Lighter and more diminutive than your bed pillow at home, travel pillows vary widely in terms of their style, size, composition, comfort, and cost.
However, there are two broad categories of travel pillows:
- Some travel pillows are designed to provide head and neck support so you can sleep while you’re in transit—on long-haul flights, train rides, and road trips.
- Others are intended to cradle your head and neck for a better night’s sleep once you arrive at your destination.
With most airlines no longer offering pillows on board and travelers feeling queasy about resting their heads on someone else’s pillow, the pandemic has made personal travel pillows more of a necessity. They make a perfect gift for the traveler on your holiday shopping list.
Forbes.com has compiled this list of some of the best travel pillows for 2021 for different types of travelers with different needs and preferences:
Duxiana Travel Pillow
The Duxiana Travel Pillow exudes luxury in its looks as well as its materials and craftsmanship. This fluffy white pillow is right-sized at 16×20” and folds in half to fit inside a black zippered carry bag with a convenient rope handle. It’s perfect to tuck in a suitcase or to place on top of the “communal” one you’ll find at the hotel or rental property at your destination. And it’s also handy to use when flying or traveling by car.
The 100% cotton cover filled with hypoallergenic white goose down is covered with a 300 thread-count sateen slip-on pillowcase. Made in Canada, and yes, the pillow and its coverings can be machine washed and dried.
Priced at $139
C Cushion Lab Ergonomic Travel Neck Pillow
If you’re flying, this Ergonomic Travel Neck Pillow by C Cushion Lab might even be more sleep-inducing than counting sheep. Made of cushiony, high-density memory foam, it wraps around your neck offering good support, and it comes with a strap and clip to adjust its fit. Once in place, you can rotate it to the left or right to provide support for your head, neck, and chin. The zippered cover can be removed for washing.
We loved its compactness, weighing less than a pound (about 12 ounces). It rolls up like a snail starting with the widest end and comes with a handy elastic strap (attached so you don’t lose it) to compress it for packing into its storage pouch. The pouch has a handy carabiner coupling clip that can be easily attached to a carry-on or tote bag for easy access. The pillow comes in a variety of colors.
Priced at $58
Mer Sea Classic Wrap: Convertible Wrap and Pillow In One
Even savvy travelers find it impossible to predict the cabin temperature on their next flight. Airlines generally aim for a happy spot at 75℉, which might be just right for flight attendants but can feel too cold for the rest of us. Moreover, quirky ventilation systems often create fluctuations in temperature over the course of a flight. One innovative travel company, Mer Sea, has come up with an elegant solution that allows passengers to both take the chill out of the air and catnap comfortably.
Stylish Mer Sea wraps—”made for wandering spirits”—come packaged in a matching travel bag that can serve as an airline pillow. The one-size-fits-all Charleston wrap, which comes in several different colors, has a curved neckline and gracefully falls over the body with a beautiful drape. And it’s fashionable enough to wear to dinner once you get to your destination. Hand washable, both the wrap and pillow bag are made of all-natural fibers, an ultra-soft, cotton/cashmere blend that keep you feeling all-weather comfortable.
Priced at $149
Travel Pillow by St. Geneve
This is the luxury keepsake pillow you’ll want to have as your regular travel companion, almost like a blankie, and pass it down to your kids. Based on your preference, you can choose the type of filling that works best for you, either white goose down, duck down, down and feather, or hypoallergenic polyester. Extra pillowcases are available for purchase in cream, white or ivory to use when the original one is being laundered.
The ample 16×20 size is perfect for placing on top of a hotel pillow, achieving the same comfort you feel at home. Made in Canada, both the pillow and cover, are machine-washable/dryable. The 100% cotton pillowcase is also dust and mite-proof, and the pillow folds to fit into its own handy zippered carry bag.
Available from Fine Linens, prices range from $110.90 for white goose down to as little as $31.96 for polyester.
TempurPedic Travel Neck Pillow
Do you crave head, neck, and shoulder support when you lay down to sleep? No need to wonder whether the owner of your rental property or the hotel pillow concierge will have a solution. Just bring your own TempurPedic Travel Neck Pillow on your next trip. Its compact size and shape—that rolls up into its own all-weather, zippered tote bag—make it easy to stash in a backpack or your carry-on luggage.
At 10x12x4 inches, this extra-firm, ergonomic pillow adjusts to the contours of your body and is a scaled-down version of the company’s popular TEMPUR-Neck Pillow. The washable cotton and polyester cover zips over a piece of molded polyurethane foam. When flying, it offers comfort and can buffer the plane sounds at a window seat. Many users become so attached that they continue using them at home.
Priced at $79
Sierra Designs DriDown Pillow
California-based Sierra Designs has been creating innovative products for outdoor adventurers for more than 50 years. The DriDown Pillow is perfect for backpackers, campers, and glampers—and everyone else. This versatile down-filled ultra-light pillow weighs only 2.7 ounces.
The 13 x 9 x 2.5″ pillow is filled with responsibly sourced down. The attractive gray quilt-stitched covering is trimmed in blue; its water-resistant fabric offers both warmth and comfort. To lighten the load on your back even more, you can remove the synthetic inner pillow and stuff the cover with clothes or underwear. The pillow comes with its own pull-string stuff sack for easy storage.
Priced at $29.95
Scandia Home Down Travel Pillow & Cover
Scandia Home—best known for its soft, sensuous down bedding products—produces travel accessories that allow travelers to bring the comforts of home to their homes away from home. Although it folds compactly for storage, the company’s 16×22” Down Travel Pillow & Cover is one of the most generously sized travel pillows on the market.
Designed for soft support, the pillow is filled with Hungarian white goose down covered in 245 thread-count cotton twill ticking. It comes paired with a 300 thread-count crisp white, Egyptian cotton woven striped cover with a zipper closure and ribbon ties so it can be easily rolled up in a suitcase. Available from Pioneer Linens, it’s hypoallergenic; professional dry cleaning is recommended.
Priced at $132