The Best Travel Pillows of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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Best Travel Pillows

TripSavvy / Alessandra Amodio

TripSaavy's Pick

Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow came out on top with a super supportive memory foam core, raised sides to keep your head upright, a machine-washable cover, a convenient carrying case it packs down small into, and it’s overall quite affordable. The J-Pillow Chin Supporting Travel Pillow was a close runner-up. And the Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow was our best budget pick.

Comfort is key when traveling, whether by car, train, bus, or airplane. And not just for your happiness—sitting or sleeping for hours on end can put your cervical spine (C-spine) in an unnatural position as your head bends downward to read, sways back to sleep on a headrest, or falls to the side to doze off against a window.

A travel pillow can help provide not just cushion and comfort to make falling asleep in transit easier, support may also your C-spine and help keep you pain-free on long travels. There are two main kinds of travel pillows: A donut or C-shape pillow and a rectangular pillow that mimics the type you use in bed.

All travel pillows should provide support, comfort, and be able to pack down small enough to carry with you through an airport or on a train. To see what products were up to par, we had a group of testers try 21 travel pillows over four weeks as they spent time on planes, trains, and cars. They looked for comfort, quality, portability, durability, and overall value.

We found ten travel pillows that are worth your money and may be more comfortable or ideal for different needs. Here are the best travel pillows we tested.

Best Overall

Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow

5
Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Memory foam core is super supportive

  • Raised sides to keep head upright

  • Supports natural C-Spine Shape

  • Machine-washable cover

  • Easy to attach to carry on

What We Don't Like
  • Not as supportive for taller people

  • Material runs warm

  • Doesn’t pack down

The Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow has a responsive memory foam core, which our tester determined is what makes this neck pillow rise above the rest: Whether it's propping your head up while sleeping or supporting your neck while watching a movie, it feels like a cloud of softness and comfort that conforms to support your shape. 

The design is your traditional C-shape, but with raised sides to keep your neck up and a flattened rear to not push your C-spine forward. Our tester reports the memory foam feels neither excessively firm nor too soft but worked well to hold their head up comfortably when sleeping. Moreover, it bounced back to its original shape after being used for two-plus hours.

The pillow doesn't deflate, but it has a clasp that keeps it from slipping around your neck and makes it easy to latch the pillow onto your bag when not in use. It comes with a soft cover that's removable and machine washable. Most of all, it's affordable at just $30 and way better designed than most competitors at the same price point.

Price at time of publish: $30

Dimensions: 9.5 x 10 x 5 inches | Weight: 11.6 ounces | Material: Polyurethane inner; velour cover

Cabeau Evolution Classic travel pillow

TripSavvy / Daniela Galvez

Best Overall, Runner-Up

J-Pillow Chin-Supporting Neck Pillow

5
J-Pillow Chin-Supporting Neck Pillow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Super comfortable with a memory foam core

  • Packs down (carrying case included)

  • Intuitive to use

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t secure in place to prevent slippage

  • Less intuitive for the middle seat on a plane

This neck pillow has a unique J-shape design meant to support your head and neck in their natural, healthy position while leaning against a window or seat in a car, bus, or plane. Our tester found it super supportive while napping on a 19+ hour car trip and quite intuitive to use—even their 6-year-old cousin figured out immediately how to position this pillow.

The J-Pillow is lightweight, easy to move around, soft, and plush. It features memory foam, which is why it feels so supportive, and it has a machine washable cuddly-soft cover. The pillow is also quite durable and maintains its shape no matter the damage—our tester squished it under all the luggage in the trunk, and it bounced right back to shape and didn't get any snags. 

Bonus: It comes with a stuff bag that can be tied around luggage, making the awkward shape much easier to travel with.

Price at time of publish: $50

Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 13 inches | Weight: 8.16 ounces | Material: Core: Memory foam; cover: polyester blend

J-Pillow Chin Support Travel Pillow

TripSavvy / Jennifer May

Best Budget

Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow

4.8
Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Comfortable and supportive for the price

  • Easy to travel with

  • Two fabric options for hot/cold

What We Don't Like
  • It might not be supportive enough for some

  • The cover isn’t removable or washable

During testing, we found this classic donut-shaped neck pillow comfortable, supportive, lightweight, and soft but sturdy. The core has millions of tiny microbeads and is covered with super soft plush fabric on one side and cooling spandex on the other, depending on what you need most during your travels. 

