The best travel pillows of 2023: six comfy designs reviewed

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Infinity Pillow worn in two ways

We’ve all been there, struggling to get comfortable on a long journey. Luckily, travel pillows can help support the head and neck, whether you’re travelling by car, train or plane, or just relaxing in a terminal or waiting room.

We’ve reviewed six popular choices to find the best travel pillows you can buy this year.

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How we tested 

We judged these travel pillows on their comfort, support and cushioning, and considered how simple they were to use. We looked at their packability and whether they were easy to carry and clean, and versatile enough to work well in different settings. We also judged them on style. 

Best travel pillow for 2023 – tested by experts

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Traveller Pillow

Best inflatable travel pillow

4.0 out of 5 star rating
  • 70g
  • 39 x 29 x 11cm (10 x 8 x 5cm when stored)
  • Zip-up carry case included

When you think of travel pillows, inflatable designs like this one are probably the first thing to pop into your head. You’ll see them in every airport departure lounge, and they’re an inexpensive and convenient choice for long journeys. So, how did we rate this one?

It certainly feels like a high quality item. Unroll the pillow and you can inflate it in less than three breaths. While the cushion isn’t at its comfiest when fully inflated, the in-built press valve makes it easy to adjust the firmness and release a bit of air.

There’s also a three-point press stud strap at the front, so you can tighten or loosen the travel pillow around your neck. At the back, the cushion narrows, which makes it easier to sit back against seats and headrests.

When it comes to comfort, this travel pillow split our testers; while it was a firm favourite for some, others gave it a low score. The inflatable pillow does seem to slip out of place slightly, and doesn’t allow you to ‘sink in’, unlike some of the foam-filled designs on test.

However, the soft, hand-washable fabric gets big plus points, and the pillow is impressively compact too. It weighs just 70g and folds up to 10 x 8 x 5 cm when packed in the carry case. It does take a bit of wrangling to get the travel pillow deflated and back into the case, but when you do it hardly takes up any space at all – perfect for those who like to travel light.

Pros: small, lightweight, easy to use, washable

Cons: split testers – not as comfy as some of the foam-filled pillows

Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow

Best long length travel pillow

2.0 out of 5 star rating
  • ‎158g
  • 22.7 x 8.9 cm rolled up
  • Rolls up

With its long, thin shape, Travelrest’s Ultimate pillow has a completely different look to others on the market. It’s designed to sit diagonally or vertically on your body, with the wider upper section nestled between your head and neck. Meanwhile, the long strap slips across your back or over “the wings of an airline seat” or attaches to a car headrest.

In practice, we found the design a little clunky. It’s easy to inflate with little effort – just three or four breaths – and it deflates again in seconds. The pillow is better when it’s a little deflated but it still didn’t beat other travel pillows for comfort. There’s quite a sharp seam running down the inside edge, which some testers found irritating against their neck, and if you want to switch position, you have to completely reconfigure the pillow to get support on the other side of your head.

The strap attachments are also quite fiddly to adjust, and when you roll up the pillow for storage, the press studs are hard to connect – not ideal for people with limited hand strength.

On the plus side, we did appreciate the selection of attractive colours, which could be down to the velvet-like material. The choice includes deep red, navy and moss green.

Pros: attractive colourways

Cons: complicated set-up and adjustment, uncomfortable compared to other pillows

Travelrest Nest Ultimate Memory Foam Pillow

Best memory foam travel pillow

5.0 out of 5 star rating
  • 380g
  • ‎30.5 x 27.9 x 12.7 cm
  • Stuff sack included

Thanks to its unusual, contoured shape and firm cushioning, this travel pillow gives a great first impression. According to the makers, it’s filled with thermo-sensitive memory foam, and it does feel highly supportive against the head and neck.

Unlike all the other designs we’ve tested, this one tapers to a point at the back, which pushes the front down to support your shoulders when you’re leaning against a tall chair, headrest or wall. This clever design detail makes it the best travel neck pillow we’ve tried here.

The cover material also gets a big tick from us. Not only is it genuinely soft and comforting, but it’s also removable for easy cleaning. Plus, it comes with a non-slip panel on the underside of the back section to keep it in place against your chair.

You can get a tighter or looser fit by quickly adjusting the hook-and-loop fastener at the front. The pillow does come up quite high on your head and could irritate your ears, but this didn’t cause a problem for any of our testers.

The handy stuff sack is another impressive feature of the Nest pillow. It has both a closure toggle and a hook-and-loop strip to compress the cushion down even further. The only slight niggle is storage; Travelrest says not to store the pillow in the stuff sack long-term, so ideally you’d keep it outside of its bag at home.

In short, the Nest is comfy and simple to use, so we’d say it’s one of the best travel pillows you can buy.

Pros: comfy, easy to use, supports the head, neck and shoulders, washable cover

Cons: have to store it outside of its stuff sack

Infinity Pillow

Best for versatility

4.5 out of 5 star rating
  • 550g
  • 85 x 28cm (packs down to 19 × 19cm)
  • Travel case for an extra £10

As you might expect from its name, the Infinity Pillow is one long loop of plush fabric with a single twist. The clever design makes it easy to ‘double up’ the cushion into two smaller loops around your neck.

