Unimpressed by some of the newest travel pillows to hit the market? Many are virtually unpackable or outright embarrassing, with armrest-mounted stands or bulky padding that makes them quite the spectacle. Luckily, over-engineered travel pillows aren’t the only way to sleep on the plane; some of the best neck pillows are also the most packable.
Best Neck Pillows for Plane Sleeping
Here are eight simple yet effective options that won’t embarrass you or take up unnecessary space, making them some of the best neck pillows out there.
A new travel pillow that’s not bulky or embarrassing, the Trtl Pillow is a bestseller on Amazon thanks to its discreet ergonomic neck support. One of the best neck pillows for plane sleeping, its sturdy neck support is less bulky than a pillow and disguised by a scarf-like wrap, so no one will know you’re propping up your sleepy head. The Trtl Pillow also packs flat, making it convenient as well.
Therm-A-Rest Self-Inflating Neck Pillow
An inflatable neck pillow sounds like a smart, packable gadget–until you’re grappling with pressure changes that can deflate it mid-nap. For a less pressure-susceptible place to rest your head, try Therm-A-Rest’s Self-Inflating Pillow, which is part foam and part inflatable for adjustable firmness. Deflate it for packing or blow in some air mid-flight to better support your head: It’s a versatile neck pillow for plane sleepers.
A plush, J-shaped cushion to support your neck and head when you’re dozing off to one side, the J-Pillow is heralded by many travelers (SmarterTravel editors included) as one of the best neck pillows for plane sleeping, especially in the window seat. Named the 2013 British Invention of the Year, this travel pillow was one of the first to have successfully strayed from the typical U-shaped travel pillow norm. Wedge this strategically shaped cushion between your head and the plane cabin wall, or use its chin support as a solution to the dreaded middle seat.
FLEXi 4-in-1 Convertible Travel Pillow
A versatile neck pillow for plane sleeping that also offers lumbar, side, and tray-table support, FLEXi’s Convertible Travel Pillow is made of microbeads that give it adjustable comfort and make it easier to pack. An included carrying bag gives you the option to stash it on your luggage handle or toss it in a purse. It comes with a 10-year warranty, and the outer case is removable for washing.
Tumi Packable Travel Jackets
Not technically a travel pillow until you pack it away, Tumi’s Packable Travel Jacket fits inside a U-shaped bag so you can stop sloppily rolling up your jacket to use it as a make-shift neck pillow. This hack means you can wear it instead of packing it in your carry on, making it the best neck pillow for ultra-light packers.
BCOZZY Chin-Supporting Pillow
Fussy sleepers should look to adjustable options for the best neck pillow. BCOZZY’s Chin-Supporting Pillow offers multiple support options: The ends overlap for extra support wherever you need it, or you can fold it in half for a window-resting option. The pillow can stop your head from falling forward or sideways, or simply provide plenty of cushioning.
Nemo Fillo HQ Travel Pillow
If travel pillows never seem to fit your neck, try an adjustable, brace-like option that has extra support. Nemo’s Fillo HQ Travel Pillow adjusts to fit most neck sizes and has more padding than most neck pillow options. Still, it can roll-up into a small package.
SmarterTravel Editor Ashley Rossi swears by this option: “NEMO’s Fillo HQ pillow rolls up well so it’s super packable, but still provides great support for long flights,” Rossi says. “I usually don’t sleep well on planes but was able to get a decent sleep on a recent transatlantic flight with this neck pillow. Plus, it’s adjustable and it has a machine-washable cover.”
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow
Inflatable neck pillows tend to be plastic or rubber, and can therefore be embarrassingly squeaky, almost as if you’re sleeping on a pool floatie. Sea to Summit’s Aeros Pillow, however, inflates but stays silent thanks to its attached outer polyester. This grants you the ease of flat-packing support without the disruptive sound or smell of plastic. It also comes with a protective carrying case and is narrow at the neck so your head won’t tilt forward.
For more pillow options, see The Best Neck Pillows for Travelers from Tripadvisor, SmarterTravel’s parent company.
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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.