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Travel Pillow Buying Guide: 7 Things To Consider

As much as traveling can be a fun and exciting activity to undertake, there is no doubt that it can also be uncomfortable and exhausting. Whether you’re traveling short or long distances, this activity requires you to walk around, switch from one transportation to the next, and endure long hours of being seated in the same position, all while carrying your travel bag. Thus, most travelers would love to take every opportunity to get some sleep while riding on a bus, car, plane, or waiting in the boarding area to alleviate the discomfort and tiredness from the travel.

However, because sleeping while on the go won’t be as comfortable as sleeping in bed, you’ll need to find another alternative to boost your comfort while traveling. Besides wearing loose clothing and comfy shoes, another way to achieve a comfortable travel experience is investing in a travel pillow.

The Essence Of Using A Travel Pillow

A travel pillow is a travel accessory used to help you get better and comfier sleep during long and tiring travel periods. This pillow can come in handy, especially if you’re about to spend the next long hours sitting on a train, plane, bus, or any transportation with small and uncomfortable spaces, limiting your movement. While you’re seated, this pillow can support your shoulders, neck, and spine to avoid neck or back pains during your travels.

Additionally, travel pillows are designed in multiple ways to meet the needs of every traveler. They may differ in weights, sizes, shapes, and fillings. With so many types of travel pillows available on the market, you need to find the best one that suits your specific needs. Otherwise, buying the wrong travel pillow might only leave you with a strained or painful neck when you wake up.

Types Of Travel Pillows

Before choosing your travel pillow, it’s a good idea to know the types you can choose from. While they may all serve one purpose, which is to provide comfort and support when sleeping during your travels, they may differ in shape, size, and firmness.

  • Buckwheat Travel Pillows

This type is available in various shapes like U-shape, neck roll, and rectangular. Buckwheat travel pillows are adjustable, and you can customize them depending on your preferred softness or firmness. You only have to add or remove the buckwheat hulls until it’s comfortable for you.

Buckwheat travel pillows promote better air circulation and can keep your neck and head cool while you’re sleeping. Thus, they’re the best travel pillows for travelers visiting hot and tropical locations. You can check out a video below for more information about buckwheat travel pillows.

Moreover, this pillow can easily conform to the shape or form of your neck or back to provide full support during your sleep. Comfort aside, buckwheat travel pillows can also be easily cleaned like inflatables. You only have to remove the buckwheat hulls and dry them out in the sun while washing the cover to keep it fresh and clean.

  • Inflatable Travel Pillows

This type of pillow is often designed in a U-shape intended to provide full support on your neck. Because it’s air-filled, you can inflate it according to your preferred firmness and deflate it whenever you need to fold and pack it inside your luggage. Often, inflatables are made from a stretchable polyester material with a cotton cover.

This is ideal for travelers looking to downsize their travel bags and would like to pack a light and portable travel pillow. Inflatable travel pillows are also available in different designs. For instance, some may include a hood you can use over your head to cover up the light, and some are designed to be attached to your seat. The inflatable type is also the cheapest and most cost-effective travel pillow, perfect for low-budget travelers.

  • Microbead Travel Pillows

Like the inflatable ones, a microbead travel pillow is also U-shaped, yet it’s considered the bulkiest among all the types. From the name itself, this is made from small polystyrene beads designed to provide comfort and neck support. Like buckwheat, you also get to add or remove some beadsuntil you have the softness suitable for your neck support. However, these beads could easily pop up and scatter everywhere whenever the fabric is stretched out.

Likewise, a microbead travel pillow may not be ideal for light packers due to its bulky nature. It may be a lightweight pillow, but you’re unable to compress or deflate it, so it’s the least portable option.

  • Memory Foam Travel Pillows

This type is often considered the comfiest, firmest, and most supportive travel pillow. Compared to microbeads and inflatables, a memory foam travel pillow is made from denser materials, making it more durable and consistent in providing neck and head support. Similar to buckwheat, it can also easily conform and mold to the shape or position of your neck, making it a perfect travel accessory during long-haul flights.It’s also the most recommended type for frequent travelers.

As most memory foam travel pillows don’t have removable covers, it may be ideal to go for one that’s machine-washable so you can easily clean it and keep it fresh. Lastly, this type of pillow may be the most expensive, but its qualities are certainly worth the investment.

  • Contour Travel Pillows

Also known as a therapeutic pillow, this type is usually rectangular shaped and filled with memory foam. Besides providing neck and head support, thisis perfect for travelers expecting long layovers during their flights. You can place this on your shoulders or upper back and sleep in a vertical position while waiting for your next flight.

  • Travel Pillows For Children

Like adults, children also need travel pillows, especially as they’re the ones who sleep more frequently during travels. You can find any type of travel pillows mentioned in smaller sizes to ensure it fits your child’s neck and head. They’re also available in different designs, colors, and shapes, suitable for kids’ tastes. Most importantly, most travel pillows for kids feature chin support to keep your child’s head and neck steady while they’re in a deep slumber.

