Is Your Travel Pillow Worth Packing?

As a seasoned traveler, I have experienced the good and the bad of travel pillows. There are many brands and configurations on the market so I figured it might be a good time to consider the great airline pillow debate.

If the flight is under four hours I don’t bother taking a travel pillow at all. For flights over four hours in duration, or if traveling on an international flight, single or multiple flight legs, then the first consideration is – Should I take my travel pillow with me, or use the one on board? Many airlines provide a pillow at each seat for passengers to use. They are similar in size to a pillow for a baby cot – or baby pillow.

Personally, I find the performance of the standard airline pillow to be lacking. They tend to either provide one of two things; A) They are too bulky (or) B: They flatten out as soon as my head comes into direct contact with the pillow. Airline pillows rarely provide the comfort we seek on a long-haul flight. So for me its a case of B.Y.O. – Bring Your Own.


The most common form of travel pillow is a foam or bead filled neck pillow. They are “U” shaped and come with a hook or loop to secure to hand luggage or a backpack. Inflatable pillows, using the same 'U' configuration seem like a good idea but rarely perform well even over a short period of time. The advantage is they can filled with air prior to use, then deflated afterwards - a great space saving idea. However, if you have ever used one they have a tendency deflate easily, and often offering no real level of comfort or convenience.

The best neck pillow filling I have found to date is the polystyrene micro bead. The beads adjust well to the contouring of the neck, can be bunched up to form a decent head pillow and provide good support overall, without flattening out over time.

For the best neck and head pillow combination around, I can’t go past the American Tourister brand dual pillow. Filled with small micro-beads this pillow wins hands down for its practical design, comfort and ability to adapt its use.

Firstly, the outside of the pillow – the slip itself has two types of coverings. On one side, there is a faux fur covering, nice and cosy to keep warm when the temperature drops in the cabin. The other side of the cover is a cool touch breathable fabric which assists to cool down the face and head when the cabin is too hot while waiting for the air conditioning to filter through the cabin.

Next, is the filling – the micro beads are lightweight making the pillow easy to travel with. The pillow is quite small in size – not dissimilar to a baby cot pillow, however don’t be deceived by its size.

A concealed zipper is sewn into the side seam of the pillow. When unzipped, a second option is available. The pillow is dual purpose and can be converted from a standard pillow configuration, to a neck pillow 'U' configuration. By simply pulling out the concealed neck pillow and manipulating the micro-beads into the neck pillow section – voila! A neck pillow is literally born. If offers the same comfort as the standard pillow, utilizing the same covering. Brilliant!


Finally, affixed next to the internal side of the pillow, is a clip styled hook which is sturdy. Clip it straight onto your bag or pack for use next time. The pillow also comes with a loop sewn into the external seam of the pillow if you prefer.

Having also experienced pillows filled with bamboo memory foam, standard memory foam, fiber filled, bean filled, cotton filled, I highly recommend the American Tourister dual pillow over its competitors.

It’s so good, I even use it on my bed at home. It beats my standard pillows hands down.

Pack light – pack right!

Sandra Hawkins

Subscribe to

Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox.

or subscribe via RSS with Feedly!