Off on holiday and looking for the best travel pillow for your journey? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy recommends that you always travel with a towel; we agree, but we'd also add a handy travel neck pillow to your hand-luggage must-haves. (To see what other items we recommend for your hand luggage, be sure to take a look at our holiday checklist.) A good travel pillow can make the difference between a decent nap and an uncomfortable, sleepless flight; they're also useful on long train journeys; and we've slept in more than one hotel room where an inflatable pillow proved more restful than the lumpy sacks provided with the bedding. To help you sleep like a baby on your next long-haul flight, we've taken a look at some of the best travel pillows now on the market.
The Travelrest inflatable travel pillow has an unusual, long-line design that sits along the side of your body to support your whole neck and torso. The lightweight pillow can be inflated with just a few puffs through the wide air valve, and rolls up very neatly when not in use. There's a handy strap with a popper to attach the pillow to your luggage - or to your chair to keep the pillow in place while you doze. The recommended price is over £30, but we've found the Travelrest on sale for closer to £20 online.
Best for: Regular long-haul or business travellers who need total body support in order to ensure a good in-flight sleep and who don't mind the higher than usual price tag. RRP £33.55.Aidapt Memory Foam Travel Pillow
This is a dense, firm memory foam travel pillow that moulds to the shape of your neck and shoulders using memory foam (a popular ingredient in full-size pillows and mattresses for its comfort and support). The cushion has a removable soft velour cover which is cosy and warm to the touch - perfect to help you nod off on long journeys, and easy to launder when you get home. The one drawback is that the Aidapt cushion is less compact than some of the other travel pillows in our roundup, meaning it will make quite a dent in your hand luggage.
Best for: a really comfortable trip - as long as you don't mind cramming a fair-sized object into your cabin bag. RRP £9.99.
If you're travelling with small people, you'll need a petite pillow to tuck under tiny heads. Go, the travel accessories specialist, has a great mini foam kids travel pillow in a bright and friendly design that's perfect to slip into the Trunki; the colourful fleecy cover is machine washable, so no matter what your little traveller spills or drools onto it during transit, it'll be be bright and fresh again for the next trip.
Best for: Family travel (and for snuggling up with at bedtime). RRP £4.99.
The Snugpak Butterfly is a super-light, super-compact, self-inflating pillow that will fit easily into any hand luggage, handbag or even a jacket pocket. Although it's small in size the clever two-winged butterfly design is made to support both sides of the head equally, so you can use the Butterfly as a pillow substitute throughout your holiday as well as on the plane. The self-inflating valve is a nifty trick too - simply pull the Butterfly from its carry-bag and it will pump itself up in seconds; deflating is also a quick and simple affair.
Best for: Travellers who like to pack light; campers; and backpackers in need of a spare pillow. RRP £18.95.
The award-winning J-pillow was designed by former Virgin Atlantic stewardess Gemma Jensen to provide support for neck, chin and the side of the head, reflecting the way most people sleep on planes. The J-shaped pillow props you up in your seat and stops your chin from nodding forwards when you doze off, preventing neck strain and helping you sleep more comfortably. When not in use, the plush-covered pillow rolls up into a neat ball for packing; thereâs also an inflatable version if you like to travel light.
Best for: The J-pillow is particularly useful for anyone with neck and shoulder problems, but is a good investment for all long-haul travellers. An all-around great choice for your neck pillow travel needs. RRP £39.95.
Even if you're not travelling first class, add a little luxury to your voyage with this super-soft, cashmere and silk blend knitted pillow cover. The pillow itself isn't anything to write home about, but the cover will make the toughest journey feel indulgent.
Best for: those who like to travel in style. RRP £80.
If you found this post on our favourite travel pillows helpful, you may want to read more of our Before You Go articles. Also check out our travel blog for additional inspiration and travel tips to make your holidays hassle-free!
Written by Lise Smith, a former contributor to Lonely Planet's India guidebook - she's seen her fair share of hotel rooms (both grotty and glamorous!). She learned to walk in a hotel corridor in Tunisia, and at the age of three had been on more aeroplanes than buses. Lise writes for a number of local news, technology and arts publications.Top