When you think of traveling, whether it is by plane, train, or automobile, comfort is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. On an airplane, you’re lucky if you have a window seat and the sidewall of the plane to lean on, and on a long road trip, the options aren’t much better. But the discomfort of travel can go beyond just a missed opportunity to catch up on sleep. Sitting upright for long periods of time or sleeping with your neck at an unnatural angle could have negative health effects, beginning with the poor posture one might adopt in those situations. Thankfully, there’s a product that’s here to help: travel pillows. And with new technology comes new options, new shapes and sizes and fillings that have changed how travel pillows provide support. There’s something for just about anyone.
So how do you find the best travel pillow for you? There are a few factors to consider. Hundreds of brands have created travel pillows with numerous different variables. Some brands create the pillows specifically with chiropractic ideals in mind, aiming to maintain the spine’s natural curve and support healthy neck and back muscles in the long run. Others create pillows with the goal of convenience, making it the most portable option for traveling while still giving your head something to rest on. So when deciding on a brand and a pillow, you’ll have to first consider what purpose you want it to serve.
Are You Experiencing Neck and Back Pain?
From parents to teachers to coaches, we’ve all had someone nag us about posture growing up. But it turns out, good posture is more than just looking professional or attentive. It’s actually a large factor in maintaining good health as you age. That’s why travel pillows are an important posture-correcting accessory. Throughout our lifetimes, we spend thousands of hours sitting in the seats of cars and planes. These seats do not encourage healthy posture, and poor posture can lead to numerous other physical discomforts. You may notice a single airplane ride can leave you with a stiff and sore neck once you deplane, but years of car rides and travel can make that stiffness and soreness more permanent. The poor posture leads to muscle weakness, which eventually leads to neck and back pain. Fortunately, several brands have teamed up with health professionals to create travel pillows that support healthy posture and help maintain overall good health. These come in all shapes and sizes, depending on your body and your preferences. If neck and back support is your goal, then selecting a brand that focuses on the posture-correcting factors of a neck pillow will likely lead you to the best travel pillow for your needs.
Are You Just Trying To Sleep Comfortably?
Some people are less focused on the health aspects of a pillow and more focused on simply getting some comfortable sleep in while traveling. And – you guessed it – there are numerous brands that have created a product that’s more about helping you do just that, no matter what your preferred sleeping position is. This makes finding the best travel pillow for comfortable sleep pretty easy. There are pillows made specifically for the doomed middle seat flight, pillows made for sleeping with your head on the tray table, and, of course, the standard U-shaped pillows for those who just don’t want their neck bent at an extreme angle While you rest your head on your own shoulders. And if you’re lucky enough to get a window seat, there’s brands that produce J-shaped neck pillows to enhance that sleeping experience, too. These brands may not make pillows that are specifically designed to maintain perfect posture, but they do make products that’ll help you get some rest in that plane, train, or car in a position that’s actually, well, comfortable.
Do You Have Limited Carry-On Space?
Not all of us are light packers, and not all of us like to carry a pillow around the airport (even though TSA doesn’t consider a neck pillow a carry-on piece, allowing you to bring one on board with your other bags) , so for some, the key to a good neck pillow is simply packability. Fortunately, new technology has made travel pillows easier than ever to squeeze into your already-stuffed carry on bag. One option is a memory-foam neck pillow, sold by most brands. Here, the key is to purchase one that can remain compact for a period of time without compromising the quality of the pillow itself. This means when you take it out of a tightly-packed bag, it will expand on its own back to its original size and shape, no harm done. Another option is the increasingly-popular inflatable travel pillow. These are undeniably the easiest to compact, as its size can be greatly reduced once deflated, and you can simply slide a fairly flat product into your carry on or suitcase when you’re done. Inflatable travel pillows often come in the form of a lumbar pillow, which are made to provide lower-back support and placed behind the back, but there are inflatable neck pillows that are highly-rated as well.
Overall, naming one specific best brand or best travel pillow is nearly impossible, as it’s highly contingent upon what you’re looking for. If you’re interested in a travel pillow for health purposes, a quick chat with a chiropractor or your doctor may help assess which style suits you best. And if you’re just looking for the most convenient option to carry, there’s no shortage in selection. But from sleep comfort to posture-correction, there’s a best travel pillow out there for everyone’s needs.