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Travel neck pillow on top of rolling suitcase in light colored living room
Pixel-Shot | Adobe Stock

5 Travel Pillows That Actually Work

The frequent fliers at SmarterTravel have tested hundreds of travel neck pillows, most of which don’t live up to their promises, leaving us tired and sore on long flights. In our extensive trials, we’ve found just five neck pillows that actually work. These gems prevent the dreaded head bob, and allow us to get as good a night’s sleep as you possibly can while sitting upright in coach. We recommend these as the five best neck pillows for travel.

Cabeau Air Evolution Inflatable Neck Pillow

Two views of the Cabeau Air Evolution Inflatable Neck Pillow in grey

If you find most inflatable neck pillows are too low to give you any real neck support, try the Air Evolution by Cabeau. It features raised sides that will allow you to comfortably rest your head to either side, plus a toggle in the center to keep the pillow firmly in place. 

Despite the extra height, the pillow only takes a few breaths to inflate, and packs down into a small carrying pouch.

Trtl Pillow Cool

Trtl Pillow cool in carrying case (left) and women using the Trtl Pillow Cool (right)
Trtl Travel

Prefer a little more structure to your neck pillow? The Trtl Pillow Cool is perfect for side sleepers looking for extra support. This uniquely designed pillow uses a firm but flexible structure that can be tucked on top of your shoulder and leaned on, providing a solid resting place for your chin.

The new cool version of Trtl’s cult-favorite travel pillow introduces an airmesh venting panel and chilly fabric that will help hot sleepers feel better. 

Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Travel Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Travel Pillow fully inflated (left) and Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Travel Pillow compressed into carrying case next to a water bottle for size (right)
Sea to Summit

Most inflatable u-shaped pillows don’t stay in place. Sea to Summit’s Aeros Ultralight travel pillow introduces a simple solution to this problem—an adjustable snap that secures the pillow around your neck, preventing sliding.

Weighing just 2.4 ounces and packing down into a case roughly the size of your palm, the Aeros is a great choice for travelers who prefer to travel lightly.

Cloudz Microbead Travel Pillow

Two views of the Cloudz Microbead Travel Pillow, one in packaging and one out of packaging

Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one. The Cloudz Microbead Travel Pillow is full of soft, squishy beads that allow travelers to shape the pillow into a custom design that best fits their needs. It works particularly well if you score the window seat and can lean against the wall of the plane. 

Bonus: this pillow can also be used as a back pillow for lumbar support.  

Cushion Lab Travel Pillow

Cushion Lab Travel Pillow compressed into its carrying case next to a coffee mug for size (left) and Cushion Lab Travel Pillow fully decompressed (right)
Cushion Lab

If you’re willing to sacrifice portability for comfort, you’ll love Cushion Lab’s Travel Pillow. Made from an extra-dense memory foam, this pillow wraps around your neck for 360-degree support in any sleeping position. 

The ergonomic design fits under your chin to cradle your head without pushing it forward. Although this travel pillow is larger than an inflatable one, it does pack down to be about the size of a coffee mug, and it includes a carabiner so you can attach it to your suitcase for easy transport.

All of the products featured in this story were hand-selected by our travel editors. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

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We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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