The pillow features a snap closure in front that helps keep your neck from falling forward and makes the pillow easy to attach to your bag for transport. Our tester specifically liked this pillow for neck support while switching between napping and reading or using a computer on long flights or train rides. And despite being just $20, it also felt very high quality. 

While it didn't tear or snag during traveling for our tester, it’s worth noting that if you were to catch this on a door or snag it somehow, the millions of microbeads in the filling would come pouring out. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 4 inches | Weight: 7 ounces | Material: Polyester & Polyester Blend

Best Value

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

4.8
Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

REI

What We Like
  • Recycled materials

  • Flat design like a bed pillow

  • Versatile use

What We Don't Like
  • It doesn’t naturally support the curvature of the neck

  • It might not pack down small enough for some travelers

The Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow is ideal if you value having something akin to an actual pillow but small enough for traveling. The traditional rectangle is filled with upcycled chunks of foam from excess camping sleeping pad material, with a soft insulation layer on top to keep the surface from feeling lumpy. You can then pull the drawcord string to cinch the pillow to your desired firmness.

Our tester found this pillow incredibly comfortable, with a real-pillow feel that was ideal for everything from flights to camping to sleeping at home. They liked the soft and breathable exterior, which was ideal for warm weather and hot plane rides. The pillow packs down into itself, and the drawcord used to cinch it down can be used to tie the pillow onto a suitcase or backpack.

Price at time of publish: $37

Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 5 inches (small size) | Weight: 7 ounces (small size) | Material: Core: polyester fibers, Cover: polyester

Best Splurge

Ostrich Pillow Go Neck Pillow

5
Ostrich Pillow Go Neck Pillow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Incredibly comfortable for long flights

  • Packs down small

What We Don't Like
  • Velcro might catch on clothes or hair if not fully latched

  • Runs warm

The Ostrich pillow is a simple and sleek design, with one sleeve of high-density memory foam that wraps around your neck with high sides to rest your cheek on and velcro security in front. Our testers found this design extremely comfortable, "to the point that it feels like wrapping a marshmallow around your neck or sleeping on a cloud." It was supportive for the neck, chin, and head while sitting in the middle seat and even kept their neck and back pain-free on a long international flight.

The memory foam is incredibly soft and plush, and the design is very accommodating among different-sized people who tested it. This pillow also has a more appealing, modern design that looks more refined while wearing. Our tester, who is already a hot sleeper, did report the pillow was a little warm on a long international flight, but it wasn't uncomfortable.

What's more, it packs down super small, compressing to 60 percent of its size into an included stuff bag, which makes it easy to stash in your carry-on.

Price at time of publish: $60

Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 2.7 inches | Weight: 14.8 ounces | Material: Core: Memory foam, Cover: Viscosa

Ostrich Travel Pillow

Tripsavvy / Susan Brickell

Best Cooling

Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow

4.7
Cabeau Evolution Cool Pillow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Cooling

  • Firm and supportive design

  • Packs down small

What We Don't Like
  • It may be too firm for some

The Cabeau Evolution Neck Pillow follows a C-shape design but with one significant difference: The top and bottom inch have memory foam for optimal neck support, but the middle is made with mesh vents to keep you cool.

Our testing found this design to be super supportive and firm without being too hard and that the airy, cooling design worked as promised. The curved sections on each side are also designed to wear over-the-ear headphones comfortably. It's lightweight and packs into a circular carrying case that's easy to attach to your luggage. And the pillow maintains its shape even after being rolled and unrolled over and over. 

Our tester noted that even though this pillow runs nearly $60, it's worth it if you need firm support to sleep comfortably while traveling, especially in a middle seat.

