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Catch some Zzz's on these expert-loved (and award-winning!) travel pillows

Our award winner is also one of the most uniquely designed on our list.
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If you're anything like us, you're familiar with some of the stresses that come with traveling: arriving on time at the airport, checking in bags, and securing transport to and from the airport, for instance. But for some reason, we seem to skimp on comfort while traveling.

The most common result? Arriving at your destination groggy and with a sore neck — not an ideal way to begin a vacation. You may be familiar with those mediocre airport neck pillows that you end up begrudgingly buying, but did you know that there are actually great travel pillows that can help make your travel experience enjoyable?

Travel pillows come in a variety of shapes, but they're all designed to accommodate your upright position when traveling, according to Dr. Alex Dimitriu, founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine. Specifically, “the goal of any travel pillow is to stabilize the head. As in most cases, when the seat does not recline far enough, people's heads will tend to drop forward,” he explains.

That said, there's a wide range of styles on the market for a broad range of needs. For example, travel expert Misty Belles has an entire collection of travel pillows: This includes memory foam options, which she says is the most comfortable but also the bulkiest to transport, and an inflatable option, which she loves for its packability and ease of cleaning.

That's why we compiled our list based on a wide range of needs, paying attention to details like material, functionality and price. We also tried a bunch of top-rated options as part of the 2024 Shop TODAY Travel Gear Awards, crowning a couple picks that truly impressed us as winners. Read on or navigate using the links below to see the best travel pillows, based on expert guidance, extensive research and personal experience.

Award winner | Best budget | Best multipurpose | Best for neck support | Best silk | Best for long flights | Best for back support | Easiest to pack | Best mini | Best inflatable | Best set | Best splurge | What to look for | How we chose | Meet our experts

Best travel pillows

2024 Shop TODAY Travel Gear Awards travel pillow winner

Travelrest All-in-One Ultimate Travel Pillow

Award: Best travel pillow | Quality: 5/5 | Value: 3/5 | Satisfaction: 4/5 | Overall score: 4/5

If you want to arrive at your destination well-rested, a truly excellent travel pillow is a must-pack. This option quickly became our editors’ favorite because it can be worn across the chest and leaned on, which we found to be way more comfortable than other options that wrap around your neck or head. Plus, this one won’t take up much room in your bag (since it can be deflated), and it only took us about a minute to easily blow it up. Sweet dreams!

Best budget travel pillow

NapFun Neck Pillow for Traveling


Material: Polyester, spandex | Fill: Memory foam | Features: Flat back, breathable, concave design, carry bag | Care: Machine-washable removable cover

NapFun’s Neck Pillow is proof that you don’t need to break the bank to get some decent shut-eye on a flight or road trip. It features resilient memory foam that is equal parts comfortable and durable. Additionally, it includes a designated groove on both sides to place your chin to prevent your head from falling forward. Lastly, the back is intentionally thicker to provide added support for back sleepers, while a flat-back design helps to prevent your head from falling forward.

This affordable option also includes a travel bag that allows you to compress it when not in use.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: People with shorter necks may find that this option is too large for them.

Best multipurpose travel pillow

OstrichPillow Light Versatile Pillow


Material: Viscose, elastomer | Fill: Polystyrene microbeads | Features: Soft fabric, reversible, doubles as eye cover | Care: Spot clean

For an multipurpose pick, go for OstrichPillow’s Light Versatile Pillow, which enables you to not only comfort and support your neck but also cover your eyes. The microbead filling works in tandem with the integrated fit adjuster so you can easily tailor the pillow to your needs. You can even use it to block out light while cushioning your head against a window. Or, wear it around your neck like a more standard travel pillow.

It doesn’t hurt that this pick comes with a two-year warranty and 100-day return window.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: It cannot be machine-washed.

Best travel pillow for neck support

Coop Original Travel and Camp Pillow


Material: Polyester, viscose rayon, elastomer | Fill: Memory foam, microfiber | Features: Adjustable fill, water-resistant nylon stuff sack | Care: Machine-washable cover

For someone looking for added neck support when traveling, we highly recommend Coop’s Original Travel and Camp Pillow. It takes all of the qualities of the brand’s Original Pillow but adapts it for the traveler. It features a hypoallergenic fill of cross-cut memory foam and microfiber that provides excellent support. Additionally, you can add or remove the filling to create the ideal loft for your neck’s particular needs.

The pillow has both GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US certifications, and it also comes with a nylon sack that allows you to compress your pillow to half its size for ease of travel.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some people find this pillow to be a bit too small for them.

