What Is It: An oblong inflatable travel pillow designed to help you achieve some peace in a cramped coach seat.
Price and Where to Buy: I bought mine on Amazon for $26.95; the product is eligible for free Super Saver Shipping. You can also order it directly from on the Travelrest website for the same price, but you'll have to pay extra for shipping.
Pros: I have the ability to sleep on planes. I'm often in dreamland accepting a Pulitzer before the plane's wheels have folded back into the undercarriage. But I consistently wake up 40 minutes or an hour later—depending on how badly my body is contorted in my seat—with a throbbing neck and my face on someone's iPad.
For a while I was making like Linus and bringing a full-size bed pillow onto planes; this worked like a dream, but was slightly embarrassing. My pillow-toting tendency was not something I would necessarily reveal, say, in a blog post on the Internet. (Whoops.) My Linus phase had to end.
So I grew up and ordered the Travelrest, which appears to be the best selling travel pillow on Amazon. Faceless masses, you did not let me down. On an 11:55 p.m. red-eye from New York's JFK to Guayaquil, Ecuador, I fell asleep on the pillow a few moments after take-off and woke up six hours later as the plane circled for landing. It was the travel equivalent of hitting for the cycle.
As a side sleeper, the Travelrest pillow suited me perfectly. I angled my body toward the far left corner of my little seat, rested my right cheek on the pillow, and then zonked out. The pillow inflated easily with just a few puffs of breath. And I was able to deflate it a bit by pushing a button to let air out slowly, thus achieving the perfect sleep-inducing balance between firm and squishy.
The product comes with a pamphlet detailing a variety of ways to attach the pillow to yourself, like one of those sarongs that transforms into a million kinds of dresses. One can sling it over a shoulder with the attached rope, hook it to a seat belt, etc. The attachment functionality gives the pillow some sturdiness so that one can really lean on it. One can also drape the rope over the back of an airline seat, but I quickly learned that this obstructs the monitor on the back of your seat. Not a good way to make friends with the guy behind you.
Cons: On my flight back to the U.S. from Ecuador, I caught a few people eyeing me curiously while I inflated my pillow. If I saw someone blowing up a giant telephone with a rope dangling from it, I would stare too. Other than a possible awkward moment or two, my cons list is coming up empty.
How it Rates:
- Usefulness: 9/10 – A pillow that rectifies the torment of economy class is particularly useful in this time of for-free semi-premium economy and shrinking airline seats.
- Portability: 10/10 – The product deflates quickly (just push a button and the air wooshes out) and rolls into a little croissant that packs easily. One can also hook the pillow to a suitcase handle.
- Value: 10/10 – I paid $25.95 for what amounts to an everlasting seat upgrade. If the pillow works for you, it's a steal.
- Durability: 8/10 – The material feels pretty much similar to that of any old inflatable travel pillow. If you'd like something more substantial propping up your head, you can buy a supplementary micro-fleece pillow cover.
- Cool Factor: 2/10 – Comfort is rarely cool, as is evidenced by Snuggies and Crocs. However, I would rather sleep through a flight than look like cool any day of the week. Who's with me?
Final Verdict: It probably won't work for all travelers, as different people have different sleeping styles. But at less than 30 bucks, it's worth a try.
Editor's Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and "cool factor." Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.