The real game-changer here is the pillow’s versatility. The packaging lists eight different ways to wear it, from pulling and tucking it around your neck like a scarf to looping it around both elbows to use as a lower back support. There are also options for window naps, desk naps and even blocking out aeroplane noise.

Some testers preferred the soft padding of this pillow to some of the harder inflatable and memory foam designs on test. With the right configuration, you can almost recreate a standard pillow against walls and windows.

The construction is another big plus point here. The Infinity Pillow is made with bamboo, which provides sustainability, breathability and temperature regulation in one neat package. As an added bonus, the entire cushion is machine-washable, so refreshing it after travelling is easy.

If we had to give one criticism, it would be the storage. The pillow arrives rolled up in a stylish cotton strip with a hook-and-loop fastener, but packing it back up is a struggle. The pillow tends to spring out before you can fasten the strip, which would be annoying when travelling through an airport and wrangling cumbersome bags and suitcases. You can buy Infinity Pillow’s carry case to match, but it’ll cost you an extra £9.99.

Pros: highly versatile, soft, breathable, sustainable fabric, lots of colour options

Cons: hard to pack down, larger and heavier than other options

Cabeau Evolution TNE 3 Travel Pillow

Best for chin support

4.0 out of 5 star rating
  • 399g
  • ‎24.1 x 15.4 x 14.7 cm
  • Bag included

Featuring a seat strap system and adjustable chin rest, this travel pillow takes the standard design a step or two further.

Starting with the positives, the memory foam core and soft cushioning is comfortable and provides a good level of firmness. Some testers noted the cool-looking two-tone design, while others thought it seemed overly technical for a soft neck pillow. On the plus side, the cover is machine-washable for easy cleaning.

Although the chin strap doesn’t quite reach the chin, even at an angle, it does keep the two ends of the pillow together to support the head. The raised side supports might irritate anyone with sensitive ears, but we didn’t find it caused any discomfort.

The unusual seat strap system makes this option one of the best travel neck pillows for anyone who wants to connect their cushion to their seat. The elasticated vertical straps are useful for stretching over separate headrests, but the pillow could do with horizontal straps as well to make it easier to slip over the top of other chairs. Ultimately, this travel pillow might be better suited to cars than coach, train and plane seats that don’t have a separate headrest.

According to the makers, the pillow squashes down to a third of its size inside the storage bag, which comes with a smart carry handle. It’s easy to pack up and comes with a set of ear plugs – a nice touch. Like other travel pillows, this one should be kept outside of the bag when you get home, which makes it slightly less convenient to store than inflatable versions.

Pros: attaches to car headrests, chin strap closure, technical look, good storage bag

Cons: seat strap system could be improved, can’t store in the bag

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow

Best for camping

4.0 out of 5 star rating
  • 210g (S) / 300g (M) / 420g (L)
  • 38cm (S) / 46cm (M) / 56cm (L)
  • ‘Cinch-in’ cover

While Therm-a-Rest’s compressible pillow takes the form of a standard cushion, it packs down just as small as some of the plush neck pillows on test. To open it up, you just unfasten the toggle and pull the cushion into shape. Then you can adjust the level of firmness using the cinch cord. The process is quick and easy, and although the pillow feels quite lumpy once unfurled – possibly because it’s made with repurposed foam from Therm-a-Rest’s sleeping pad manufacturing lines – the lumps aren’t noticeable against your face.

The rectangular shape makes this one of the best travel pillows for camping, and would be more comfortable than using a coat or jumper, but it would also work well for long journeys. The soft, machine-washable material gets a big thumbs-up from us, too.

We also love the choice of three sizes and many fun prints available. We tried the Medium, which was big enough to use for camping or travelling.

Pros: versatile, choice of sizes and patterns, recycled materials

Cons: not specifically designed for neck support

How to use a travel pillow

As most travel pillows have simple, ergonomic designs, using them is easy. The first step to take is to adjust it to your requirements. For inflatable pillows, this means blowing it up to the ideal firmness.

Next, put it into position around your neck or against a nearby wall or window. You may want to adjust your head to find the most comfortable angle and make sure the pillow is supporting you fully.

Depending on your pillow, you may need to secure it too, by clicking straps to connect the two sides, adjusting a chin strap or attaching the back of the pillow to your travel seat or headrest.

What to look for in a travel pillow

The most important feature of any travel pillow is the level of support and comfort it can provide. Cushioned and memory foam designs can mould to your body, while inflatable options usually have valves so you can adjust the firmness. Look out for options with adjustable straps if you want extra support.

As you’ll probably be carrying your travel pillow with you, it’s also important to choose a compact and lightweight design. Some can be deflated and rolled up, while foam options often come with carry pouches.

You might also want to consider how you’ll be using your travel pillow. U-shaped neck supports are ideal for sitting upright in cars, trains and planes, while compressible rectangular cushions will be a versatile choice, suitable for future camping trips.

The best travel pillows are also washable, or have a removable cover you can throw in the washing machine.

Going camping? See our favourite camping pillows you can buy right now.