The best travel pillows 2018: nap on the go and arrive refreshed

Slope off to the land of nod during any long journey with our top picks of the most comfortable travel pillows

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Travel is a pain in the neck. Long flights, unexpected delays, and work-infused business trips can leave even the most alert traveller completely exhausted. The best way to deal with all this? Sleep through it. 

Whether you’re travelling by car, train or plane; it’s rare that travellers in transit get any refreshing sleep. More often than not it’s snatched sleep from which you wake up disoriented, disgruntled, and with a sore neck. 

What you need is one of the best travel pillows.

There are a whole host of funky and functional travel pillows on the market that will keep you comfy from door to door. From memory foam to inflatable, we’ve found a great selection of travel pillows to suit the individual traveller. 

How to choose the best travel pillow for you

When picking a travel pillow, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, what you'll be travelling in; car, bus, plane. Secondly, what type of pillow you usually like to sleep on at home. Lastly, how much room you have to transport it. 

If you’re travelling on a plane and there’s nowhere to lean your head, opt for ones with greater support around your neck like the classic 'U' shaped pillows you see hanging from every suitcase in the airport. 

However, be sure to find one that’s big enough to suit your neck; we don’t all have necks the same size. For longer journeys in a car or a bus, choosing a softer travel pillow that you can shape to your preferred sleeping angle with spongier fillings, such as microbeads, will be better. 

For backpackers and those who travel light, choose a travel pillow that’s compact and easy to stash in luggage, or attach to your bag. Keep an eye out for travel pillows that have their own compact carry case. Not only does this keep them clean and fresh during your travels, it's also handy for stashing in your rucksack. 

If you do have the luxury of spare space, you can get some pretty big, comfy travel pillows that almost replicate your at-home sleeping experience.

Just remember; if you sleep on a memory foam pillow at home and enjoy it, you might pay a little more, but it's worth investing in this material for your travel pillow to guarantee a good power nap. 

If you are not too fussed about fillings, you will be able to grab yourself a bargain as cheaper materials can be just as soft, but come at a snip of the price of their memory foam equivalents.

Our pick of the best travel pillows to buy today

1. Go Travel Ultimate Memory Pillow

The reliable pillow for all forms of transport

Specifications
Best for: Sleeping anywhere
Style: U-Shape
Filling: Memory Foam
Reasons to buy
+Take anywhere+Memory foam
Reasons to avoid
-Tricky to pack away 

If you want a trusty pillow that you can take on all your adventures, then the Go Travel Ultimate Memory Pillow will allow you to get that much-needed shut eye wherever you are. Its classic U-shape supports the neck and adds a touch of luxury with its memory foam filling. 

You’ll be able to instantly find the perfect sleeping position as it remembers your neck shape. With its handy neck clip to hold you in place, this is the perfect travel pillow for long haul flights and equally good for long trips in the car.

2. Trtl Pillow

A subtle and soft neck support

Specifications
Best for: Discreet napping
Style: Neck scarf
Filling: Memory foam
Reasons to buy
+Looks like a scarf+Keeps you warm 
Reasons to avoid
-Restrictive  

We all know the dreaded feeling of boarding a plane only to find you’ve been lumped with a middle seat. If you’re a single traveller, the last thing you want to do is end up falling asleep on the shoulder of the stranger next to you. However, the Trtl Pillow allows you to maintain an upright position, with all the same comfort of a typical U-shape pillow. Simply wrap it around your neck like
a scarf and it will support your chin and neck whilst preventing your head from falling forwards. It's super soft too which is great for long journeys.

3. ExPed Air Pillow

Ultra lightweight inflatable for camping and backpacking

Specifications
Best for: Camping
Style: Rectangular
Filling: Air
Reasons to buy
+Pocket-sized when flat+Weighs just 32g
Reasons to avoid
-‘Loud’ fabric

Here’s a travel pillow that has much bigger horizons than just long-haul flights. Aimed at outdoor adventurers, campers and backpackers, this inflatable pillow is all about size and weight. When inflated it measures 38x27x11cm, which is big enough to rest a head, and when it’s airless it goes into pocket-sized stuff sack no bigger than a phone. 

Its ultralight design does have one drawback; it’s made of tricot polyester, which can be quite cold and crumply, so it’s best to drape a t-shirt or some other softer fabric over it when using it. However, it’s so easy to use, inflating in less than five seconds, with the air easy to squeeze out entirely when packing it away. It’s also got a couple of grommets for attaching it to a sleeping mat.

4. Unclesign UNO

Extra-supportive memory foam pillow that packs down into a stuff sack

Specifications
Best for: Larger heads
Style: U-shaped
Filling: Hydrophilic memory foam
Reasons to buy
+Packs down to a third of its size+Ergonomic size
Reasons to avoid
-Bigger than most

The trouble with most travel pillows is that they completely fail to do the one thing they’re designed to; support your neck when sitting in an airline seat. Cue the UNO, a U-shaped memory foam pillow with a little extra where it counts. 