Best silk travel pillow

Portofino Jet Setter Travel Pillow


Material: Silk | Fill: Polyester | Features: Added protection of your skin, carry bag | Care: Hand-wash and line-dry pillowcase

For a bit of added luxury during your trip, Portofino’s Jet Setter Travel Pillow is the way to go. It's made with the highest-grade long-fiber mulberry silk, resulting in a pillow that has the perfect combo of shine, durability and thickness. And with a silk pillowcase, you can expect benefits like: reduced appearance of fine lines, skin hydration, skin texture and smoothness, and skin radiance.

This option also features a hook and loop fastener, as well as a reusable carry bag. Plus, it's available in four sleek and fun color options.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: More expensive than similar choices on our list and cannot be machine-washed.

Best travel pillow for long flights

Dot & Dot Bendable Memory Foam Travel Pillow


Material: Cotton | Fill: Memory foam | Features: Folds into different shapes, snap closure | Care: Machine-washable cover

On longer flights where you'll likely be adjusting your sleeping position more often, we recommend a versatile pillow that has multiple functions. Enter: Dot & Dot’s Bendable Memory Foam Travel Pillow. The twistable shape enables it to contour to your specific needs, and you can use it for neck, back, shoulder or cervical spine support. Additionally, the memory foam provides cushioning while relieving pressure points.

The casing on this pillow is made with cotton and should be breathable and machine-washable. While longer than other options, this one can be folded into a smaller shape and closed with a snap enclosure. This same feature allows you to secure it around your neck.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some people with longer necks found this option to be a bit too thin for them.

Best travel pillow for back support

Tuft & Needle Anywhere Travel Pillow


Material: Viscose, polyester | Fill: Adaptive foam | Features: Sewn on pouch to fold into | Care: Machine-washable cover and sack

Tuft & Needle’s travel pillow, which uses the brand's proprietary adaptive foam, is highly breathable, soft and supportive. Its material and shape is great for someone looking for added back support while traveling. The foam contours but doesn’t sink, and unlike the memory foam in other pillows, it doesn’t leave impressions. The result is a pillow that will keep your back comfortable without collapsing and will withstand the test of time.

This durable pillow also comes with a sewn-on pouch to fold into, as well as a metal carabiner. Additionally, the foam used is CertiPUR-US Certified to be free of harmful chemicals and gasses.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: May be a bit too small for some users; pillow itself is not machine washable

Easiest travel pillow to pack

Travelrest Nest The Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow


Material: Velour | Fill: Memory foam | Features: Stuff sack with drawstring bag | Care: Machine-washable cover

With its stuff sack and collapsible design that makes it a quarter of its size, Travelrest’s Nest pillow is a great choice for anyone looking to optimize space when on the go. Plus, the drawstring can attach to a luggage handle for added convenience. And in terms of comfort? This pillow uses a thermo-sensitive memory foam for what's said to be excellent shoulder, head and neck support. It also includes a non-slip backing to keep it in place.

Bonus? This pillow comes with a pair of ear plugs, and the velour cover can be removed and machine-washed.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: The manufacturers advise against storing it in the stuff sack when not traveling.

Best mini travel pillow

Avocado Organic Mini Pillow


Material: Cotton | Fill: Kapok, latex | Features: Resilient yet soft filling | Care: Machine-washable cover

Measuring at 20 x 12 inches, Avocado’s Organic Mini Pillow is just the ticket for someone looking for a downsized version of a standard pillow. While a slightly higher price point than similar counteparts, you'll get premium materials. Those include: GOTS-certified organic cotton that's soft and breathable; GOTS-certified organic kapok fiber, a soft, light and vegan alternative to down; and GOLS-certified organic latex, a material known for its support, while still providing resilience and durability.

This option also comes with an extra half-pound bag of fill, so you can get just the right amount of support for your needs.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: While packable, this doesn’t compress into any sort of carrying case.

Best inflatable standard travel pillow

Nemo Fillo Pillow


Material: Polyester micro-suede | Fill: Foam | Features: Adjustable air fill, collapses to size of russet potato | Care: Machine-washable cover

Nemo’s Fillo inflatable pillow is not only a breeze to transport — its inflatability also leaves it in your hands to decide how much support you want it to have. It weighs just 9 ounces; when deflated, it folds down to the size of a russet potato. Despite being inflatable, it still features a luxury foam inside that provides flexible comfort. It also has a baffled air cell that's designed to ensure it feels like a pillow, not a balloon.

