Travel pillows are a must-have for those who want to rest on the go. Whether you’re jetting off for your next vacation, or just need a break from the daily grind, these travel pillows will help you sleep soundly wherever you may be.
The best travel pillow 2020 is a product that has been introduced to the market recently. It is made of comfortable materials and provides a good amount of support.
Travel pillows must strike a delicate balance: too little support and you’ll get a crick in your neck; too much support and you’ll, well, get a crick in your neck. They must also be tiny, light, and easy to clean, which is no minor accomplishment for a simple travel item!
CNN Underscored spent hours researching and evaluating ten of the most popular and well-reviewed travel pillows on the market. To find the finest travel cushion for travels by airline, bus, or automobile, we tested pillows of all various designs and materials on both comfort and construction. While several of the pillows we tested were good, one stood out as the obvious winner:
The Cabeau Evolution S3 is the Goldilocks of travel pillows: solid enough to support our head and neck, soft enough to fall asleep on, and wonderfully portable due to its springy memory foam construction, which allows you to compress it to half its original size.
Julianne Ross is a model and actress. is a model and actress.
The Evolution S3’s adjustable front clasp let us to alter the neck opening to our preference.
When we tried the Cabeau Evolution S3, it improved on the traditional U-shaped travel cushion by adding raised sides that softly cradled our head and neck. The S3’s flat back was also reasonably flush against our seat, keeping our head from thrusting forward awkwardly, and an adjustable front clasp let us to gently tighten or relax the neck opening to our preference, allowing the cushion to be tailored to passengers of all sizes.
The S3 is best used while tilting your head to the side or as a cushion against a hard surface, but it still provides enough chin support. Its two built-in straps secured the cushion to almost every seatback we tried, keeping it in position and reducing whiplash during abrupt pauses or turbulence.
The S3’s memory foam is soft, springy, and supportive all at the same time; it’s firm enough to keep our heads from sagging too far to the side, but not so hard that it digs into our cheeks and ears (unlike another popular memory foam model we tested). Of course, memory foam, no matter how comfortable it is, will never be the lightest or most breathable material available. While we didn’t get too hot using the Cabeau, it wasn’t the coolest pillow we tried.
The S3’s cover (right) is composed of a lighter, more breathable, quick-drying fabric than Cabeau’s original Evolution cushion (left).
The S3’s cover, on the other hand, is a significant improvement over Cabeau’s original Evolution pillow. While the cover of the previous model is completely composed of velour, the S3’s is comprised of a more breathable, quick-dry fabric that does seem cooler to the touch. The S3’s cover is also completely detachable and machine washable, which is essential for anything that comes into contact with high-traffic areas like airline seats. Getting the cover on and off the S3’s memory foam insert was a little more difficult than we’d hoped, but it held up nicely in a normal wash cycle.
The most comfortable travel pillow in the world is worthless if it’s too large to carry about, which is why one of the greatest features of the Evolution S3 is its ability to collapse to half its original size. All you have to do is wrap the cushion up like a cinnamon bun and put it into the carrying bag that comes with it. It required a little elbow grease and worked best on a firm surface, but we believe it’s a small price to pay for the amount of room it saves.
The S3’s carrying case, on the other hand, is a significant improvement over the original Evolution cushion and is by far our favorite of the three. It is constructed of ripstop fabric and attaches straight to your baggage, keeping your cushion clean and safe until you’re ready to use it.
When looking for travel pillows, the most essential factors to consider are comfort and portability: You’ll need something that will provide genuine support without taking up a lot of room in your suitcase (thus defeating the purpose of being a travel pillow). We decided on two main rubrics for our pillow testing standards based on these considerations: comfort and construction. The pillows were next tested for comfort and support behind our heads, under our chins, and in the crooks of our necks by one short and one tall tester. We tested how simple it was to transport the pillows by rolling them up, smooshing them down, and stuffing each one into its own carrying bag (if included). We strapped the carrying bags to our baggage and observed how they affected our movement. We also took note of how the pillows’ coverings felt on our skin before removing them and washing them in the machine. Finally, we considered the price and appearance of each pillow to evaluate their total worth and choose the best cushion for the majority of passengers.
For testing, we utilized the following particular categories and subcategories:
- Comfort and support behind the head: When the cushion was put around the neck and/or behind the head, we noticed how pleasant and supporting it was.
- When tilting our necks to the side, as well as when resting against a hard surface, we found the pillow to be quite pleasant and supportive (as a traveler would be able to do when sitting in a window seat). We were particularly impressed with how easy it was to adjust the pillows while lying down on them (i.e., to switch sides).
- Front comfort/support: When we allowed our heads fall forward and rested our chins on the cushion, we noticed how comfortable and supporting it was.
- Suited: We looked to see whether each cushion was adjustable and if it fit individuals of various heights equally well.
- We took note of the size of each cushion, whether it came with a strap or bag for convenient transport, and if it could be compacted to take up less room. While some pillows were heavier than others (memory foam versions, for example), we found that a few additional ounces didn’t make a difference while carrying the pillows about. The option to attach cushions to our baggage, as well as the overall size and quality of our luggage, made a significant difference in mobility.
