The Best Travel Pillows
Updated 23 November 2020
A good travel pillow can be the make or break for getting comfortable enough to get a bit of sleep while travelling.
For this reason, it’s worth spending the time researching which one will work best for you.
WikiJob have done the hard work for you; identifying the best travel pillows on the market, outlining their standout features and any drawbacks or considerations.
After reviewing many of the popular brands, we have named the FYLINA Updated Travel Pillow as the top travel pillow of 2020.
The main body of the FYLINA travel pillow is constructed from memory foam that moulds around your neck and relieves pressure, with a removable covering made from cotton.
FYLINA describes the fabric as breathable and sweat-resistant, and the fact that it’s machine washable means that you can start every journey with a clean and fresh pillow.
Interestingly, the outer fabric offers health benefits. It is a magnetic fabric, thought to have positive benefits on the body including boosting circulation and supporting the immune system.
This pillow also features a handy pocket for a phone, allowing you to sleep soundly knowing that it is tucked away safely.
The FYLINA travel pillow looks sleek and elegant with predominant colours of dark grey and black.
What makes this design different is the hook-loop fastening system of the updated version (the previous had a toggle feature). Two large strips of hook-loop material overlap to fasten the pillow as tightly as the wearer requires.
We found that this provided a snug and supportive fit, although at times the hook-loop sections can scratch bare skin – something to bear in mind when planning your travel outfit.
Although this pillow claimed our top spot, it’s not without its drawbacks. There may be some inconsistency in quality control during production as occasionally some pillows are found to be less firm than others.
The FYLINA travel pillow gives stable neck and head support, and the fastening system allows for a great fit. It’s readily available (not all of the pillows we reviewed were as easy to buy online), and it looks great too.
The cherry on the cake is that this pillow has a really affordable price point. Overall, we think the FYLINA travel pillow has more than earned our top spot.
Cabeau Evolution Travel Pillow
A high-quality pillow and our Runner Up
The ergonomic design and comfortable fit have made the Cabeau Evolution a best seller in the US. Now being introduced into UK markets, you can join the many other travellers who rave about this high-performing neck pillow.Between £25 and £69 from Amazon
With a similar design to our top choice, the Cabeau Evolution offers much of the same but at a higher price point, earning it the Runner Up spot in our list of the best travel pillows of 2020.
We loved the design of this pillow as it has a thin, flat back that fits perfectly against the headrest of an aeroplane seat without pushing your head forward. Raised edges around every part of the pillow mean your head and neck are well supported in any position.
The clever toggle feature allows you to adjust the size of the pillow, drawing it in to support smaller head and neck sizes, and extending it to increase the circumference.
The memory foam construction makes the Cabeau Evolution supportive and provides maximum comfort. We enjoyed the soft velour fabric which covers the body of the pillow, giving a soft and luxurious feel that is not only comfortable but also stops you getting too hot.
As an extra bonus, the fabric cover is removable and machine washable so you can keep it clean between every journey.
The Cabeau isn’t the most exciting looking travel pillow – it doesn’t differ much in appearance from a standard inexpensive travel pillow you can pick up in any airport. However, we found that the shape and fit work really well for sleeping.
As with the FYLINA, this travel pillow also has a pocket designed to hold a mobile phone, so you don’t have to rely on holding yours in your hands if you nod off. However, we’d probably say this was a nice extra rather than an influencing factor in the buying decision.
Some of the Cabeau travel pillows come with a carry case and earplugs included, but this can be unclear from product descriptions so be sure to research this carefully before choosing which version is right for you.
Originating in the US, Cabeau Evolution travel pillows are now available in the UK, but we found that they are frustratingly difficult to come by. The Cabeau website prices the Evolution Classic at £25 but has no information on international shipping costs.
UK distributors, including Amazon, do have the Cabeau Evolution in stock but are demanding a significantly higher price than the Cabeau website (at the time of writing, the Amazon list price was a hefty £69). So, although you may decide you’d quite like to buy a Cabeau Evolution, it may prove difficult to get your hands on one for a price you’re willing to pay.
The Cabeau Evolution seems like the leader in quality and fit and gets excellent customer reviews to back this up. Although the difficulty in purchasing as a UK customer is a major drawback, your efforts will pay off if you do manage to get hold of one.
Overall, the Cabeau takes our runner up spot.
We’ve named the SNUGL travel pillow as an awesome product due to its neat design and the option to choose the size that suits you best. Available in adult regular, adult small or kids sizes, and with three colourways to choose from, SNUGL offers the most choice of all the brands we reviewed.
As with the other high-performing travel pillows, the main body is made from memory foam, with a removable, washable outer cover.
SNUGL is dedicated to creating speciality cushions and pillows, and it shows. It’s clear that considerable time and thought have gone into the design of this pillow, and we were impressed by the high-quality feel and perfect fit.
The SNUGL travel pillow fastens with a small adjustable buckle to adjust the fit. It is reversible and can be used upside down, back to front, and in any other position to provide support and comfort.
