This oddly shaped travel pillow promises to help everyone sleep on the plane. With a 12 hour flight coming up we decided to give it a try.
Even if, like me, you love to travel, a really long face-down flight is enough for everyone to clutch their favorite travel pillow a little tighter. But I had good reason to book this 12-hour flight from Los Angeles International to Auckland, New Zealand: I moved home and was excited to hug my family for the first time in two years. But escape, that excruciatingly long test of personal endurance, got in my way.
I can’t sleep on airplanes. At all. At home I have a cooling pillow for those hot summer nights. Days of research into the best pillow for every sleeper led me to my personal sleep saver, an amazing pillow for side sleepers. But while I’ve tried every neck pillow, the noise of the engines and the insistence that passengers stay almost vertical always kept me from getting even a single wink, let alone 40, on an airplane. This time, I was determined to do that to find the best travel pillow. I came across the trtl travel pillow with 16,000+ five star reviews on Amazon and decided to give it a try. A 12 hour flight later I was a trtl – I mean totally – convert.
What is the trtl travel pillow?
With over 1 million items sold, there is no doubt among consumers that trtl is the best travel pillow ever. However, it doesn’t look like any other travel pillow you’ve ever seen. In fact, it looks remarkably like a scarf. While other travel neck pillows wrap around your neck in a U-shape, the trtl travel pillow has an inner C-shaped plastic frame, a kind of neck support. It’s designed to fit between your shoulder and ear and support your head while you snooze. The frame is padded for comfort and is held in place by a long, soft fleece insert that wraps around the neck and is fastened with Velcro. The shawl-like warmth of the trtl was particularly important to me, as I tend to get cold on the plane.
When I first came across the trtl, a few things made me hesitate: At $ 29.99, it seemed a bit expensive to start with. I also worried that it would be uncomfortable to wear my headphones underneath or that it would be difficult to breathe with a mask and a scarf wrapped around my head. Sure, there are much cheaper travel pillows out there, but all of the top-rated ones were about the same price, and many were even more expensive. I figured I wouldn’t mind spending the money if my investment pays off in just an hour or two of sleep. As for my other concerns, on the plane I found that despite the earplugs and mask, I was still comfortable as the frame is padded and the fleece is forgiving. When attached, the frame feels firm and supportive, but it doesn’t dig in, and the fleece is warm, cozy and … zzzzz … There are a lot of things you can’t do on airplanes but sleep stands thanks trtl definitely not on my list anymore.
How does it work?
Chiropractor and yoga teacher Erika Putnam says neck pillows are a great idea for travel. “The best would support the natural curvature of the cervical spine,” she explains. For the layman, this is the normal curvature of your neck vertebrae. “Airplane seats and gravity tend to reverse the natural curve, which can, and even irritate, disc problems and arthritis in some people [cause] Arm pain. “We knew airline seats were designed with our discomfort in mind! Putnam said a good neck pillow should minimize stress on muscles and ligaments, help the natural curve of your neck, and signal to your neighbor that you mean business sleep and not chat, which is a great tip for people who are afraid of small talk.
The need to support the natural curve of the neck also explains why the trtl worked for me when no previous travel pillow had done it. Every time in the past I’ve tried using a standard U-shaped travel neck pillow, it has been a classic airplane travel mistake. My head would just fall to one side with no support – uncomfortably, I stretched one side of my neck and squeezed the other. What makes the trtl the best travel pillow is its ergonomic design to support the weight of your head and keep your neck in a neutral orientation. This is extremely important. As if sleeping sitting in a cramped airplane seat wasn’t hard enough, the average human head weighs around 10 pounds, which is a lot for any neck for 24 hours.
Fortunately, I had the strength to relieve the brain of my poor vertebrae. After positioning it correctly between my shoulder and ear, my head was tilted just a little to the side, just enough for the trtl to support the weight of my head. If I close my eyes I could almost lie!
Did the trtl travel pillow help me sleep?
Well, of the total of 12 hours I spent on the plane, eight passed in sweet, sweet sleep. Eight! According to doctors, this is a normal night’s sleep. The best travel pillow alone couldn’t solve all of my sleep problems (read: the engine noise) so I added a pair of headphones and slept (say it with me) EIGHT HOURS across the Pacific Ocean! I spent the other four hours of flight reading, watching movies, walking around the cabin trying to find the emergency chocolate that I had tucked in the bottom of my bag.
Sure, I woke up from time to time, usually turning the trtl travel pillow from one side of my neck to the other, but overall my sleep quality was way above expectations for a plane trip. I arrived in Auckland with no neck pain and felt pretty good, and made it through almost a full day awake before the jet lag started. But that’s a whole different story. (Although someone has a cure for jet lag, please let me know).
- As soon as you remove the plastic insert, the pillow is machine washable.
- It’s light (weighs only half a pound).
- It’s smaller than regular travel neck pillows so it’s easy to pack.
- It is made of warm, antimicrobial fleece.
- It comes in four cool colors.
- It’s ergonomically designed to keep your neck in line.
- You can choose from three sizes: Junior, Adult and Plus.
- The plus pillow is adjustable for different body sizes and shapes.
- Perfect for side sleepers like me!
- Some people have difficulty finding a comfortable position. Everyone’s body is different, but the trtl travel pillow seems to work for most people and the plus pillow is customizable.
- The Velcro is pretty loud. I was a little embarrassed by the repeated tearing noises I made as I adjusted the door to optimally support my head.
- If you run hot, the fleece may be a little warm for you.
- Although the Trtl pillow is small enough to fit in most carry-on bags, it doesn’t fold flat, which can be uncomfortable if you tend to overpack.
Where can you buy the trtl travel pillow
The trtl travel pillow is available from Amazon and directly from the retailer. It’s available in three sizes (Junior, Adult, and Plus) and four colors (gray, black, red, and coral) on both sites.
Amazon reviewers are also obsessed with this travel neck pillow
I’m not the only lucky napper! Here are a few five-star Amazon reviews from fellow impressed travelers:
My2cents: “This pillow is great! When I first used trtl, I literally fell asleep before takeoff, slept like an undisturbed baby, and woke up seven hours later just before landing! Needless to say, I was surprised, rested … and thrilled! I also used trtl to take a nap at a charging station at Dublin International on the way back. I have to say, it’s the ultimate airport cat nap accessory! “
Cecilia: “The trtl has changed everything. I boarded my transatlantic flight, wrapped the trtl around me, held the headphones (clumsily) over my ears and woke up eight hours later when I landed in Stockholm. I could not believe it. Then I got on a bus with my trusty Trtl in tow and passed out for another five hours! I wasn’t even tired – I just used it to relax and look out the window! I don’t know if they soak the damn thing in chloroform, but it works and I’ll never travel without a Trtl again. “
Frank E. Trinkle: “FINALLY !!!! I travel internationally on very long flights, unfortunately in economy, every four weeks. Some flights last longer than 12 hours non-stop. I’ve tried many products and tried to find one that actually supports my head comfortably and allows me to sleep properly while sitting in a terrible seat. This is the first and ONLY one that actually fit the bill! More than just recommended – irreplaceable! “
Next, check out these other top rated sleep products on Amazon to help you close your eyes a little bit on a flight and in your own bed.