I just completed a round the world trip with my partner and all within about 4 weeks. What ensued was an uncomfortable amount of time spent cooped up in Economy class on various budget airlines. Well aware of this inevitable discomfort, I decided to spend a bit of time looking in to travel pillows to alleviate the upcoming discomfort.
While most people do not bother with travel pillows but for those that do, it can dramatically change your enjoyment of travelling long haul. That bit of extra support in the right place or a soft welcoming pillow for your heavy head takes on new meaning in this age of increasingly smaller air plane seats and diminished legroom.
In my experience there are two main types of travel pillow, inflatable or foam filled. The inflatable travel pillows I have tried to date fit atop your shoulders for you head to rest on but never seem to be quite long enough for my neck or they deflate making them quite frustrating. The foam pillows hold their shape much better but are usually bulky which is a big turn off for me and I assume others that are repelled by the idea of adding more weight and dimensions to their luggage. Thus, I did not bother with looking at any more foam pillows.
Instead I purchased several alternatives and all three are very different to each other. I purchased them from a combination of Amazon and Kickstarter.
The Trtl cost be just under £25 on Amazon and came with free delivery which was rapid. The premise is a bit of cloth you wrap around your neck with solid structure within it that acts as a scaffolding around your neck, thereby taking the weight of your head. This folded in to nothing and despite having a long neck, it did provide me with a decent level of support but nowhere near enough to put help me relax and go to sleep.
After a few minutes of use, I noticed I had to relax with a straight back to receive the head support advertised and when I slumped to the side (which always happens before I fall asleep in a seat) the support was not there which was disappointing. I also felt that the stuffiness that accompanies long haul flights meant that this type of product quickly became too stifling to wear for too long.
The second product I purchased was the Travel Rest from Amazon which cost me £19.98. This is a cross body inflatable that gives me support for my upper body, neck and head. It also comes with a string that you can tie round your shoulder or waist to hold it in place. While simple, this pillow was much more effective at providing support to me in the plane seat than the Trtl, particularly over the 10 hour flight to Hawaii!
It is easy to inflate, deflate and packs in to much less than the Trtl when fully deflated. Overall, I was very impressed with this product.
The third product I purchased was the Power Siesta, made in Puerto Rico and funded on Indiegogo. It is available to buy on Kickstarter and Indiegogo still but not sure where else. The cost is circa $25 and this item and as it is shipping from North America, the shipping is high at $15. That said, I expect this to be available on Amazon in the not so distant future where I expect the shipping costs to be reduced.
I am a fan of this travel product as it folds flat in to nothing and helps me sleep much easier than the other two products. When lying in bed, I hardly ever fall asleep on my back but find it much easier on my side or front.
This product provides a structured (when unfolded) that you place on the stow away table and rest on it directly or one can place a pillow or jumper at the top for a softer landing. This was the only product that helped me sleep relatively comfortably on the plane and while I am adamant that the comfort or support one can get from these products is subjective and individual, this product felt like a real step forward from the traditional travel pillows I have tried.
Overall I would have to say that my favourite was the Travel Rest. It is surprisingly supportive, for being something that packs so flat, and is useful for any seat on the plane!
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