A pronounced ridge right behind the neck gives valuable support where it counts, but despite its extra bulk the UNO isn’t any more difficult to travel with thanks to it packing away into a stuff sack. Do that and it’s about a third of the size. However, the key advantage of the UNO is its unfurled larger size, and its use of memory foam. It’s also got a washable Spandex pillowcase.

5. J Pillow Travel Pillow

Say goodbye to sore necks with this handy pillow

Specifications
Best for: Head and neck support
Style: J-shape
Filling: Foam
Reasons to buy
+Full head and neck support+Machine washable
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive 

Although pricey, this J Pillow is one of the best travel pillows for anyone who suffers with a stiff neck. The J shape supports the back of your head, the neck and your chin simultaneously, preventing your head from dropping and giving you all round support to prevent muscle strain. If you worry about the damage that travelling can do to your neck or have suffered from aches and pains after sleeping during travel, this travel pillow is sure to help you out.

6. Bosign Tablet & Travel Pillow 2-in-1

This unusual productivity pillow doubles as an iPad-holder

Specifications
Best for: Business trips
Style: U-shaped
Filling: Microbeads
Reasons to buy
+Supports a tablet+Washable cover
Reasons to avoid
-Small size

Work, rest. Repeat. That’s what most business trips are about from the airport onwards. So why not make a travel pillow that’s also a workstation? This U-shaped 25x28x9cm pillow gets working right from the off, with straps that keep it attached to the pull-up handle of roll-on luggage. 

If that’s convenient, it’s only the start. When supporting a tablet, the Bosign can be positioned either flat for work, or upright for watching video. However, despite being soft and with a washable cover, when used as a pillow it proved itself nicely sized only for kids and small people, and definitely not for large necks and heads.

7. Huzi Infinity Pillow

Snuggle up on the go with this large microbead pillow

Specifications
Best for: Comfort
Style: Wrap
Filling: Microbeads
Reasons to buy
+Versatile +Cosy
Reasons to avoid
- A bit bulky

This is probably the closest you will get to a travel pillow that's anything like the pillow on your bed at home, in terms of comfort. This big cosy pillow is designed to allow you to sleep in a range of positions, but is particularly useful for those who like to rest their head on their tray table during a flight or even on a desk. The fabric is anti-bacterial and breathable, so you don’t get too hot, and easily machine washable. Your meant to wrap one side of this pillow around your neck and pop your hands into the other, but to be honest, this ones work just as well when used like a standard pillow. You'll need some spare room in your luggage though as this one is not compact.

8. BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

360 adjustable support for long flights

Specifications
Best for: Long-haul flights
Style: U-shape
Filling: Microbeads
Reasons to buy
+Chin support+Lots of colours
Reasons to avoid
-Tight around the neck 

The BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow is a great travel pillow for anyone who likes the idea of the classic 'U' shaped pillows typically seem on planes, but wants something that will prevent their chin falling forward. Similar to the J shaped travel pillow earlier in our list this BCOZZY option is a slightly more compact version with the same 360degree support. If you find memory foam neck pillows a bit firm and restricting, the micro beads in this one give your head a softer support.

9. Cabeau Evolution Pillow

A plush memory foam pillow for luxury napping on the go

Specifications
Best for: Maximum comfort
Style: U-Shape
Filling: Memory foam
Reasons to buy
+360 degree head support+Softest pillow on the list
Reasons to avoid
- A little pricey 

If you want to indulge in ultimate comfort, then the Cabeau Evolution Pillow is a plush travel pillow that will make you feel truly relaxed even on the bumpiest of rides. Perfect for in-flight napping, this pillow fully supports the back of your head so you do not need to lean on the window or side of the chair to get comfy. It is ideal for people with pre-existing neck pain as it corrects your posture for a high-quality kip, plus it packs down really small too making it the ideal travel pillow to stash in your hand luggage. Expensive, but worth it if your a frequent traveller.

10. Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow

The comforting travel pillow for side sleepers

Specifications
Best for: Side-sleepers
Style: inflatable
Filling: Air
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
- Not as comfy as others 

This inflatable across-body style is one of the best travel pillows for side-sleepers as it gives you something to lean into (rather than the stranger sat next to you). If you always twist to your side in the car, on a plane or on a bus, then you are probably a side-sleeper and will need something a bit more comprehensive like this Travelrest pillow as opposed to the standard 'U' shaped pillow in order to get a decent nap. This inflatable pillow can be easily and quickly deflated and rolled up tightly for compact storage too.

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If you are heading off on a long haul trip, check out our buying guide for the best long haul travel accessories to make your next adventure a comfy one.