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Neck Pillow

My husband and I have a trip coming up to Australia and New Zealand, from the east coast of the US. We have never used a travel or neck pillow on the plane but think this may the time to invest in one. Any suggestions as to what to buy?

Posted by
2674 posts

The best one we've found is this wrap around collar:,3661&T1=MC5352+BL. It allows the neck and shoulders to relax completely since the collar supports the head while sitting upright - it's the only one we've used that does that. The standard U shaped pillows have never worked for us - don't have support under the chin to keep the head from bobbing, drooping, and generally interrupting any sleep we might otherwise have gotten.
While not as compact as an inflatable, the foam does scrunch down into a relatively compact shape that doesn't take up much room in our carry on bag, With this pillow, a pair of soft ear plugs and some scalloped eye shades (and maybe half an Ambien) we can usually get 4 to 6 hours of quality sleep on long trans Pacific flights, and typically arrive well rested and ready to hit the ground running.

Posted by
681 posts

Robert, do you know how much that foam pillow weighs?

Posted by
2674 posts

Just a few ounces.
Weight isn't really the issue - the bulk of it could be. Worth it though (for us). We never travel without them when faced with a long transpacific or transatlantic flight.

Posted by
672 posts

Komfort Kollar also makes an inflatable neck pillow. My husband and I both have one and we like them. Same design as the foam one, but less weight and bulk.

There have been several threads here on the packing forum about neck pillows, including this one and this one-- you might want to try a search for other recommendations.

Good luck!

-- Deb

Posted by
35 posts

I live in Australia and have tried a variety of travel pillows on numerous long haul flights - inflatable, compression, you name it. Most were not comfortable or were a nuisance to store once we arrived at our destination.

The best I’ve found is available from a chain of stores here called Kathmandu. It’s a pillow filled with micro styrofoam beads. It can be used as a horseshoe shape or zipped up to form a rectangle.

I’m currently in Europe and used it on the 22 hour flight over. The horseshoe can be placed around your neck or turned upside down to keep your head in position on the seat back. I also used it in the rectangle shape as a back support while I was awake.

It weighs next to nothing and when spread out unzipped, packs relatively flat in the bottom of my suitcase. I’m sure something similar is available overseas. If not, then pick up one when you arrive for the trip home.

Posted by
6451 posts

I am a stomach or side sleeper, so leaning back isn’t very comfortable to fall asleep for me on a plane. I really like the Trtl travel pillow wrap and just used it on long-distance flights to/from Italy and also to/from Cambodia to the USA. It’s easy to store either on the outside pocket of my daypack or as the top item instead my daypack.

Posted by
703 posts

we have tried a few different pillows ( the usual U shape), with not much success.
last year ( to europe from australia etc) we used a 'J' pillow. a number of us used them ( on numerous flights/trains) and they worked reasonably good, at supporting your head/jaw. we bought ours on ebay for about $16. really not much compared to the price of the trip- so we thought of them as disposable, if required.
we were concerned about the bulk ( as they weren't the inflatable type) but we managed a 2 month trip with numerous flights.
we just strapped them on the outside of our luggage when going through the airports etc.
the J shape does allow you to position them in various ways and is much better than the U shape IMO. they could 'possibly' be improved if they had some sort of strap to ensure they don't move, but otherwise good.
another option we use is an inflatable flat pillow, ( not cheap but very good)
it takes up no space and is great for filling the gap in the plane, between the wall or seats. allowing you to get comfy. its also handy in case the accomodation has limited pillow options.
hope this helps

Posted by
381 posts

Thank you for all of your great suggestions! Now we just need to make a decision!

Posted by
12154 posts

I use an inflatable pillow that comes in a soft material case. The material makes it more comfortable than just plastic on skin. The fact that it's inflatable allows me to adjust it to the right firmness (you don't have to blow them all the way up) and it's very little to pack when not in use. I also use it when my lodging doesn't offer pillows that work for me.

I'd advise against anything bulky - really anything that can't be deflated and shrunk down to an easy packable size. They may be marginally more comfortable but aren't worth lugging around your whole trip or worth paying a small fortune for.

Posted by
14 posts

I like the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Premium Traveller inflatable pillow. It's U-shaped, which I don't mind. It has a smaller back than sides so it doesn't push my head forward. It's super easy to inflate and deflate. The material doesn't get too hot. And best of all, it packs down really small, into a case that's about 3.75"x3"x1.5", and it's lightweight -- about 2.5 oz without case, 3.1 oz with case.

(Apologies if this post shows up twice. I had posted a reply previously but the system seems to have eaten it.)

Posted by
1662 posts

Hi stmurray,

From personal experience - on different trips, I used different neck pillows. While the memory foam ones are nice and solid - a few times, it was nice to put it down by my lower back in an airplane seat for extra comfort. But, they are a little bulky but not "really heavy."

I used a micro bead "squishy" pillow recently. It's super light, holds the neck in a nice position and keeps it form. Of course, after one's many uses, the micro beads and shape may change. But, it was not expensive anyway.

If you are near a TJMaxx or Marshalls or Bed, Bath & Beyond, check out neck pillows for "size." I stopped into a Job Lots one day and saw they sell travel pillows - all were memory foam, nicely made and were $7.99

Also, Walmart is selling a different version - a U-shaped pillow that can be turned inside out to become a "small rectangle" pillow. Outer cover is a soft plush. Pillow is good. Most pillows at any of the above-referenced stores range from $7.99 to $11.99 - averaging about $9.99.

Oh, in case you did not know - you can attach your neck pillow to your bag or luggage - it does not count as a personal item/carry on. Many travelers do this.

Posted by
3 posts

I think, this question for doctors, not for travellers. You need to consult.

Posted by
471 posts

Curious that no one's mentioned the Rick Steves inflatable - bad experiences??

Posted by
101 posts

I've got a horseshoe shaped inflatable neck pillow with some kind of fleece cover on it. Had it for years and it's always done the trick. I don't remember the brand name or where I got it but I'm sure there are similar ones available.