Price at time of publish: $80

Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 5 inches | Weight: 12.7 ounces | Material: Memory foam

Best Antimicrobial

Away The Travel Neck Pillow

4.7
Away The Travel Neck Pillow

Away

What We Like
  • Antimicrobial

  • Simple design

  • Adjustable tightness

  • Plush feel

What We Don't Like
  • It may not be firm enough for some

From beloved travel brand Away, this neck pillow is a simple C-shape that clasps in front where you can then cinch it to the perfect stay-put tightness. Our tester noted that the quilted padding outer is soft and nice to have against your skin, and the foam core makes for a cushier pillow, which feels exceptionally soft and plush but is definitely not ideal for those who like really firm support. 

The fabric also uses 37.5 thermoregulating technology, which leans on active particles to help cool you down or warm you up depending on what temperature you're running. Most of all, this neck pillow has an antimicrobial finish to keep the outer layer sanitary when traveling, and it folds down into an antimicrobial pouch for safe storage.

Price at time of publish: $55

Dimensions: 23.5 x 5 x 3.75 inches | Weight: 14.4 ounces | Material: 54 percent Polyester, 36 percent Cocona 37.5 Polyester

Best Neck Pillow

Cushion Lab Ergonomic Travel Neck Pillow

4.8
Cushion Lab Ergonomic Travel Neck Pillow

Brookstone

What We Like
  • Very supportive for neck pain

  • Firm but soft

  • Machine-washable cover

  • Versatile design

  • Temperature regulating

What We Don't Like
  • It may be unnecessarily supportive for some 

One of the most essential features of a neck pillow is that the design supports the natural curvature of your upper spine, keeping your head and neck in line not to cause pain. The Cushion Lab Neck Pillow is ergonomically designed to keep everything in line and uses proprietary extra-dense memory foam for soft support. It's raised and lowered at different points to provide bolstering, contouring, or cushioning and has a buckle closure so you can spin it around easily to provide support where you need it, depending on your sleep position while traveling.

Our tester noted that this pillow feels larger than others around your neck and almost like a neck brace—but the snugness isn't uncomfortable; it just takes a little adjusting. Overall, they reported that their neck felt well-supported in this pillow and could sleep comfortably while traveling without neck pain. The 100 percent recycled polyester rayon cover is machine-washable and wicks moisture away well. Testing revealed it to regulate temperature well, never becoming too hot.

Price at time of publish: $55

Dimensions: 9 x 10 x 5 inches | Weight: 12.8 ounces | Material: Core: Memory foam; cover: recycled polyester rayon

Cushion Lab Ergonomic Travel Pillow

TripSavvy / Alessandra Amodio

Best Memory Foam

Aeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow

4.8
Aeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Amazon

What We Like
  • Super supportive

  • Folds down small

  • The carrying case has a pocket for included eye mask and earplugs

What We Don't Like
  • It can be hard to get into the carrying case

Made from ultra-supportive and contouring memory foam, it's no surprise our tester found the Aeris Travel Pillow to be super firm and have excellent neck support. The memory foam is stiffer but still feels soft and comfortable to sink into. The sides come up high to provide an excellent chin rest when sleeping, and our tester loved how they could lean back in the car or plane, and the back of their neck wasn't against the headrest, which made for a comfortable nap. This neck pillow has a drawstring cord to make the pillow secure on any size neck.

The cotton cover is removable and machine washable. The whole pillow folds down small into a carrying case, which has the added feature of a side pocket to hold the included earplugs and eye mask.

Price at time of publish: $26

Dimensions: 12.8 x 11.73 x 5.16 inches | Weight: 12.8 ounces | Material: Core: Memory foam Cover: 80 percent Velour and 20 percent Polyester

Aeris Memory Foam Travel Pillow

TripSavvy / Anna Popp

Best Luxury

Avocado Organic Mini Pillow

Avocado Organic Mini Pillow

Avocado

What We Like
  • As comfortable as a bed pillow

  • Adjustable fill

  • It can also use at home as a lumbar or under-the-knees pillow for more value

  • Climate Neutral certified

What We Don't Like
  • Too big to use in a middle or aisle seat on a plane

  • Pillowcase not included

  • It doesn’t compact down

  • Expensive

If you love nice, lush bedding, this Avocado Organic Mini Pillow is what you want to travel with. 

