A Guide to The Best Travel Pillow for Long Haul Flights

best travel pillow for long haul flights

One of the top accessories to have on your long-haul trips – whether it’s somewhere exotic or not – is a travel pillow. They are small, typically take a horseshoe-type shape and offer your neck some nice cradled comfort as you try and catch some extra time in the Land of Nod while sitting in an upright position.

Comfort is king, so making sure you have the right pillow is important. I’ve got the lowdown on some of the best travel pillow for long haul flights that will help you stay nice and relaxed as you possibly can during your journey.

Your Initial Considerations

Before you choose the pillow of your dreams (no pun intended), there are some important things to consider. Having an idea of these will make it easier to choose the right travel pillow for you.

While you can listen to advice from friends and family on what they have chosen, you cannot outright take that guidance to go on and find something for you. Because what suits one person, might not be ideal for the next.

First and foremost, as there’s not really anywhere to lean your head on while on a plane, you should be looking at one with more support around your neck like the classic ‘U’ shaped pillows that are regularly seen hanging from lots of suitcases in the airport.

With this in mind though, you should be sure to find a travel pillow that’s big enough for your neck’s needs; after all, we don’t all have the same size neck!

Let’s take a look at these informative pointers for selecting the best travel pillow for long haul flights:

best travel pillow for long haul flights

What kind of neck support? How do you sleep while travelling? If you need support for your neck more so than most people, a memory foam or inflatable pillow could be the best choice. If you’re a forward tilter, a neck brace style pillow or one that can attach at the front might be your best bet.

What fabric? If you’re heading to warmer climates, a fleece lined pillow is not going to be the greatest choice. Likewise, a cotton or smooth plastic travel pillow won’t see you get the most from it if you are in chilly climates. Hence, think about the fabric that suits your travel destinations.

What size? If you aren’t concerned with how much stuff you are carrying with you, then microbead pillows (which do not reduce in size) or the memory foam options might be your choice. Just as long as they provide the comfort and support you’re after.

However, for the light travelers it’s probably going to have to be the lightweight, small pillows (possibly inflatable ones that fold away neatly and can be stored in small spaces) you’ll need to look for.

What weight? Typically, you’ll be hard pushed to find a travel pillow that’s heavy, so this isn’t really a concern unless you are being very precise on weight.

What durability? Are you travelling a lot, or planning on several long-haul trips over the next few years? If so, then it’s always worth forking out that little bit extra for a travel pillow that will last.

As the saying goes, “buy cheap, buy twice”, and this still stands when it comes to your travel pillow. If you end up with a memory foam pillow then the minor nicks and slight damage won’t affect it, but microbead pillows and obviously inflatable ones, won’t hold up to that kind of damage and they’ll need to be repaired.

The Best Travel Pillow For Long Haul Flights

Now when you know about the initial considerations, you can make a better-informed decision on the type of pillow that best suits your requirements. I’ve honed in on memory foam, inflatable and microbead versions as three viable options to choose from. Let’s start with memory foam:

Memory foam: If you aren’t clued up on memory foam, these pillows are formed using a high-density foam that offers the firmest, most dependable support for the neck.

You can compress them down to around half their usual size when you aren’t using them. And because the foam can be squished, you can put it in your bag and it’ll shape to the space.

Memory foam is often considered to be the most comfortable design in tests. But just like finding the right mattress, something that suits one person might be the worst choice for another.

What memory foam gives you is firm memory foam moulding that shapes to your neck. While remaining firm and high on your neck.

Inflatable: The inflatable travel pillows you buy are almost always the u-shaped ones that can be blown up to fit the level of firmness that suits you. Having said that, there’s always that bit of air that comes out when you take your lips off of the valve!

The great thing about an inflatable pillow is they can be stashed away to the point you wouldn’t know it was there. You can also buy some that have a nice fabric cover for the inflated pillow that will help with additional comfort.

If it’s convenience you’re looking for, and you are easily pleased in the comfort department, then an inflatable pillow will be right up your alley. What’s more, they’re known for being the cheapest on the budget scale as well. Hence, travelers looking to save on those pennies will be drawn to the inflatables.

best travel pillow for long haul flightsMicrobead: These pillows provide you with a lightweight u-shaped option. The filling is small polystyrene beads that alter in shape to fit the contours of your neck, giving you both comfort and support.

For the environmentally conscious, this might not be the best options in case it breaks. And you might find the other two types provide superior comfort, mainly because these pillows don’t sit up very high on your neck and can incur uncomfortable dips which, sadly, are usually where you need the support.

Certainly, the least travel-friendly to pack into small spaces, and general portability. But, again, I should reiterate everything is down to personal choice and requirements. Hence, just take on board what I’ve given you and use the info to make the right choice.

Best Travel Pillow For Long Haul Flights: Final Thoughts

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind there are some outside runners you may want to give a go before deciding on the best travel pillow for long haul flights.

There are some interesting designs out there, such as travel pillows with hoods for people who want to have that extra bit of privacy. Or indeed, benefit from the added darkness if sleep is on the agenda. Alternatively, there are long pillows that act like an arm ‘cuddling’ you to support the upper body as well as the head/neck region.

These are just two of the alternatives you can try, but ultimately, the choice is yours. And with the tips and information I’ve given you, hopefully, you’ll always be able to travel in comfort!


Did you like reading my article about the best travel pillow for long haul flights?

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