Summer may be over but there’s never a bad time to experience long-haul travel and bumpy bus rides, especially with a new travel pillow by your side (or should that be around your neck?).
Traditional travel pillows – the kind of c-shaped wraparound pillows you can pick up at the airport – are still your best option for the dreaded middle seat. But innovations from the world of lightweight camping mean there are more packable pillows for every sleeping – and travelling – position.
Nothing beats a full-size pillow, and thanks to lightweight camping tech you can get fairly close now with an inflatable version. Some people will hate the inevitable “crinkle” that comes with a blow-up pillow, though: elegant memory foam pillows from leading brands like Simba and Outwell mean you can get close to bed-like comfort on the road.
Finally, don’t forget a travel pillow if you’re heading to a campsite or overlanding. The smallest, lightest pillow we found fitted in our trouser pocket, inflated to the size of a regular pillow, and had a cosy layer of down that made it perfect for a chilly night in the wilderness – or a layover on a cold airport terminal floor.
Our tester is a travel journalist, and has tried every pillow on the market in the quest for a comfortable night’s sleep in long-haul economy.
How we tested
We tested some of these pillows on the longest flight in the world, on the cold floors of the busiest airport in the world, and on bus rides across continents. More recently we’ve taken them with us on long car rides to campsites, and slept on them under the stars.
What you look for in a travel pillow depends on where and how you’re travelling, but across the board we looked for excellent support, softness and portability.
These are the best travel pillows for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Sea to Summit aeros premium traveller pillow: £31.99, Nevisport.com
- Best for travelling light – Vango deep sleep ergo pillow: £19, Vango.co.uk
- Best for bus rides – Outwell memory pillow: £32.99, Outwell.com
- Best for something different – Trtl pillow plus: £59.99, Trtltravel.com
- Best for sleeping anywhere – Infinity travel pillow: £39.99, Infinitypillow.co
- Best for cold conditions – Sea to Summit aeros down pillow: £52.49, Trekkinn.com
- Best for the middle seat – Travelrest memory foam pillow: £34.90, Travelrest.net
- Best for nodding off – BCOZZY supporting travel pillow: £39.97, Amazon.co.uk