The last thing you want when traveling is an uncomfortable child. Sure, you already know to have snacks, books, electronic gadgets and toys to keep your kids fed and occupied. But did you pack a travel pillow for them? Being forced to keep their head in a position for too long, or falling asleep in cramped conditions, can lead to cranky and exhausted kids (and cranky parents). Whether you’re traveling by car, bus, train or plane, these are the best travel pillows for kids.
1. Trunki Yondi Kid’s Travel Neck Pillow
Younger kids, in particular, need support when riding in a vehicle on long journeys. The Trunki Yondi Kid’s Travel Neck Pillow is recommended for children who are approximately 18 months to 5 years old. There’s a variety of animal characters from which to choose: a cat, alligator, monkey, fox and lion. Hidden magnets inside the animal’s paws come together under the child’s chin. They form a 360-degree cushion, providing full head and neck protection, regardless of how your little one lays. The plush fabric and microbead filling make it even better. This travel pillow for kids has a removable and machine washable velvet cover. It works for any mode of transportation. You can even use it with your child’s car seat, booster seat or stroller.
2. Trtl Pillow Junior
The Trtl Pillow has been one of the bestselling travel pillows for adults for years. Now, the kid-sized version, the Trtl Pillow Junior is just as popular, for good reason. The manufacturers worked with elementary and middle school students to design the pillow. So it’s comfortable and sized just right for children ages 8 and up. Worn like a scarf, the Trtl Pillow Junior has hidden, flexible rib supports within foam cushioning. This ensures your child’s head and neck are positioned correctly while she’s sleeping, watching TV, playing video games or relaxing. Kids can wear the pillow to the front or either side. Also, this travel pillow is easy for kids to put on and take off and it weighs less than a pound (and packs flat for lightweight travel in a carry-on bag). Another benefit is that its hypoallergenic fleece material is super-soft and cozy for little travelers.
3. Critter Piller Kid’s Travel Buddy and Comfort Pillow
Your young child will probably go wild for this one. The Critter Piller Kid’s Travel Buddy and Comfort Pillow comes in many different animal designs, including a dog, cat, alligator, panda and more. It does double duty: protects your child’s neck and acts as a comfort pal. This is one of the best travel pillows for kids who get anxious on airplanes or long trips. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the Critter Piller has a microfiber filling and looks and feels like a soft toy. So, your child can use it while sleeping or cuddle up with it at other times. And since kids are likely to spill food, drinks, or something else (think saliva, snot or worse), the whole pillow is machine washable.
4. BCOZZY Kids Chin Supporting Travel Pillow
You know how your kid’s head sometimes snaps forward when he dozes off? The BCOZZY Kids Chin Supporting Travel Pillow can put a stop to that. Rather than a U-shape, it has overlapping arms that prevent a child’s head from dropping forward or sideways. Even with so much support, the pillow isn’t overbearing. While wearing it, kids can still use over-the-air headphones comfortably. The BCOZZY Kids Travel Pillow is available in a wide variety of colors and recommended for kids ages 3 to 8. It’s also fully machine washable and has a snap strap to attach the pillow to luggage.
Related: Best Headphones for Kids
5. Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow
The Dot&Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow is probably the best travel pillow for kids who sleep wildly. If your child goes from having her head to the left one minute, then to the right, before finally slumping against the armrest or window of the car or plane, this is a good pick. The versatile pillow can twist to whatever position is comfortable for your sleeping beauty. Doesn’t matter if that’s the traditional U-shape, straightened a little or a lot, or curved like a snake. The Twist has a snap closure that keeps the pillow from falling off. It also attaches to carry-on luggage or a backpack. The cover of the pillow can be removed and machine washed. Since this pillow is long and can contort into different positions, it’s probably better for older kids who are at least age 8.
6. AirComfy Daydreamer Push-Button Inflatable Pillow
If you’re trying to stay away from any pillow that requires you or your child to huff and puff to blow it up, try the AirComfy Daydreamer Push-Button Inflatable Pillow. It’s designed so you don’t have to use your mouth to fill it with air. Simply open the air valve cover, press the “push button” repeatedly until the pillow inflates, and then close the air valve. It only takes 30 to 60 seconds for the pillow to be ready. The Daydreamer has contoured and adjustable neck support. Whether your child prefers soft, firm or somewhere in between, this pillow can accommodate his or her wishes. You can even adjust the inflation while you’re wearing it. Once the ride is over, the pillow deflates quickly and fits in a small, included carrying case. It has a carabiner clip to attach it to a carry-on bag. Even cleaning the pillow is easy. It’s inside a velvet pillowcase, so all you have to do is remove the cover and toss it in the wash.
7. Nido Nest Kids Travel Neck Car Pillow
Memory foam or air can sometimes be too firm for a child’s neck. The Nido Nest Kids Travel Neck Car Pillow is a more flexible option. It has a microbead filling, so it’s soft and conforms to the neck. The exterior fabric is breathable and won’t cause your child to get hot and sweaty. A snap closure helps keep it in place during slumber and also allows for attaching it to a suitcase, bag or purse. Although “car pillow” is in its name, the Nido Nest Pillow is great for all modes of travel. It’s for kids ages 3 to 10 and comes in a variety of animal designs, including a bumblebee, ladybug, frog, owl and pig. The cover is removable and washable.
Have a teen who won’t go anywhere without his hoodie? The HoodiePillow is the best travel pillow for kids and teens who want the best of both worlds. It has a memory foam pillow to support the neck and a hood made of the same material as their favorite hoodie. The hooded part of the pillow has two drawstrings so your child can adjust the hood to his head size and comfort level. It’s perfect for tweens and teens who want privacy. For families looking to pack light, there’s an Inflatable Travel HoodiePillow. It deflates easily and folds flat, taking up very little space in your kid’s bag. Both the memory foam and inflatable versions come in a variety of colors. That means your teen can get one to match his real hoodie!
Related: Best Teen-Approved Carry-On Bags
9. Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow
If your kid isn’t too keen on having anything around her neck, the Travelrest Ultimate Travel Pillow may be a good choice. It inflates with only a few puffs and then loops over the headrest of a car or the “wings” of an airplane seat. It can even be worn like a messenger bag. Positioned either across the torso or down the side, the pillow will keep your child’s head from falling forward. When no longer needed, it deflates almost instantly and can be rolled up so that it doesn’t take up much space. This travel pillow is for kids ages 8 and older (and adults). The only possible downside is it’s hand-wash only.
10. Wandering Tot Inflatable Foot Rest
Sometimes it’s the kid’s legs that need a little support. Long rides can cause legs to feel cramped or fall asleep. The Wandering Tot Inflatable Foot Rest allows youngsters to stretch out their legs a bit. It weighs only one pound and inflates in 90 seconds, so it’s not too much of a hassle to set up. Once inflated, place it on the floor of the car or between your child’s airplane seat and the one in front of him. The foot rest is adjustable to meet your child’s height needs. Just blow it up a little less or a little more. Then, your kiddo can kick up his feet and relax. Once done, take down is also easy. The foot rest deflates in 15 seconds and fits into the included small storage bag. As a bonus, the Wandering Tot comes with an eye mask and earplugs to help make your child as comfy as possible. Some airlines don’t allow leg pillows on the plane, so check beforehand.
Tamekia Reece lives in Houston, TX with her husband, son and two spoiled Shih Tzus. She has written for Parents, Woman’s Day, GoodHousekeeping.com, Oprahmag.com, American Airlines, and more. Find Tamekia on her website, TamekiaReece.net.