Travel neck pillows are a rare sight on airlines, buses and trains these days, but if you're planning a long trip, you don't have to give up this comfort any longer. Choosing high quality neck pillows for travel, however, might prove more difficult than you'd think with all the different types on the market. Should you choose an inflatable model or a pillow made of memory foam? Do you need orthopedic support or a cooling panel? In this article, we'll look at some of the best travel neck pillows available and give you tips on choosing the right product for your needs based on common features.

Inflatable Vs. Memory Foam

There are two primary types of travel neck pillows available - inflatable and memory foam. Inflatable pillows require much less space to store and carry with you, which makes them ideal for frequent travelers, especially on planes and buses. However, they are also prone to getting holes poked in them and leaking air. This happens more often in the less expensive brands, of course. Memory foam travel pillows, on the other hand, usually provide better support, but pillows made from this material are also larger, bulkier and more difficult to carry on planes. They are more suited to car travel, but they can be used for any type of travel if you have the extra space available.

Standard and Extra Features

Travel neck pillows should always come equipped with the following standard features:

  • Works on any seat in planes, buses, automobiles, airport terminals and wheelchairs
  • Small, compact size for easy storage and carrying
  • Supports your neck and head while you rest
  • If inflatable, the pillow should inflate in 3 to 4 breaths at most
  • If not inflatable, the pillow should roll up and store easily

In addition to these standard features, some travel neck pillows also come with extras. You can buy the most basic, inexpensive travel neck pillow with minimal features or spend a little more money for extra comfort. Some of the most common extra features you might find include:

  • Removable, fleece or suede pillow covers
  • Carrying pouch or bag for easier transport and storage
  • Made with hypoallergenic materials
  • Adjustable positions for the greatest comfort
  • Machine washable (if not inflatable)
  • Orthopedic support
  • Cooling panels

The Best Travel Neck Pillow Brands

Based on average customer reviews and ratings, the best inflatable travel neck pillow is the Davidsbeenhere Inflatable Travel Pillow, which is both inexpensive and convenient. It easily inflates in 3 to 4 breaths, provides excellent neck support and keeps your head in a comfortable position while you sleep, features a soft-touch microfleece outer, comes with a carrying pouch for easy storage, and gives you superior comfort compared to other inflatable travel pillows. Considering you can buy this pillow for under $20, you really can't beat the value. At the time of this writing, the Davidsbeenhere travel pillow has an rating of 5 out of 5 stars, the highest possible.

The best memory foam travel neck pillow now available is the Miracle Neck Rest - Memory Foam, which claims to take the strain and tension out of travel. This model does not push your neck and head forward like many travel neck pillows can, it is compact and lightweight, easy to carry and store, and it works in planes, trains, buses, automobiles, airport terminals and wheelchairs. This pillow also features a removable, washable cover, which makes cleaning much easier. At the time of this writing, the Miracle Neck Rest has an average customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 possible stars, and it costs less than $15. It's less expensive than the inflatable model, and will probably enjoy a longer life.