SNUGL say that the pillow reduces in size by 70% to fit into the included carry bag and we loved how easy it is to pack away.
Although the SNUGL pillow has lots of positives, some reviewers have criticised the quality of the buckle, reporting that it didn’t tighten properly, or even snapped. We found it a little uncomfortable to wear earphones with the pillow in place; something to be aware of if you like to sleep while listening to music.
Overall, we love the design and look of the SNUGL travel pillow and it’s evident that SNUGL really cares about its products. We love how they offer a 60-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month warranty.
What Is a Travel Pillow?
A travel pillow is a small pillow specifically designed for use when travelling. Mostly used on flights, travel pillows are a game-changer for frequent flyers, especially for overnight trips.
The right travel pillow can make the difference between a whole night of missed sleep, a crick in the neck and some serious frustration, or the opportunity of a few hours of good quality sleep and a cheerful arrival at your destination.
A cleverly designed travel pillow provides support to your head and neck and allows you to sleep in a comfortable position without any aches or pains when you wake.
They are also useful for train, coach and car journeys, or even for resting at home.
Why You Might Want to Buy a Travel Pillow
If you travel frequently or have a long flight coming up, investing in a good travel pillow will really pay off.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be flying first class, plane travel is not known for its luxurious comfort. But, for a relatively small cost, you can maximise your economy class seat experience and make your flight as comfortable as possible.
When we are asleep we’re unable to hold our heads in an upright position, resulting in an unnatural bend in the neck or a rolling of the head.
When the spine is out of alignment for some time, pressure is put on the vertebrae resulting in pain, stiffness and longer-term postural problems if the situation regularly recurs.
So, investing in a travel pillow can be about more than just comfort; they can prevent long term health issues for frequent travellers. Of course, travel pillows also ensure you get good quality sleep, ensuring you arrive feeling refreshed at your destination.
How Travel Pillows Work
Travel pillows come in a few different designs but, essentially, a travel pillow aims to fill the gap around the neck, providing stability and support for the head when in an upright position.
They’re small and easy to carry, making them ideal for travel or any situation where you want to sleep but are unable to lie down.
Different companies take different approaches to the challenge of providing the necessary head support. The shape of the pillow can be instrumental and some innovative and design-led brands are thinking outside the box, creating neck pillows that veer away from the standard U-shape.
The materials used to make the pillow must also be conducive to supporting the head, with memory foam popular for high-end products, and inflatable pillows relying on the pressure of air to hold their shape.
Although they’ve been around for a long time, travel pillows are hard to get right, with many travellers always on the search for that elusive ‘perfect pillow’ that works best for them.
What to Look for When Buying a Travel Pillow
We have identified some top features to look for when choosing the right travel pillow. These are what we looked for when compiling our list:
You can have the most expensive, cleverly designed travel pillow on the market but if it doesn’t fit you well, it won’t work.
Consider whether you have a large or small neck, or if you have other influencing factors like a beard that might affect the fit of your pillow.
Look at any features that encourage a snug fit, like the ability to adjust the size, measurements, guidance on who best suits a particular pillow or the range of sizes available.
If you can only get comfortable in one sleeping position, you need to make sure your travel pillow supports this. Check whether a pillow holds the head in a certain position.
A well-designed travel pillow will be versatile enough to adapt to different sleeping positions and will allow you to change position throughout your journey.
How to Keep It Clean
Ideally, a good travel pillow will have a removable cover that is machine washable, meaning that you can start every journey with a clean and fresh pillow. If the cover isn’t removable, it needs to be wipeable at the very least.
One of the most important factors in the buying decision is cost. The benefits you’ll get from your pillow need to be worth your outlay and, as with any purchase, you can weigh up the best of the offerings within your budget.
By its very purpose, travel pillows need to be easy to carry around. Different brands manage this in different ways.
Many provide a carry bag that the pillow folds into, usually at a fraction of its original size. Some pillows wrap around luggage or baggage handles, or are supplied with a carabiner to clip them onto your backpack.
Ease of Inflating/Deflating
If you’re choosing an inflatable neck pillow, the ease and effectiveness of inflating and deflating it make a huge difference. As well as the product descriptions, check customer reviews for honest feedback.
Some travel pillows come with little extras. Eye masks, earplugs, carry bags and carabiners are all regularly supplied with pillows at the more expensive end of the market.
Some pillows even have pockets to keep your mobile phone safe while you sleep.
No matter how good a product sounds, real-life experiences are invaluable in providing a clear picture of how it performs in the real world.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, check reviews carefully. Think about any considerations that are important to you and search reviews for similar customers.
Other Travel Pillows We Reviewed
Our extensive research revealed a wide range of travel pillows on the market, many of which are worth considering if you’re thinking of making a purchase.
As well as our top three recommended travel pillows, we also felt that a few more earned a mention:
The Go Travel Neck Pillow follows a similar design to our top three pillows, with a body made from memory foam and an adjustable click strap fastening that helps you find the right fit.
