A Travel Writer Settles the Travel Pillow Debate with a Photo Essay
Other than tips on hotels, the most common requests I get asked can be more accurately described as traveling tips than travel tips. Key among those requests are tips on travel comfort. For me, there is no more significant factor in travel comfort than your humble travel pillow. But which one? I've decided to answer this question via the process of elimination.
If you remember nothing else, just remember my Four C's of Travel Pillows:
Cleanliness, Compactness, Convenience, and Comfort
Before I start, let me make an important point. I am not a germophobe. Nonetheless, my top 3 concerns all deal with personal hygiene. For starters, you never want to get sick, but you especially don't want to get sick while traveling, be it for business or pleasure. Second, it's just gross. It is shocking how many travel pillows do not take simple hygiene into consideration. There are certain aspects of traveling that simply cannot be avoided, like crowds. However, there are some common sense precautions you can take. Not surprisingly, choices regarding something as intimate as your travel pillow is chief among them.
With that said, here we go!
1. Inflatable or not inflatable? Like I said, I am not a germophobe, but you have to be crazy to place your mouth on anything that has been on an airplane, that is not disposable. There are more reasons, but do I really have to elaborate? Do not buy an inflatable. There. I've just eliminated roughly 50% of your choices.
TOTAL CHOICES ELIMINATED: 50%
2. Washable cover. Same reason. Is there any other garment you would consider wearing that cannot be washed? No. There's another 25% gone
TOTAL CHOICES ELIMINATED: 75%
3. Carrying case. This is the last of the common sense hygiene choices, but the most frequently overlooked. Remember, you are traveling; planes, trains, terminals, lounges, taxis, and hotels. Admit it, you probably throw it in your luggage with your dirty clothes. You want a carrying case. There's another 20% you can cross off.
TOTAL CHOICES ELIMINATED: 95%
4. Compact and convenient. When you are traveling, space is limited both in your luggage and in your surroundings. If you have to make room for your travel pillow, the more likely you are to forgo this essential travel companion. Hand in hand with being compact, your travel pillow must be convenient. This is not quite the same thing as compact, but related. What good is your travel pillow if it is stuffed inside your luggage above you? Compact and convenience also means dealing with your travel pillow when you are not wearing it. There goes another 4.9% of your choices.
CHOICES ELIMINATED: 99.9%
5. Comfort. "Wait! You waited until #5 to mention comfort?" Yes. What good is a travel pillow that you don't take with you because it is a bulky, a burden, or smelly? With regards to comfort, there is nothing that compares to a travel pillow that offers full support. Personally, I find the U-shaped pillows more uncomfortable than wearing nothing. Good thing they've already been eliminated (see #1-4). Remember, Posture = Comfort.
6. Memory Foam? Memory Foam is a must. Developed by NASA, Memory Foam (vicso-elastic foam) reacts to the heat from your body to form to the contours of your head, neck, and shoulders. When combined with another type of firm foam for support, it can't be beat.
We've pretty much eliminated 99.99% of our choices. Without further ado, here is my recommendation and a recap.
The Embrace Sleep Collar Travel Pillow
Let's talk about the 4 C's: Cleanliness, Compactness, Convenience, and Comfort.
#1. Cleanliness and convenience: It comes in a carrying case that attaches to your carry-on luggage. Trust me. This is a feature you will come to love. Yes, the cover is washable.
It is no secret that this is the travel pillow that I travel with. Here is a photo that I took to show how I stow the Sleep Collar when I'm not wearing it. Note that it is out of the way and in a carrying case to keep clean (I swear I'm not a germophobe!). Brilliant! (:
#2. Compact. How compact? This compact. It also weight around 2 ounces. Less than a baseball cap.
#3 Now let's get to comfort. The Embrace Sleep Collar is manufactured with a two-ply process combing Memory Foam on the inside, for comfort and High-Resiliency Foam on the outside, for support. The washable cover is made from a wicking fabric, like in high-end athletic sportswear, to wear cool. Remember Posture = Comfort.
With the price of some travel pillows, these days, I could also add Cheap to to my Four C's, but that doesn't do it justice. At around 25 bucks, the product is very reasonably priced and is extremely well-made to go with the innovative design. You can find them on their website ( sleepcollar.com ) or Amazon.
So there you have it. Thanks to everyone for all of your support, and as always...
Lisa, The Travel Doc