Points To Consider When Choosing A Travel Pillow

Now that you know the types and the essence of finding the right travel pillow for you, here are seven points to consider when choosing a travel pillow:

1. Neck And Head Support

Check yourself on how you usually sleep during your travels. Does your neck tend to lean backward or forward when you doze off? Or perhaps, you often move your head around while sleeping on the plane or car seat. Knowing how you position your neck and head while sleeping is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a travel pillow. This way, you can invest in a type of pillow that can provide ample neck support during your travels.

For instance, if you constantly lean your head forward while sleeping, a neck brace pillow may be best for you. Meanwhile, memory foam or an inflatable pillow may be ideal for you if you tend to lean backward when sleeping. Ultimately, your neck position should help you choose the type of travel pillow that best offers neck support.

2. Sleeping Position

Each traveler has his own sleeping position. Thus, besides taking into account your neck position while sleeping, consider your overall sleeping position, too. There may be instances where you’d prefer sleeping on your side or your back on a reclined plane seat during long flights, and a U-shaped travel pillow may not suffice to provide body support.

In that case, investing in a wrap-around pillow or a neck roll pillow may be more suitable than the usual U-shaped pillow. This will keep your spine aligned and straight and provide support in your head and neck to keep it from tilting downwards.

Meanwhile, for people who’d love to mimic a stomach sleeping position during their travels, a cylindrical or block pillow can offer body support.You may position this in your lap before leaning over it with your face beyond or on top of the pillow.

3. Fabric

Most of the time, many travelers often overlook fabric when buying a travel pillow. They’ll only notice they purchased the wrong one when they find out that the pillow was scratchy or irritating to use and sleep into. Thus, when you go shopping for travel pillows, take your time to feel the fabric in your skin and see if it’s comfortable.

Likewise, the climate can also contribute to the feeling of your pillow’s fabric. If you often travel to countries with a hot climate, a polyester or cotton fabric may be best for you for optimal comfort. Meanwhile, travel pillows made of fleece or suede may suffice if you’re traveling to cold and wintery areas. In addition, ensure you choose a pillow with a removable cover or machine-washable fabric so it will be easier to keep them clean and fresh before you travel.

4. Portability And Size

As mentioned, travel pillows can differ in weight and size, so make sure you pick one that fits the kind of traveler you are. If you’ve always been a light traveler, you may want to go for a travel pillow that’s small and lightweight, like an inflatable and memory foam pillow, as you can easily size them down. If you don’t mind going for a bulky and a bit heavy type of pillow, a microbead pillow can be a good option. Note, however, that most travel pillows are made from memory foam as they’re light, require less space, and are easily compressible.

5. Durability

For frequent travelers, you’ll need a travel pillow that can withstand and endure anything. The last thing you want is to constantly buy a new one each time you travel. A durable, long-lasting, and high-quality pillow may cost you more than the others, so consider this a better investment. It would also help to read reviews from different online travel pillow stores to see if their products are durable and favorable in quality.

6. Cost

In reality, many travelers would instead choose their travel pillow based on the price rather than on the quality or the other factors mentioned here. Yet not all affordable travel pillows are comfortable, and not all expensive travel pillows may conform to your specific needs. Thus, set a budget aside and consider how much you’re willing to invest for the comfort of your travels. A little investment may be more worth it in the long run.

7. Comfort

You’ll buy a travel pillow in the first place to boost your comfort while traveling. Thus, comfortability should be among your top priorities when choosing your travel pillow. Keep in mind, though, that comfortability may not be the same for everyone. Just because your travel partner is comfortable with his U-shaped memory foam travel pillow doesn’t mean you might feel the same. So, go for a travel pillow that can provide maximum comfort during your travels in terms of fabric, sleeping position, size, and weight.

Testing Your Travel Pillow

If you’ve never invested in a travel pillow before, chances are you’re not exactly sure which type is best for you. One way to help you find the best one is by testing them out. Some pillow stores would allow their customers to have a quick test on the pillow. If you’re shopping for travel pillows online, perhaps you can read customer reviews first.You may also check their return policy so you can experiment with the pillow when it arrives and have it returned or exchanged when it doesn’t suit you.

When testing your travel pillow, simulate the car, bus, train, or airline experience. You can try using it in your car or chair at home and test its comfortability and ability to provide neck and head support. You can even try sleeping on it and taking it to bed to fully experience its overall comfortability. Remember, buying the wrong travel pillow might only result in more neck and back pains when you wake up, so make sure you take time to test and pick the right one.

Suppose you’ve tested the pillow’s quality and comfortability with positive results. Next, you’ll need to try and test its portability by inflating or deflating it until it fits your travel bag. If you’re buying bulky travel pillows that are not adjustable, see if you can make more room for them in your luggage. Lastly, check the pillow’s cleaning instructions to see if they’re washable or not.

Wrapping Up

Overall, a travel pillow can be your best travel companion, whether you’re traveling on a bus, car, plane, or if you’re going camping or backpacking. Yet a travel pillow can only work effectively and provide full support during your sleep when you invest in the right one. Thus, consider the pointers mentioned here when buying your pillow, and remember that comfort should be your main priority.

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