Airport Fashion & Beauty Health & Wellness In-Flight Experience Packing

8 Neck Pillows That Won’t Embarrass You on the Plane

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.

Trtl Pillow

best neck pillows

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

best neck pillows

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.

J Pillow

best neck pillows

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

best neck pillows

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

best neck pillows

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

best neck pillows

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

best neck pillows

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

best neck pillows

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.

More from SmarterTravel:

Associate Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider,,, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC,, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Plenty of extra thick hair elastics. They tame my frizzy curls and come in handy in a surprising number of packing and hotel dilemmas."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Climbing (yes, climbing, it's steep!) the Great Wall of China before it's gone."

Travel Motto: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window, of course."

Email Shannon at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *