Fun Travel StuffTravel

My Review Of The 2 Best Travel Pillows: 1) Memory Foam Inflatable Neck Pillow 2) My Pillow Travel-size

These days, just about everyone has a travel pillow. Right?

In search of the best travel pillow for car rides, plane trips, camping, and more? Start here.

Most people use them whenever they’re traveling on airplanes.

I use mine when I’m traveling on a plane, driving long distances in a car, and when I’m camping.

My travel pillow is so comfortable that I actually use it for more than just short trips when I need a place to rest my head temporarily. I also use it for sleeping comfortably through the night at hotels and at friends’ & relatives’ houses.

Here are my 2 all-time favorite travel pillows…

Best Memory Foam Travel Pillow

I used to do long-distance bike rides all the time.

I was cycling 60 miles or more a day just about every weekend when I lived in Florida. And when I wasn’t riding leisurely on my own or with friends, I was participating in 2- and 3-day bike rides cycling up to 100 miles a day.

if you're looking for the best travel pillow - like everything else you take camping with you -- needs to be lightweight, yet firm and big enough to sleep comfortably on. photo by OctopusHat on Flickr

Overnight bike trips require overnight camping. And the smaller (and lighter) your camping gear is, the better!

In case you’re wondering… there are SAG vehicles (Support and Gear) which follow behind the slower riders to make sure that no rider is left behind. Those same vehicles also transport all of the riders’ gear (tent, clothes, bedding, personal care necessities, etc.) from campsite to campsite.

So that’s when I first started using this particular travel pillow. And I still use it to this day — well over a decade later — every single time I travel.

This is a wonderful inflatable travel pillow and I LOVE it! photo by Lynnette at

Why I Like This Inflatable Travel Pillow

It’s not just a neck pillow. It’s an all-in-one sleeping pillow that also serves as a temporary neck rest pillow. It’s more like a camping pillow in that it’s larger in size than most travel pillows — yet it packs small and is lightweight. Personally, I can’t stand those u-shaped travel pillows. They’re just neck rests, not sleeping pillows!

It has an inflatable bladder in the very center and a piece of memory foam on both sides of the bladder — so it’s firm, yet soft. Most travel pillows are typically either/or. You usually get just the inflatable bladder (so they’re too rigid and your head slides off or you get a sore neck) or just the memory foam (so they’re too soft & wimpy and you hardly get any support at all).

You can see how the inflatable travel pillow has a bladder that rests between 2 thick pieces of memory foam. Then that is surrounded by a soft fleece cover. photo by Lynnette at  The best travel pillow and cover. photo by Lynnette at

It can be inflated to a level of firmness that’s most comfortable for you. When using it as a sleeping pillow, I don’t fully inflate the bladder because I don’t want it to be like I’m resting my head on a rock! Instead, I underinflate it a bit so that I can move my head around and it conforms to my head each time. When using it as a backrest (leaning against a gymnasium wall to read a book, for example), I do fully inflate the bladder in order to get the most support and prop myself up a bit.

It’s a cinch to adjust the amount of air that’s in the bladder. Just push in the inflation valve (while your head is resting on it) to let some air out, then pull out the inflation valve to lock it in place. Need a little more air? Just blow directly into the inflation valve. It’s a super heavy-duty valve that is durable and stands the test of time. It doesn’t bend or kink in any way.

This is a closeup look at the inner workings showing exactly how this inflatable travel pillow works -- with the bladder fully inflated. photo by Lynnette at  This shows another closeup with the inflatable travel pillow bladder complete deflated. By the way, you don't need to remove the cover to inflate or deflate this travel pillow. These photos are simply to show the inner workings. photo by Lynnette at

The pillow cover is soft and comfortable — not slick or scratchy. Many travel pillows have nylon pillow covers (similar to luggage) or no pillow covers at all. This travel pillow has a soft fleece cover.

The pillow cover is removable and washable! I’ve washed mine several times. It comes off easily and goes back on just as quickly each time. The soft fleece cover actually gets softer every time you wash it.

It packs small because it folds into itself (much like a pack jacket does — which is another one of my favorite pack & go items). Just leave the inflation valve “open” to expel all the air as you’re rolling it up into itself. Then, once it’s folded as small as you can get it, “close” the inflation valve and it will stay in that shape until you release the valve again. This means it packs smaller and expands bigger than most travel pillows!

This photo shows how my choice for the best travel pillow folds into itself. After opening the red nozzle on the end, just start folding the pillow into itself to squeeze out the air. photo by Lynnette at  This photo shows what the inflatable travel pillow looks like as soon as you unfold it from its self-folding pocket. Next, just turn the red nozzle to open it and blow a couple of quick puffs of air into it. Finally, turn the red nozzle closed. photo by Lynnette at

It can also be used as a lumbar support pillow. If you’re driving or sitting in a chair, you can inflate this pillow just enough to give you some lower back support — just as a lumbar pillow would. Or, after removing all of the air and folding it into itself, just tuck it behind your back for a soft cushion that provides a little extra support. Most travel pillows cannot give you this level of firmness (for the times when you want added support) and this much softness (for the times when you want the most comfortable rest).