For starters, it's hypoallergenic, biodegradable, non-toxic, and pesticide-free. It's filled with organic-certified latex and kapok fiber fill, which makes for a soft but supportive headrest in the backseat of a car or against an airplane window. Our tester loved that you could add or remove fill to change the loft based on your preference. It has a 100 percent organic cotton outer that's soft on its own, plus it's breathable and moisture-wicking, so heat doesn't build up under your head. But you'll definitely want a pillowcase for more hygienic traveling (and we wish that was already included for the price).

This bag is ideal for car or bus travel. It doesn't compress down, so while the 20 by 12-inch size is small enough to carry through an airport and can tuck between a shoulder bag's top zipper and handles, this could be a deal breaker depending on how you travel. Also, this pillow doesn't work very well if you're in the aisle or middle seat on a plane (unless you can sleep on the shoulder of the person next to you). 

However, it is a lovely item to bring along on a trip if you have the carrying capacity that'll provide more comfort and versatility, in most cases, than a neck pillow.

Price at time of publish: $64

Dimensions: 20 x 12 inches | Weight: 0.9 pounds | Material: 100 percent GOTS organic-certified cotton cover; Fill made from 100 percent GOLS organic-certified latex shreds and 100 percent natural and GOTS organic-certified Kapok fiber

Avocado Organic Mini Pillow

TripSavvy / Rachael Schultz

Other Travel Pillows We Tested

Trtl Pillow ($60): For the price, this travel pillow didn't provide nearly enough neck support and not only felt flimsy but actually caused our tester pain during their 3.5-hour flight. Putting the wrap on was incredibly awkward, and the fleece felt too stuffy riding in a car.

BCozzy Neck Pillow ($60): This pillow has a unique wrap-around design intended to create a double layer of cushion. However, it was too thick during testing to double up comfortably. It was definitely durable and well-made, but not comfortable enough to recommend purchasing.

Ostrich Pillow Light Versatile ($45): This pillow has comfortable, t-shirt-like fabric outside and a supportive, memory foam feel when you press on it. But the circular nature of the design just didn't work in testing to support the neck and head in a way that was also comfortable to sleep.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Memory Foam Travel Pillow ($40): This memory foam pillow is supportive and soft, and it features mesh around the neck, so it keeps you cool and suede around the face to keep you cozy. Overall, this pillow is well-made, thoughtfully designed, and comfortable for our tester to nap with on an 11-hour flight. It didn't fit into any single best category, but we recommend it nonetheless.

Cabeau Evolution S3 travel pillow

TripSavvy / Erin Johnson

Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow ($30): This pillow's main selling point is it rolls down super small for packability. But outside of that, our tester found little reason to buy it. It wasn't comfortable to sit or sleep with and caused them neck pain, the material was too plastic-ey, and it's overall just confusing to use.

MLVOC Travel Neck Pillow Set ($30): Our testing found this travel pillow to be too stiff to find a comfortable fit, not providing support to the head and neck and allowing the head to bob from side to side. It also requires effort to stuff into the travel bag.

Samsonite Microbead 3-in-1 Neck Travel Pillow ($20): This pillow features tiny beads, so it's not stiff like memory foam but didn't provide much support for our tester unless their head was against a window. There isn't much support on the back of the neck, either. Overall, you can snag something more supportive for the price.

Samsonite Microbead Travel Pillow

TripSavvy / Anna Popp

AirComfy Daydreamer Inflatable Neck Travel Pillow ($24): This inflatable travel pillow isn't very comfortable once filled with air and was too small to fit in the crook of our tester's neck comfortably. The surface gets dirty quickly, and the plastic material was uncomfortable against the face. In short: Skip.

Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Pillow ($28): This pillow has a soft, velvety cover and feels very firm with its memory foam core. Our tester noted it might be too firm for some, but they found it comfortable around the neck or leaning on for a window. For the price, it's well-made and a solid choice.

Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow ($25): Filled with memory foam, this pillow has certain joints that twist into a shape of your comfort. Our tester found it to be thick and comfortable, but the bending nature tends to straighten slowly over time, so you'll have to readjust the position regularly.

Hest Pillow ($80): This pillow packs down super small and then unfolds to be filled with shredded memory foam and polyester. Zippered access lets you adjust the loft to what you prefer, and our tester found it to be super comfortable and plush to sleep on. It's great for car trips and excellent for a full-sized pillow versus a neck pillow, but we wish it came with a way to attach to luggage for air travel and that it was a bit lighter.

Hest Travel Pillow

TripSavvy / Alessandra Amodio

How We Tested

To determine the best travel pillows, our group of testers considered the following:

  • How easy the pillow was to set up and use out of the box
  • How the material felt to touch
  • How durable was the material against wear-and-tear
  • How easy it is to clean

Our testers then put each pillow through a series of tests on a two-plus hour plane, train, bus, or car ride. Here, they considered the following:

  • How supportive it is
  • How comfortable it is
  • How the fabric felt
  • How their neck felt
  • If any exceptional features made traveling more comfortable
  • How easy was it to pack or compress

What to Look For

Price

You can find a comfortable neck pillow for just $20, but depending on your physiology, needs, and preferences, a pillow in the $40 to 60 range might be more comfortable. Price should correlate with design and features; a more expensive pillow should have a more streamlined design and features that make it worth more money via better comfort, packability, and durability.

Style

Most travel pillows come in one of two styles: Some kind of donut or C-shaped neck pillow and a rectangular, small pillow that looks like what you use on your bed. 

A well-designed donut or C-shaped pillow is ideal for keeping your spine aligned and preventing your head from jutting forward or falling back as you sit and sleep for hours while traveling. It should have support on all sides to keep your head from bobbing or your chin from falling. This style of pillows is ideal if you spend most of your travel time sitting up, whether working on a computer or trying to sleep in a middle seat (versus a window).

A rectangular pillow is ideal if you’re lying down in a car, train, or airplane or if your head will be resting against a window. It’s also ideal if you want one item to do double duty, as you can use this travel pillow at home for a lumbar pillow or toddler pillow or while camping. A rectangular pillow should feature materials that support your head and neck and ideally have a customizable loft so you can adjust how thick or thin it depends on your sleep style to maintain that spinal alignment between your head and neck.

Fit

As we’ve said, a travel pillow’s primary purpose is to keep you comfortable and pain-free while in transit, which means it needs to be able to keep your head and neck in spinal alignment. That means the best travel pillow will be adjustable since some people need it tighter, looser, thicker, or thinner.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I clean my travel pillow?

    Your travel pillow should have a machine-washable cover that you can remove and clean like any sheet. Let the cover air dry to prevent any shrinkage.

  • Do travel pillows actually make sleeping easier?

    Travel pillows make sleeping more comfortable, usually making sleeping easier. A good travel pillow should provide support for your head and neck in a way that maintains cervical spinal alignment. When you’re out of alignment and your head is jutting forward, back, or to one side, this causes neck, shoulder, and back pain and makes it very uncomfortable to sleep (not to mention unhealthy for your musculature). 

Why Trust TripSavvy

Rachael Schultz is a fitness and outdoor product journalist based in Carbondale, Colorado. Growing up in and around cities on the East Coast, she wasn't taught how to backpack or ski as a kid, which means that as she moved West and her passion for the outdoors grew in adulthood, so did her research skills around what exactly one needed to buy to get outside. Now an avid mountain biker, skier, hiker, and camper, she's endlessly fascinated by and knowledgeable about the nuances of materials, performance, and convenience of outdoor gear. She's lucky enough to test everything from women's ski bibs to ultralight backpacking gear to camping cocktail kits. Rachael is passionate about making the outdoors just as accessible to those who haven't spent much time under the stars as those who grew up enjoying it, and that includes having the right gear to stay safe, happy, and motivated to head out again as soon as possible.

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