Before getting into the ins and outs of which travel pillows, neck supports, or compression wraps are best to use, I think we need to think about the why of it all. It is common to wonder why in the days of effort spent in traveling light something like a travel pillow would even be a consideration. They are bulky, oddly shaped, awkward to carry, and just pretty much inconvenient to pack while not in use.
If you want to skip to the point, scroll down and check out the 8 Cool Travel Pillows for Airplanes.
Why Should I Use a Travel Pillow
When I think about pillows on a more basic level, I cannot simply nix the idea of a travel pillow. I am going to go out on a ledge here and assume that most people do not even consider going to bed without a pillow. I do not even occupy space in my mind with the absurd idea of sitting on a couch without seat and back pillows or cushions. Hard surfaced chairs are stylish, minimalist, and utilitarian, but it is not a difficult decision to make to sit or lay down on something soft when I seek comfort.
Why then would I go into one of the most uncomfortable environments to spend time (a plane) and not bring a small taste of comfort along with me. To save space and comfort while I walk to the terminal? To save on the weight that I have to carry around my destination before I settle into my temporary lodging? To practice minimalism? These reasons used to be mine, but now the only reason that I do not bring a travel neck pillow is simply because I forgot.
I would be remiss here if I did not take at least a slight nod toward my age. As I write this post, I am 38 years old. To my knowledge (confirmed by a real memory), I took my first flight at age 5. 33 years ago, all I needed was my pink plaid bunny blankie. Made up of a fringed two square feet of loved worn soft fleece and a not so white bunny head. That was all I needed and I would never consider leaving home without it. I do not remember being uncomfortable on that two hour flight to Disney World.
As you can imagine, times have changed. Since then, my body has suffered from sports injuries, mild fibromyalgia, and uncountable hours spent seated in front of school books, computer screens, and chained to straight back chairs. Trips to massage therapists and chiropractors are the reality of my life today, no longer enjoying the occasional awakening from a flight passenger upon whom I snuggled against in my youthful bliss and disrespect for personal space.
In short, I am approaching actual middle age and I need a pillow!
When Should I Use My Travel Pillow
After years of trial and error, more discomfort and less discomfort, and even some moments of absolute comfort, I have a few rules that I try to follow:
One Hour Flights
Flights under an hour and a half do not necessitate the space accommodation necessary for a pillow of any type. In a short flight, which may even take place on a small jet with even less than normal space per passenger seat, it is not really necessary to have a pillow. Your actual flight time will be less than, or about, an hour.
During these times, I find something to occupy myself other than sleep (like my kindle or a magazine I picked up in the airport magazine rack). Every once in a while, I may even embrace the opportunity to chat up my seat mate. So, I have a rule about this too. I do not speak, unless spoken to. I was born embraced with the gift of gab and only willing participants ought to be subjected to what I offer a stranger in a conversation.
Two Plus Hour Flights
Flights approaching, or over, two hours should be accompanied by some sort of travel pillow, neck wrap, or other contraption that provides comfort, support, and avoids the embarrassing and interruptive sitting sleep head bob. For me, these are not talk to your neighbor flights. These are headphone flights, movie flights, novel flights, even working flights, but most of all . . . these are get comfortable and sleep flights.
What Type of Travel Pillow Should I Have (8 Cool List)
Let’s face it, the Classic U-Shaped, super soft, super one fits all type model is a thing of the past. Well, it should be, but it’s not yet. It is very much here and likely to stay awhile before completely dwindling out of style. Walk through any airport (even some smaller ones) and you can grab 2 for $20 and be on your merry way.
Well, the engineering of a typical neck travel pillow is not so typical anymore. And, the best part is that you do not have to pay ginormous prices (but sometimes you do). Below is a list of some cool travel pillows, but this is not a review . . . just things that make you go “huh”, “ooooooK”, and “Imma get it now!”
1. Ostrich Original Pillow
This guy may look a little strange for most. It is literally a pillow that you stick your head into!
2. Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow
The Cabeau is great for people who tend to get overheated. It is breathable and keeps you cool. It also comes with a travel case which is always a plus in my book.
3. Voyage Pillow
This is a two for one combo. Optional use eye mask in the front and neck pillow in the rear.
4. J-Pillow Travel Pillow
I think the name could be a little misleading. To me, it is more like a Y- shaped pillow that provides support around your neck and pillows one side of your head.
5. Huzi Infinity Pillow
Less of a pillow per se and more of a heavy infinity shaped thick blanket.
6. Trtl Pillow
This one is also not what would come to mind when I think of a pillow, but it more of a think black it material. However, it does support both your head and your neck.
This one inflates during use and easily deflates to stow away in a small compartment of your carryon luggage or tote bad.
8. Daydreamer Inflatable Neck Travel Pillow
The Daydreamer inflates at a push of a button (several pushes to be sure).
My Favorite Travel Pillow(s)
Pictured is my current travel pillow. It is sufficient for my purposes, although it is not my favorite one. It is the basic U-shape and is made with a thick firm memory foam. It was a quick convenience purchase. Yes, this means that I left home without my neck pillow and was forced to purchase it at an airport kiosk for $40 plus.
For maximum comfort, I have to press the back of it really hard, get into position, and not move. It puffs out to normal size as soon as I release pressure from it. If I had my wish, it would be a little less dense. I usually start off with it beneath my butt or on the small of my back. When it is time to catch a few Zzz, I place it on my neck, press back hard, tilt my head away from my neighbor (or towards my favored neighbor if seated in the middle) and say goodnight.
My favorite neck pillow is currently on strike. In other words, I moved about a year ago and put it in a safe place that I have not been able to locate. It was a well-thought-out purchase. I loved it. I care for it. I brought it everywhere (even on trains and in cars. My love for it achieved such a level that it is now even safe from me. I cannot find it, but I did manage to find this one photo.
This is a selfie after waking up from a great sleep. It has a snap/hook feature in the front so it never really needs much readjusting when you get it set right. It is also made of a memory foam (softer with a lot more give than my current one). It also comes with a small sack into which it tucks neatly and compactly. You can remove the outer fabric by unzipping it and machine wash it. My current blue neck pillow has this feature as well.
On a somewhat unrelated topic, I did not want to end without sharing another travel pillow that I use and like. When I tent camp (which is pretty much the only way that I camp), I use the Sea To Summit inflatable camping pillow. It is a perfect head size, but the best feature is that it takes up virtually no space and fits easily in my fist when it is deflated and sacked. I have a lot of hot air and lung capacity so it only takes one long breath to inflate.
Well, that’s all from me on my ins and outs of travel pillows. What pillow do you all use? If you do not have a favorite one, I would like to see which ones you don’t like. Or if you do not use a pillow, what tips for flight comfort work well?