We also appreciate that this product has a lifetime warranty and a machine-washable micro-suede cover.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some people note an off, gas-like odor upon purchase, but say it should dissipate.

Best travel pillow set

Slip Frequent Flyer Set


Material: Silk, cotton | Fill: Memory foam | Features: Carry bag, hook and loop fastener | Care: Hand washable

This travel set includes Slip’s silk travel pillow that we listed above, plus a pure silk eye mask and a pure silk face covering that's reusable and features a cotton liner. It’s perfect for the person who wants to get on the plane and just knock out for the entire flight — without having anything abrasive brushing against their face.

As listed above, these products should be hand-washed and not put through a machine.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: This bundle is more expensive than other options and doesn’t include a blanket.

Best splurge travel pillow

Quiet Mind The Original Weighted Pillow


Material: Polyester | Fill: Glass beads, polyurethane foam, polyester fiber pad | Features: Multiple weight choices | Care: Machine-washable cover

Quiet Mind’s Original Weighted Pillow takes the benefits of a weighted blanket in the form of a travel pillow. But unlike traditional options, this weighted pillow is said to help travelers manage stress levels — in fact, it's specifically designed to help children with ADHD and people with stress and anxiety, as well as children with autism, to help them cope.

The Original Weighted Pillow is available in 6-, 9- and 12-pound options to make sure you get the ideal weight for you. Plus, it's shipped free and has a 30-day return window, so you have a chance to see if it’s for you. Despite its higher price tag, the brand offers multiple payment plans.

SOMETHING TO NOTE: The heavier nature of this option makes it more cumbersome to travel with.

What to look for in a travel pillow

Comfort

Dimitriu recommends avoiding pillows that drop your head too far forward, or one that takes up too much space between your head and the seat. On the flip side, if you're side-sleeping, something that's too unsupportive could lead to neck pain and a lack of stability, he says. Instead, focus on your particular needs and dimensions; for maximum comfort, aim for something that doesn’t bend your neck and that keeps your head stable.

Type

The traditional travel pillow that comes to mind is a wraparound that supports the neck and ties in the front. However, many of these are too thick and encourage the head to fall forward. Other options include smaller versions of standard bed pillows that can be used to support your head, or to take pressure off of your lower back. More unique options, like Best Overall pick Trtl, enables you to lean over and side-sleep without overly stressing your neck.

It helps to look at a travel pillow as an investment in your health and wellness, according to Belles. “If you travel often and favor night flights, definitely look at buying a travel pillow that fits you. Sometimes the opening is too wide to be supportive, [and] some pillows can be too high or too thick, so you need to find one that fits.”

Material

Travel pillows can be made from a variety of materials, such as memory foam, latex and even beads. Memory foam options offer great contouring but can be bulky and tricky to travel with if not designed to collapse. Shredded foam options tend to be more easily compressible. Latex pillows tend to be better for people who need more support and want a natural alternative to foam.

Portability

Belles prefers inflatable options because they tend to be easier to pack than other types like memory foam. They also tend to be the easiest to adjust in terms of thickness. It is important to note, though, that there are some memory foam pillows that can actually be compressed and put into carrying cases for easy transport. Make sure to take a close look at a pillow's product description before purchasing.

Ease of use

You’ll want something that is intuitive and doesn’t require much adjustment. Certain products will require more work to get the perfect fit, such as those that offer removable fill, but should otherwise be fine if you don’t mind these extra steps.

Ease of cleaning

Many options on the market (and many on our list) come with removable covers that can be machine-washed for hassle-free cleaning. Other options will only be able to be spot cleaned or hand-washed, but we recommend going for pillows that can be washed in some capacity.


How we chose the best travel pillows

In order to find the best travel pillows on the market, Shop TODAY tapped sleep expert Dr. Alex Dimitriu and travel pro Misty Belles for their expert insights and guidance. From there, we researched extensively and even tried a handful of the products ourselves, taking special note of each one's comfort, support and convenience. We also took into account the number of verified star ratings and positive reviews, and items that are atop bestseller lists at online retailers.

We also sorted through hundreds of new launches, editor recommendations, trending products flooding our social media pages and tried and true products to curate a list of must-have travel items worth reviewing for our Shop TODAY Travel Gear Awards. We tried a selection of these products in our studios, putting them through practical experiments to see if they meet requirements when it comes to durability, function and quality for travel gear.

Meet our experts

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