The construction of this pillow makes it incredibly durable and long-lasting. I’ve had mine for over 10 years now, and it shows no signs of aging!

Now For The Bad Part…

I don’t know what brand this pillow is, who made it, or where I got it.

I think I got it at REI — because that’s where I got most of my other lightweight packable camping gear for those cycling trips. And that’s where I continue to turn first whenever I’m on the hunt for the latest and greatest outdoor gear.

Fortunately, there are other travel pillows that are made similarly and available online…

Similar Inflatable Travel Pillows

The best I can tell, these are the travel pillows that most closely compare to my memory foam inflatable travel pillow:

Thermarest Compressible Pillow

Thermarest compressible pillow - similar to the best travel pillow I bought

My self-inflating, compressible sleeping pad (which I bought at the same time as this pillow and still use whenever I’m camping) is a Thermarest. It’s one of the best brands available as far as lightweight, packable gear goes! The reviews for this travel pillow speak volumes.

MinEzzz Travel Pillow 

The MinnEzzz inflatable travel pillow - similar to the best travel pillow I bought

This pillow combines the best of both worlds like my travel pillow does: an inner core that’s inflatable to whatever firmness you desire, plus a “real” soft pillow on which to rest your head. Plus it’s larger than many travel pillows, yet still lightweight. Both the pillow and the cover are also washable! (Here’s a video showing how the pillow is made.)

Cocoon AirCore Pillow

The Cocoon AirCore Ultralight inflatable travel pillow - similar to the best travel pillow I bought

While this pillow is a little wimpier than mine (and the Thermarest pillow), it is recommended as a decent travel pillow. It compresses into a smaller size than mine (and the Thermarest pillow), and it’s extremely lightweight. If you don’t need much support, then this is a great travel pillow. (Here’s another version of the same pillow, plus a few more reviews.)

Zami Travel Pillow

The Zami inflatable travel pillow - similar to the best travel pillow I bought

This one is super-versatile! It’s got 3 separate air chambers which enable you to use this durable pillow in a number of different ways. Check out this video which shows how the Zami pillow works.

Travelon Self-Inflating Pillow 

The Travelon self-inflatable travel pillow - similar to the best travel pillow I bought

While it’s called a “neck and back” pillow, this one is a tad larger than some of the others and I like its features enough to recommend it as a sleeping pillow. (Yes, I myself would use it as such.) I like it because it’s self-inflating, washable (though it should not be immersed in water), and it packs really small. (More details and a video here.)

Best Travel Pillow That’s Like A Standard Pillow

The folks at MyPillow now make a travel pillow… and it’s awesome!

As soon as I saw it, I ordered the My Pillow travel pillow.

One of the best travel pillow brands on the market - My Pillow

Here’s a video showing the key features of the MyPillow roll ‘n go travel pillow:

The reasons I like it so much:

  • I already use a regular, standard size My Pillow every night when I sleep. I love how it conforms to you and the way you sleep. It truly is different than any other pillow I’ve tried.
  • The My Pillow travel pillow is lightweight and packs super small (…like most travel pillows do).
  • But it packs even better than other travel pillows because of the way it’s made — the many foam chunks inside truly “smush” and conform into any space! I bet you could pack it as flat as a pancake, if you’d put enough heavy stuff on top of it.
  • It always bounces back to full size with some simple “plumping” of the pillow with your hands. (For extra plumpness, toss it into the clothes dryer for 5 to 10 minutes.)
  • It’s machine washable!… And dryable! So it will last forever. (It even comes with a 10-year warranty.)
  • The pillowcase is attached, so it’s all one piece — that means no parts to wash separately or keep track of. (You can also buy additional MyPillow pillowcases.)
  • It rolls into its own travel cover (pillowcase) like a pocket.
  • It’s great as a child-size pillow for everyday use, or a travel pillow for adults.

For what it’s worth, there’s even a My Pillow pet bed for your dog! It’s not a travel-sized pet bed, but it comes in many different sizes. I’m getting one for my dog when his current dog bed wears out.

What About A Down Travel Pillow?

See the pros and cons of using a down pillow as a travel pillow

For the record, as nice as a down pillow might sound when you’re camping or traveling — personally I would never want one (even though I sleep with 2 down pillows every night at home).

Here’s why…

When you’re camping and traveling, you’re often sweating, and sometimes you get rained on. (Because you can’t control the weather, right?)

Because of the many environments (and elements) that a travel pillow gets exposed to, constantly cleaning and maintaining a down travel pillow takes more effort than it’s worth — in my opinion.

My 2 favorite travel pillows are not high-maintenance pillows. They’re extremely durable — and comfortable — travel pillows that are definitely worth their weight in gold!

Well, that’s my 2 cents about travel pillows…

Helpful Travel Pillow Tips

In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you find the best travel pillow for your needs: