What the best travel pillow has

  • Compact size. Carrying a standard bed pillow in your luggage when traveling isn't feasible; travel pillows that fold down or deflate into small, lightweight packages are ideal.
  • Light weight. Look for a travel pillow that weighs 20 ounces or less. Some weigh as little as 3 ounces.
  • Quality fill. The type of fill that's best depends on your personal preferences. Inflatable travel pillows use air as a core, which means the firmness can be adjusted.
  • Soft, non-slip, washable fabrics. A soft outer shell is more comfortable next to the skin. Some travel pillows have machine-washable, removable cases, which makes for easy cleaning.
  • Size options. Some travel pillows come in a few size options, allowing you to choose a size that works for your personal needs.

Know before you go

How will you be using your travel pillow? If you need a travel pillow for backpacking, weight and size are more important issues to consider. However, a travel pillow for a flight needs to be more versatile for sleeping in different positions. Rectangular travel pillows don't offer any neck support, so using that type of pillow in an upright position may still lead to a sore neck.

How do you typically sleep? If you normally sleep on your back or your side, a contoured pillow will provide more comfort and better spine alignment than a travel pillow with a uniform shape.

Does your child ride in a car seat? Some travel pillows for children are designed specifically to be used with car seats and have special features that aid compatibility.

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