- Fabric: Nearly all of the pillows had a smooth, velvety shell composed of velour or fleece-like material, but the plushness varied. We took careful note of how each cushion felt on our skin.
- Washability: Because travel pillows come into contact with your face, they must be simple to clean. We also commented on how difficult it was to put the pillow covers on and off as needed.
- We looked at whether the pillows were airy and cool to the touch, as well as if they trapped heat.
- Appearance: We took note of each pillow’s general appearance and calculated how likely they were to elicit amusement.
J-Pillow by Jensens Inventions ($24.95; amazon.com)
The J-Pillow is a wonderfully comfy alternative, but it only works if you have a window seat. The J-Pillow slid about unless it was jammed against a hard surface since it didn’t connect directly to your neck or seat. We couldn’t fit the J-Pillow into a carry-on bag or personal item since it was too big.
While less flexible than our top choice, the J-absence Pillow’s of a neck attachment may be a benefit for individuals who find traditional U-shaped travel pillows to be too confining. The J-Pillow also provided great head, neck, and front-facing/chin support when we could rest against a hard surface. It comes with a durable (albeit less compact) travel bag that attaches to your luggage, much like the Cabeau S3. There are no covers or zippers to deal with, and the whole cushion is machine washable.
Turtl Pillow (Amazon.com; $39.99)
The Turtl was the most portable pillow we examined, since it is basically a cushioned neck brace. It folds up small and compactly, taking up virtually no room in your baggage, and one of our taller testers appreciated the strong support. However, the Turtl was much too large for our shorter tester, and both testers could feel the center plastic bracing pushing through the cushioning. We didn’t like that you have to fully unwrap and rewrap the pillow around your neck if you want to change the side you’re sleeping on (which makes sense given that you’re basically wearing a wool scarf), and we didn’t like that you have to fully unwrap and rewrap the pillow around your neck if you want to switch sides.
Cabeau Evolution Classic Pillow ($29.99; bedbathandbeyond.com) is a pillow designed by Cabeau.
Cabeau’s original Evolution model is a good travel cushion that’s also less expensive than our top choice. However, it misses the straps, a more breathable cover, and a much better casing seen on the S3. If you had to choose between the two, the S3 is well worth the extra money.
Compressible Travel Pillow by Therm-a-Rest ($24.95; backcountry.com)
Therm-a-collapsible Rest’s cushion is a great lightweight alternative to include in your luggage for camping or hiking excursions. When used as a regular pillow, it compresses into a little roll and provides both support and comfort (i.e., when lying down). It’s not a great choice for attempting to rest while sitting upright since it doesn’t wrap around your neck or have any straps to hold it in place.
Bcozzy Chin-Supporting Travel Pillow ($29.97; amazon.com) is a chin-supporting travel pillow by Bcozzy.
Bcozzy’s famous pillow didn’t provide nearly as much neck support as our top choice, and the material, although soft to the touch, didn’t feel as luxury. On the positive side, it’s tiny and light, and it can be folded in half for additional support if you have a surface to rest against (otherwise, it’ll slide about).
($39.95; amazon.com) Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow
The Travelrest bestseller is a well-made and extremely soft pillow, but its memory foam was excessively stiff in our tests, and the pillow’s sides were so tall that they pressed against our faces uncomfortably. It was also difficult to compress the pillow into its traveling case due to its rigidity. The Cabeau versions had squishier memory foam and a shorter side profile, which we preferred.
Infinity Pillow by Huzi Design ($39.90; amazon.com)
If you know you’ll be leaning against anything hard, the Huzi can be manipulated into a really comfortable posture. However, it needs an instructional guide to do so, and it doesn’t provide much neck support on its own. While we like (adored!) the Huzi’s smooth, breathable bamboo fabric, it lacked a traveling bag and took up a lot of room in our luggage.
Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow ($10.85; amazon.com) is a microbead travel neck pillow made by Cloudz.
Although the popular microbead pillow is light and cheap, its low profile leaves a lot to be desired in terms of neck support. We didn’t like the way the microbeads felt and sounded on our ears, and the pillow didn’t come with a travel bag. Given that it isn’t machine washable, this isn’t a pillow you’d want to rub your face against for an extended period of time. During the weeks that we tried, we also saw that it began to flatten out a little with continuous usage.
($19.99; amazon.com) AirComfy Ease Travel Pillow
The AirComfy Ease is a good option if you want a very light and portable lumbar cushion. This is just too stiff, too tiny, and too slippery to be useful as a flexible travel cushion. It connects to the back of any seat for further support, although it isn’t very comfy. Inflatability is great in theory, but it feels like sleeping on a fuzzy balloon in reality.
More from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing may be found here:
The trtl travel pillow is a lightweight, inflatable pillow that allows users to sleep in any position. It has been rated as the best travel pillow of 2021.
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Travel pillows are a great way to stay comfortable when sleeping on an airplane or in a hotel room. They are also useful for people who have trouble with their neck, back, or hip pain while traveling.
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