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WiseGeek’s “Wisest Buys” Awards: Top 3 Travel Pillows of 2021

L. S. Wynn
By L. S. Wynn
Published Jan 22, 2021

When it comes to comparing options for making an important purchase, the sheer amount of choice can be overwhelming. With hundreds of conflicting Amazon reviews for every product and review websites that offer competing advice about which products actually work, it can feel like an uphill battle to find reliable information on which to base your purchase decision.

Here at WiseGeek, we’d like to make this process a little easier by presenting our annual Wisest Buys Awards. Each year, we select our favorite products in a number of popular categories.

Our team of reviewers has tested the most popular travel pillows, coming to our own conclusions about which product is the absolute best.

To decide on our award winner in the travel pillows category, we considered the following criteria:

  • Provides significant head and neck support
  • Made with soft, comfortable materials
  • Breathable; won’t cause excess perspiration
  • Keeps it shape through frequent use
  • Easy to pack away and store while traveling

2021 Wisest Buy Award Winner: Best Travel Pillow

#1 Alpaca Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Alpaca Memory Foam Travel Pillow

★★★★★

Top features:

  • Packs down to a small size in provided travel bag
  • All-around head and neck support
  • Stays cool and breathable

The Alpaca Memory Foam Travel Pillow was a big hit among the members of our review team. We are all frequent travelers, and finding a travel pillow that is actually comfortable was a major win for us. The Alpaca pillow was by far the best travel pillow we tried, and it’s one of the products we were most excited about.

This U-shaped memory foam pillow provides excellent head and neck support, regardless of whether you prefer to lean your head back or rest it to the side. The memory foam gently conforms to your head and neck, so that you can rest in any position. There’s even a cleverly-designed front toggle so that your chin will be supported in case your head falls forward. Unlike some of the other pillows we tried, it doesn’t feel too hard or constricting, and it’s not so large that it seems to take up the entire seat or press against your ears. This makes the Alpaca pillow equally well suited for use in window, aisle, and middle seats.

While the outside of the pillow is covered in an attractive grey velvet, the inner curve of the Alpaca pillow is lined with a very breathable fabric, as this is the portion that will be resting against your neck. The pillow stays remarkably cool, even during long flights, which is a huge improvement over other pillows that can become unpleasantly sweaty.

When not in use, the Alpaca pillow can be compressed into a surprisingly small size and stored in a convenient travel bag in your carry-on. Because it’s made of memory foam, the Alpaca pillow is very light, making it an ideal travel accessory.

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Other Travel Pillows We Like:

#2 Trtl Travel Pillow

Trtl Travel Pillow

★★★★

Top features:

  • Machine washable
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Very lightweight

We were initially skeptical about the Trtl Travel Pillow, as the design is completely different from the typical travel pillow shape. Unlike more traditional U-shaped pillows, the Trtl pillow consists of a cushioned inner support that cradles the side of your neck and head, and fleecy fabric that wraps around your neck and chin. From the photos, it doesn’t look all that comfortable, but the Trtl pillow is surprisingly easy to rest your head on, and the cosy fleece material keeps your neck pleasantly warm. The pillow can also be adjusted to sit closer to your chin, in order to prevent your head from falling forward. The only drawback is that the Trtl pillow is designed for reclining your head just slightly to one side, rather than leaning it back against the headrest, which is how some people prefer to sleep.

Because of its unique design, the Trtl pillow is very lightweight and takes up minimal space, so it can be stored in a backpack or large handbag. It’s sold in both adult and child sizes and is available in a number of different colors. The Trtl pillow is machine washable -- a definite advantage over travel pillows that can’t be properly cleaned.

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#3 Huzi Infinity Pillow

Huzi Infinity Pillow

★★★★

Top features:

  • Can be adjusted into many different configurations
  • Breathable bamboo fabric
  • Entire pillow is machine washable

Like the Trtl pillow, the Huzi Infinity Pillow features a very different design than your usual travel pillow. In fact, it resembles a thick scarf more than anything. Although the Huzi pillow doesn’t provide the same firm support that many other travel pillows do, this may be a plus for travelers who prefer a softer, less restrictive type of pillow. The other advantage of the Huzi pillow is that it can be twisted into all sorts of different shapes, depending on whether you want to prop up your neck and chin, lean your head against a window, or gently support your back. It even does a pretty good job of canceling out noise if you pull it up around your ears!

The Huzi pillow is made from a cool and comfortable bamboo fabric, and the entire pillow is machine washable, which is great for frequent travelers. It’s actually fairly large, so it won’t fit in a backpack or purse all that easily, but the innovative design means you can wrap it around your carry-on, or simply wear it like a scarf as you walk through the airport or train station.

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