However, it matches the cost of some of the better travel pillows at £24.99 but fails to offer a lot of the other features included in rival products.
The velour cover is removable and washable, and the back of the pillow is shaped and gripped to help it fit against the headrest of an aeroplane seat. Despite these basic features, there is no impressive innovation involved in the design.
A lack of additional extras like a phone pocket, along with a rather uninspiring appearance, means this pillow failed to impress us.
It is, however, readily available from Amazon and high street stores like John Lewis, and the online reviews are generally favourable, so it’s worth checking out.
Travelrest approach the challenge of travel pillow design from an interesting angle. Veering away from the traditional U-shape neck support, their Ultimate Travel Pillow rests on one shoulder and lies across the body to the waist, in a similar position to a car seat belt.
Travelrest state that this is the ideal solution for people who like to sleep on their side.
It’s an inflatable pillow and we found that there was sometimes a risk of it deflating during use or after limited use.
The design of this pillow is especially useful when in an aisle seat as it gives you something to lean against without the need of a wall or fixed surface. However, we thought that it didn’t quite give enough support to stop the head lolling forwards when asleep.
Trtl is an innovative and customer-focused brand. Founded by frequent flyers and mechanical engineering graduates Michael Corrigan and David Kellock, the trtl travel pillow has been through numerous design stages and rigorous testing.
The result is a rather impressive neck support system that has the appearance of a padded scarf.
This travel pillow uses internal support bands to provide shape and structure and can be wrapped in any direction to hold the head in a comfortable position.
We found the trtl comfortable when sitting in one position; however, it doesn’t allow for head movement during sleep.
The fleece fabric is washable, soft and comfortable, but we found the material a little hot compared to some of the other brands.
At the more costly end of the market, the trtl travel pillow might be a bit of a gamble depending on your sleeping preferences.
On balance, we love the passion and innovation from trtl. With a range of travel products such as eye masks, compression socks and other accessories, if you’re a frequent flyer, this is a brand that needs to be on your radar.
Another travel pillow that has moved away from the standard U-shape design is the J-Pillow.
The unique shape and features of this pillow made it the winner of the British Invention of the Year award. The design of this machine-washable pillow means that the chin is supported, so the head doesn’t fall forwards.
As often happens with products that don’t follow the standard designs, the J-Pillow will work well for some people and not for others. As it only supports one side of the head, we had to remove it and swap sides when changing our head position, which is an inconvenience.
It’s easy to purchase, with free worldwide delivery, but it comes in at the more expensive end of the scale at £24.95.
Unlike virtually all the other well-regarded travel pillows on the market, TEMPUR has stuck with the traditional style pillow shape in a smaller size.
This shape pillow is familiar and offers a comfortable option no matter what side you like to sleep, but how does it fare during travel?
If you are attached to your full-size TEMPUR pillows, this is a great option for travel as it is a much lighter option and much more portable.
You will likely purchase this pillow to also use once you get to your destination, rather than solely en route. It would also be useful for short-haul flights or to make your airport wait more comfortable.
With a high price point of £50, it is difficult to argue value for money; however, this brand is known for comfort and it lives up to this promise.
At a Glance Comparison
Use the chart below for a top-level overview of all the drawing tablets we’ve reviewed:
|FYLINA Updated Travel Pillow||Memory foam construction with cotton cover||Yes||From £13.99||Includes carry case, eye mask and earplugs||Magnetic fabric for health benefits, great fit|
|Cabeau Evolution||Memory foam with velour cover||Yes||From £69||None mentioned||Media pouch, high-quality product, great fit. Difficult to get hold of and expensive|
|SNUGL||Memory foam with fabric cover||Yes||From £19.95||Carabiner clip included||Available in different sizes, excellent customer service|
|Go Travel Ultimate Memory Pillow||Memory foam with a velour exterior||Yes||From £24.99||Includes carry pouch||Relatively expensive for a basic design|
|Travelrest||Inflatable||Hand wash||From £19.95||Plush cover available for an additional cost||Unusual design with mixed results. Small and light when deflated|
|Trtl Pillow||Fleece with hidden internal support bands||Yes||From £24.95||None||Innovative design, lightweight, packs easily|
|J-Pillow||Polyester fibre with a plush surface||Yes||From £24.95||Carry bag||Winner of British Invention of the Year|
|TEMPUR Comfort||Soft fabric removable cover. TEMPUR micro-cushion filling||Yes||£50||None||No innovative features to make it suitable for travel. Expensive.|
There are so many travel pillows available on the market that it can be hard to know whether to stick with a standard pillow or whether alternative designs are worth the expense and risk.
It’s worth putting in the time and effort to research the best options for you before resorting to grabbing the first neck pillow you see as you pass through the airport.
Different styles of travel pillow offer various features. Your physicality and preferred sleeping style will determine which one works best for you, so consider the design as well as the cost before making a purchase.
The right travel pillow can be a game-changer for frequent travellers, so investing the time now will pay off.