How Does a Travel Pillow Work?


A travel pillow is a small, portable pillow that reduces the strain on the neck and back muscles. It also allows for restful sleep while in a sitting position. Most popular is the U- or crescent-shaped pillow, which slides behind the head.

A travel pillow may be filled with beans, barley, soft foam, feathers or air. The inflatable pillow is the smallest to carry, but may not be the most comfortable. A standard travel pillow may be purchased for less than $10 while custom pillows with high-end covers and stuffing may cost $50 or more.

A travel pillow takes the strain off the back and neck and is recommended for use on airplanes, trains or long car rides.

Crescent-Shaped Pillows

The U- or crescent-shaped pillow is the most popular model and is available for order online or in store at stores ranging from Target to Brookstone to airport shops. The U-shaped pillow is set between the chair and back of the neck with the ends resting on the shoulders.The pillow should support the neck on three sides. This pillow will not prevent the head from falling forward. The travel pillow is also available in a "bone" shape, with a narrow middle and flared ends. This pillow works on the same idea as the U-shaped pillow.

Wedge-Shaped Pillow

Finally, a wedge-shaped inflatable pillow is available. This pillow is easy to pack as it only comes in an inflatable version and some come with "self-inflating" devices. When using this type of pillow, pull down the tray table before inflating. When inflated, this pillow should be set on the tray table and is used by leaning into to the pillow. This pillow is quite comfortable for more traditional "stomach sleepers."

J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.

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