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Which travel pillow is best for me?

Have you ever found yourself on a long flight and looked around to see many of your fellow passengers getting some much envied shut eye with a cosy neck pillow while you scroll through movies and try and make a little neck holder out of the airline pillow?

The real question, before I get to my reviews below, is do neck pillows really work to help you sleep on a plane?

Well after 18 years as a travel writer and blogger, based in New Zealand where we fly 12 hours just to get to Asia or the USA, let alone the next 12 hours to Europe, I have experimented with many kinds of travel pillows and here is my review including which one I now love, but why others might work better for you – or your kids.

The first mistake people make is using a travel pillow that doesn’t fasten in the front and therefore falls off or dribbles down your shoulder causing your head to follow suit until you are leaning on the poor lady next to you.

The second mistake is that when they have a pillow that does do up, they keep the fastener in the front and their head is being pushed forward away from the seat in an uncomfortably for hours.

Here’s a tip: swivel it round so the thin part with the fastener is in the back and your chin can rest on the fat pillow part.

Here’s another tip: with the front button/clasp/toggle you can easily carry your pillow around the handle on your suitcase, thereby taking up no precious packing space.

Here are four types of neck pillows that I’ve tried and which I also now sell in my Travel Store, so if you’re located in New Zealand you can buy one online and I’ll ship it to you before your next trip. Either way, I hope you find this review helpful and I’d love to hear your comments on pillows you’ve tried.

Neck pillows on planes

Kids love neck pillows too! This is my niece heading for home in the Caymans with her microbead pillow

Microbead travel pillow
This is a squishiest of the lot. The microbeads move easily and over time the pillow will definitely soften up (and may get saggy). This pillow is ideal for little ones and kids as it can be moulded to fit and is very comfortable. It’s about the cheapest travel pillow on the market so is great for a one-off trip or the first time traveller.

Inflatable travel pillow
These are a great cheap and cheerful solution, but not my favourite mainly due to the seam that can run around the middle and jab into your neck! It works like the microbead pillow because you can blow it up to be as firm or soft as you like. Ideal for little kids and babies if you just want a little neck support in a car seat, for example. The one in my store (link in title) has a plush cotton cover so there’s no plastic or seam that can bother you.

Memory foam travel pillow
This is a firm pillow and is good if you don’t like the squishy kinds. I personally find this one a bit hard, but it is great for getting some sleep, especially if you have a window seat and can build a little nest. Remember to swivel it round if it’s too firm in the back.

Cabeau Evolution travel pillow
This is my favourite and is also the best selling travel pillow by far in the Travel Store. It fits high at the sides like a neck brace and is also made of memory foam but not so hard as to be uncomfortable. It comes with its own storage bag and you roll it up like a cinnamon bun to pack. (Make sure you store it at home out of the bag – it is memory foam after all!) It fastens at the front with a toggle and I can get hours of sleep sitting upright in economy class with this neck pillow (and a cheeky sleeping tablet!) as my head doesn’t move from side to side. It’s more spendy than the others, but the reviews also speak to its success in making a difference on a long haul flight.

I now don’t travel without mine.

Neck pillow travel hack

A much easier way to sleep with the button in the back! This is a microbead pillow.

Buy Cabeau travel pillow

The best selling Cabeau Evolution neck pillow – my favourite! Click on the image to be taken to the Travel Store 😀

If you’re outside of NZ, you can buy this pillow on Amazon if you like

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!