A Comprehensive Guide To Choosing The Best Travel Pillow

When travelling long distances, you would want to have a comfortable experience as you enjoy the new surroundings. Whether you’re hitting the road or taking a flight, you can’t afford to compromise on comfort. There are many factors that can determine this aspect of your journey, one of which is the quality of the seats.

However, even with the best seats, you might still need something to help you rest and catch some sleep in an otherwise awkward position. This is where travel pillows come in handy as they are designed to support your neck and the lower back. 

But with many brands in the market, it can be quite challenging to find the perfect travel pillow for you. Keep in mind that these products are created from different materials and in varying designs to meet certain needs. In fact, there are those designed specifically for kids. Watch the following video to learn more on the same:

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With that said, this article aims to cover the most important factors to consider when shopping for a travel pillow.

  • Decide on the type of pillow 

As mentioned, the market is filled with many brands of travel pillows. Inasmuch as this gives you a variety of options, it can be quite intimidating to choose the best out of the lot. Therefore, before you go shopping, it’s important that you research and learn about all available types of travel pillows to simplify your selection process. Here’s a list of types of pillows to choose from:

  •  Inflatable travel pillows

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These pillows are typically U-shaped and can be inflated to a desired size and firmness. This customization feature allows you to adjust the product to fit your needs whenever you’re traveling.

You can also deflate and fold these pillows after use for easier packing. Their compact and lightweight size make them portable, which means you won’t have to sacrifice other belongings to create space for this item.

  • Microbead travel pillows

Microbead travel pillows, on the other hand, use polystyrene beads as their fillings. These microbeads allow the pillow to change shape and provide neck support and comfort to the user. Unfortunately, they are considered the least portable in the market. As such, they are not ideal for you if you’re a light packer.

  • Memory foam travel pillows

Do you enjoy firm pillows? Memory foam products are designed to offer that and much more. Apart from being the firmest travel pillows in the market, they also provide consistent support for your neck. This type of pillow is the most chosen by travelers because of its portability and the comfort it offers. (2)

Whether you are a first-time buyer or a seasonal pillow user, it’s imperative that you know these types and distinguish their features. This way, you’ll be able to make the right decision from the word go. 


  • Neck support and comfort

From the pillows discussed earlier, you can see that almost all provide comfort in one way or another. However, not everyone sleeps or rests in one given position when traveling. There’s a posture that fits you best and gives you the comfort needed to enjoy the rest of the journey. 

So before you choose a travel pillow, it’s important that as yourself a few questions regarding your sitting and sleeping positions. For instance, do you lean forward or backward while taking a nap? How do you sit when reading a book during your trip? The answers to these questions will make it easier for you to decide the best pillow that’ll provide enough support for your neck. (1)

Buckwheat or memory foam travel pillows, for instance, are the most appropriate when it comes to neck support. If you always lean forward while sleeping, then neck braces will come in handy. Make sure you purchase a product that provides enough support for this part of your body to avoid unnecessary neck pain at the end of the trip.

  • Texture and fabric 

Many travelers tend to overlook this factor when purchasing their travel pillow. However, this is one important feature that determines how comfortable a pillow will be for the user. Take plastic inflatable pillows, for example. Although they may feel enjoyable for many people, some users find them irritating to their skin and quite uncomfortable.

Keep in mind that most of these issues with fabric are experienced in hot conditions. Therefore, if you’re planning a trip to warm-weather locations, make sure you prioritize the pillow’s texture and fabric in your shopping criteria. In such climates, soft plastic and cotton offer the most desirable experience for any traveler. Fleece, on the other hand, is ideal for flights and cold climates.

  • Air circulation

Another feature that’s rarely talked about is the pillow’s air circulation. The type of fabric chosen isn’t the only thing that’ll determine your comfort in hot conditions. If you’re someone that excretes a lot of sweat while sleeping, then you already know how uncomfortable that can be at night.

To avoid this discomfort while travelling, it’s important that you shop for a good cooling pillow. Buckwheat pillows, for instance, are filled with buckwheat hulls whose shape allow spaces between them. As such, air can easily flow within the pillow, hence bringing that much-needed cooling effect.

This feature is ideal for warm destinations. However, you can also consider this cooling effect in your shopping process even if you’re visiting a cooler place because it makes your trip more comfortable. 

Best Travel Pillow

  • Size and weight

When it comes to travel pillows, portability is one of the most important features you should consider. These products vary in size and weight, something that can be attributed to the type of material used and the intended purpose. As stated earlier, if you are a light packer, make sure you choose a travel pillow that can be added to your luggage without making it bulky.

While deciding on the size of your travel pillow, also consider how you’d want to use it. Are you looking to support your neck? The shape and size of this pillow will be quite different from the one you’ll use to support your lower back.

  • Consider its durability

This is another very important factor to keep in mind when shopping for a travel pillow—or any other product, for that matter. As a frequent traveler, it can be quite costly to buy a new item every time you have a trip. Therefore, it’s imperative that you purchase a pillow that’ll serve you for the longest time possible. On average, a good pillow should last for about two years. After that, you’ll need to replace it.

So what are some things you should consider when checking the durability of a pillow? For starters, the material used to make the pillow determines its lifespan. Buckwheat pillows, for instance, are manufactured using natural cotton and buckwheat hulls. These materials are durable and can sustain any amount of pressure put on them. Pillows made from wool are also likely to last for many months, if not years.

As mentioned earlier in the article, pillows with zipped covers allow you to customize their sizes. This feature also plays a huge role in the durability of the product because you can easily wash the cover without messing with the filling content. When the hulls are worn out, you can replace them and continue using the pillow for much longer.

  • Review the cost

Having considered all the features discussed here, your final decision will highly depend on the available budget. Pillows vary in price; and that can be attributed to their size, weight, design, or the quality of materials used. Whether you’re saving up for your trip or budgeting for your next pay check, make sure you balance your finances before going to the store. Once you have this in place, you can eliminate the expensive brands and choose one that fits your bill.

Inasmuch as cheap pillows can be poor in terms of quality, that’s not always the case. You can easily find a good product at an affordable price. All you have to do is find a store that offers discounts on these items or take advantage of any promotional campaign at local or online stores. Unless your budget doesn’t allow, never compromise on quality just to save some cash. Doing so can be costly in the long run. 


Choosing a good travel pillow can be intimidating, especially if you’re doing so for the first time. However, with the tips in this article, that process shouldn’t be complicated. Among the main factors that you must consider in your shopping are the size, weight, durability, and type of the pillow. Make sure whatever you choose meets your needs, from supporting the necessary body parts to providing overall comfort. The cost of the pillow should also be your priority to ensure that you don’t mess with your finances. 


  1. “Neck Pillows: Can They Reduce Pain And Improve Sleep?”, Source: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/neck-pillows-what-you-need-know
  2. “Memory Foam Pillows: What You Need To Know”, Source: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/memory-foam-pillows-what-to-know

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