There’s a big difference between a good travel pillow and a great one. While you might think this is just something you can pick up at the airport and forget about—you might want to take a bit more time over your decision. That’s because the right travel pillow could have a dramatic impact on how much sleep you get. ANd that could be important, especially on long-haul flights without much comfort.

There’s a lot that goes into a good travel pillow, from the design and shape to the material used and how soft they are. You’ve probably seen inflatable travel pillows already, but are these the best sort? We’re going to have a look at a few issues in this article so you can know exactly how to choose the best travel pillow for you. Choosing the right one could be the difference between getting some good sleep on a plane or not. So how do you choose a good travel pillow?

What to look for when choosing a good travel pillow?

Many people make the mistake of simply buying the cheapest travel pillow they see when they’re in a rush at the airport. While you can get a few good cheap ones, you often get what you pay for. Your comfort and ability to get some good sleep shouldn’t be compromised. A low-quality travel pillow could actually make it harder for you to get to sleep, while a good one could improve things dramatically. You might be wondering what you need to look for when trying to choose a good travel pillow. If that’s the case, then keep reading…

How to choose the right sort of travel pillow

Before we look at things like durability, cost and materials, which play a big role in all the different types of travel pillows—we need to look at what those different types are and what their pros and cons might be. Here are the three main types of travel pillows:

Inflatable travel pillows

These are the most common, and also the cheapest. You can pick them up almost anywhere, and you don’t have to spend too much money on them. These inflatable pillows tend to be U shaped and are easy to store. The best thing about these is their portability. It’s easy to inflate and deflate them. You only need to blow into them, and they can be let down and put away with ease when you aren’t using one. Another benefit of this sort of travel pillow is how cheap they are.

Inflatable pillows are small and lightweight, making them ideal to travel with. However, there are a few drawbacks associated with inflatable pillows. Firstly, they aren’t the most comfortable. Not everyone likes either the shape or material of these pillows. Many travel pillows are made out of cheap plastic, although not all of them. While being lightweight and cheap, they’re easy to puncture and not very durable. Don’t expect your inflatable travel pillow to last a long time. If you want durability, you might want to look elsewhere.

Memory foam pillows

These travel pillows are much more durable, and they’re also a bit more expensive. But sometimes, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a long-lasting, durable and comfortable type of travel pillow, then memory foam ones fit the bill.

These pillows are probably the firmest travel pillows available, so they suit people who like or need a lot of head support. They are considered the most stable support for the neck as well. While some of these can be compressed to store, they aren’t anywhere near as portable or convenient as inflatable ones. You’re going to need the space to store them. They are also slightly heavier, although you shouldn’t notice this as they aren’t that heavy.

These might be the most expensive travel pillows, but they are also said to be the most comfortable and offer the most support. If you fly a lot, you might want to spend a bit more on one. You’ll have to decide whether you value portability, weight and cost over comfort and durability when you decide whether to get a memory foam pillow. Memory foam pillows can come in various shapes and sizes.

Microbead pillows

Another type of travel pillow is the microbead travel pillow. These are made up of lots of tiny beads (known as microbeads). These tend to be u-shaped and are lighter than memory foam pillows (although not as light as plastic inflatable ones). This makes them a good compromise between the two main types of travel pillows, as they provide an extra level of support compared to plastic variants. While they provide good neck support, but many say they aren’t as comfortable as even plastic pillows. You’ll have to try a few for yourself to see if they work for you. Microbead pillows aren’t very portable, either.

What else affects how to choose a good travel pillow?

Now we’ve looked at the three main types of travel pillows, we should have a look at what else might affect your decision. These are not specific to any one type of pillow as there is a lot of choice within each variant, but what else do you need to think about?


While plastic ones are generally cheaper and foam pillows tend to be more expensive, there’s still quite a lot of variation within each category. You can get slightly more expensive inflatable pillows that have better quality plastic and a nicer, more comfortable finish. Have a look at the costs associated with a few different types of pillows and see which ones might work for you.


The material used to cover your pillow is important, as your skin will be resting on it while you sleep. So it needs to be comfortable. You can get covers for plastic inflatable pillows that make them slightly nicer to sleep on. Make sure you aren’t allergic to the material that coats your travel pillow.


Many people like U-shaped pillows but these are hard to get into certain positions. You might like to a pillow that’s shaped like a traditional bed pillow. You can also choose from a number of different sizes.

Hopefully these tips have been enough to give you the information you need on travel pillows so you can choose the right one for you.

About the Author James S

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