TNE Neck Pillow

The Cabeau Evolution S3 TNE Neck Pillow has contouring memory foam and raised sides that fully support your neck, keeping your mouth closed and preventing your head from bobbling forward. If you’re looking for a travel pillow that will keep your head and jaw feeling secure and locked in place, this is the one for you. It also comes in a variety of fun and bright colors.

Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam

The Twist Memory Foam pillow by Dot&Dot has a unique, twistable design that allows you to shape it to support any position for getting some sleep while traveling. The soft cotton cover is machine washable. JD and I both mentioned that we wished it was a little longer to make it even more versatile. But for $25, it’s a great value.

A travel pillow can provide support and comfort for your head and neck, which is important for long car rides or flights to prevent straining, stiffness and soreness. Using a travel pillow to help you sleep comfortably can lessen the effects of jet lag and ultimately help you arrive at your destination in better shape.

A quality travel pillow typically costs between $30 and $60, depending on the brand, materials and additional features such as adjustable straps or washability. If you travel frequently or have a big trip coming up, investing in a quality travel pillow can be worth it. There are plenty of great affordable travel pillows priced around $15-$20 and more premium options costing up to $150-$200. Ultimately, it comes down to your budget and the features you’re looking for.

Many travel pillows have removable, machine-washable covers, as brands recognize the importance of keeping your pillow fresh and clean for trips. Always check the company’s care instructions before throwing your travel pillow in the washer or dryer (especially since most travel pillow covers require washing in cold water and air drying).

Have a trip coming up? Learn about the best headphones for traveling and tips for avoiding jet lag.


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