Even on the shortest of flights, those little nooks between your head and the airplane wall can get pretty uncomfortable. You’re pretty much locked into one position for the next few hours — there’s no way you can stretch out or even fully recline. And it’s not just your body that feels it; after an hour or two, you might start feeling a bit claustrophobic as well. With a travel pillow, however, you can reclaim a little bit of that comfort you usually take for granted when flying. You don’t have to spend the next few hours with your head propped awkwardly against the window. Travel pillows are super compact and lightweight, so they won’t be bulky or restrictive in your suitcase either!
What is a Travel Pillow?
Travel pillows are specially designed for airplanes and other forms of travel. They’re not just your standard pillow; they’re meant to be used in a different way, so the shape and materials will be different from a normal pillow. They may be u-shaped, c-shaped, or even just a strap to wrap around your head. Or there might be a combination of all of these! These travel pillows are meant to be compact and lightweight, so you can easily stick them in your suitcase as you’re getting ready for your trip. You don’t want to be lugging around a big, bulky pillow in your carry-on, so it’s best to stick with the travel variety.
Where to Find the Best Travel Pillows
- Online - If you’re looking for a quick purchase, shopping online is the way to go. You can find just about any travel pillow you want, from popular brands at all sorts of price points. Just be sure to read some of the reviews, so you know what to expect. - Offline - While online might be the best place to find the pillow you want, you can also try your local stores. You might find a few options you weren’t expecting, or you might even find a super-rare pillow that you just have to have! - Friends - If you know someone who’s flown recently, you can always ask them what they used. Someone might have a used or even brand-new travel pillow they’re willing to part with. And if they don’t have one they can lend you, they can let you know what type they used, so you can shop for one yourself.
How to Pick a Travel Pillow
- Materials - Look at the materials used to make the pillow. You want something that’s soft and comfortable against your skin, but also easy to clean — you don’t want to be dealing with a bunch of lint or a pillow that’s impossible to clean. - Shape and Size - Is the pillow an u-shaped pillow, a c-shaped pillow, or something else? Does it fit around your head or is it more of a neck pillow? You want to make sure you get the right shape and size for you so it’s comfortable, but also that it will easily fit in your bag or between your legs. - Ease of Use - Does the pillow have a strap you can easily secure to your head? Does it collapse to make it easy to fold up and store? Does it have a strap or case you can easily tuck it into so it doesn’t slip away? These are all helpful features that will make your travel experience easier.
Which Type of Travel Pillow is Right for You?
- U-Shaped Pillows - U-shaped pillows wrap around your neck and head, giving you a little support in all the right places. They’re great for people who like to sleep on their backs, but also for side sleepers and stomach sleepers. - C-Shaped Pillows - C-shaped pillows wrap around your neck, resting your head on a soft, squishy part and a more supportive part. They’re more suited to back sleepers, but they can also be used by side sleepers and stomach sleepers. - Neck Pillows - Neck pillows are just what they sound like: they’re designed to support your neck and help you sleep. They’re a good choice if you have really bad neck pain or if you’re pregnant, but they’re not as versatile as the other two types of travel pillows.
How to Use Your Travel Pillow
- Pop open the pillow and look for the strap or way to secure it to your head. If it has, put the pillow on your lap and wrap the strap around your head. If it doesn’t, try squishing it up and putting it between your legs. - Once it’s secured, lean your head against the pillow. Be sure to position it correctly so you’re not putting too much strain on your neck. - You can also use your travel pillow as a lumbar support by wrapping it around your lower back.
Other Tips to Help You Fly Comfortably
- Use a humidifier - If you’re typically prone to dry, irritated eyes, you might want to bring a humidifier on your flight. This will help keep your eyes feeling comfortable and healthy during your trip. - Wear compression socks - If you have swollen ankles or just want to prevent swelling on long flights, wear compression socks. These will help keep your blood moving, which will help you stay healthy even on a long flight. - Bring eye drops - If you get dry eyes easily, you’ll want to make sure you have eye drops wherever you go. The dry air on airplanes can cause you to feel like you have sand in your eyes, which is pretty uncomfortable and annoying. - Drink water - Hydration is key when flying, especially when in a pressurized environment. Staying hydrated will help you feel better and keep those headaches away.
Want to Avoid the Dreaded Dreaded Dreaded Middle Seat?
If you want to avoid the dreaded dreaded dreaded middle seat, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the seat you want. First, check when booking your flight to see what seats are available. Avoid booking a red-eye flight, as this will make you more likely to get the dreaded middle seat. Finally, check out your airport and airline options for early check-in. Many airports offer special check-in lines for frequent fliers or super-early risers, and some airlines also offer early check-in options. You can also get a seat assignment as soon as you book your flight. You can do this either by booking directly with the airline or by booking through a travel agent. If you don’t want to be at the mercy of the seat reassignment, you can also pay a fee to guarantee a specific seat. With these tips and tricks, you can enjoy your flight without having to worry about getting the dreaded middle seat. After all, flying is the fastest way to get across the country or across the planet, so it’s important to make the most of it!