Travel pillows should be at the top of your packing list when taking a trip for a vacation, business meeting, or special occasion; there are the last places you want to suffer from body pains and exhaustion. Whether you are traveling by air, road or rail, using a pillow that you are personally comfortable with and accustomed to will keep you feeling fresh during and after your trip. Travel pillows come in different shapes, sizes, materials and coverings, so conducting a little bit of research to find that essential travel companion that's wallet-friendly, hassle-free, and provides you with the ultimate comfort will be well worth your time.

The first type of travel neck pillow is the inflatable model, which is your cheapest option and offers some, but minimal support. Inflatable pillows are worn around the neck while you are in a seated position. As you are sleeping, the pillow will help to keep your neck upright to avoid a sore neck and shoulders, while preventing you from slouching onto the next passenger's shoulders. The largest benefit of the inflatables is the ability to be deflated before and after your trip so that only a very small amount of storage space is needed; you could even carry it with you in your purse or briefcase! This type is also great because you are able to control how much air is put into the pillow so that essentially you control the level of firmness. When purchasing inflatable pillows, consider models with cotton or suede coverings as vinyl material has a tendency to become hot and sticky against your face.

The second type is the contour pillow model, which can be considered as a miniature version of your everyday pillow from your bedroom. This type can be used while you are seated or in a side sleeping position and can also be placed against your head as a headrest or your lower back as a comfortable support as you travel, drive or work at your desk. Similar to the inflatable type, the contour travel pillow works to prevent headaches, muscle soreness, and keep the breathing airway open to minimize any or prevent all snoring. These models may be slightly more comfortable because of the soft inserts inside the pillows; however, these are less supportive than the inflatables in keeping your neck upright.

The third type is the memory foam pillow, which is made from NASA-developed "space age" material. As expected, this type is quite pricey, but if you are a frequent traveler or often have difficulty sleeping, memory foam pillows do prove to be a worthwhile investment. Memory foam neck pillows provide superb comfort and support while traveling and can even be used to replace your bedroom pillows. These models are custom molds that are shaped to your body temperature, shape and weight, so that you are guaranteed nothing short of a perfect night's sleep. By providing a straight alignment between your neck and spine, these travel companions do the best job of reducing tensions in your neck, upper and lower back, and shoulders. The material is very compressible, so there should be no need for you to go out and purchase a bigger suitcase.

Next time you open your luggage or bag, and ponder your packing list, don't forget the travel pillow!