A travel pillow hovers around the top of everyone’s packing list when gearing up for a long haul flight but while ubiquitous, the bean bag styles you’ll find dotted throughout the airport are rarely fit for purpose. Thankfully, plenty of brands nowadays offer superior alternatives – and Trtl especially has made good headway in changing the game for frequent flyers.
More a fleece scarf than a pillow per se, Trtl travel pillows have a curved u-shaped internal support stand that sits under your jaw, over which there’s a memory foam pad to rest your head, secured in place by wrapping the fabric around your neck and connecting the velcro. The original was lauded by most upon launch, but some reviewers were left disappointed when the unique shape didn’t work for them. The brand has listened, however, and released a new adjustable offering that ensures more customised support for people of all heights.
Faced with the prospect of a 14-hour flight on a recent trip to Japan, I was keen to give it a go. To ensure a fair test, I tried the original and adjustable iterations at home the night before my flight. Undeniably, the additional control the newer version gave made a noticeable difference in my comfort level while sat upright – and I’m not even tall, at 5’4″. I asked my partner, 6’2”, to try as well, and he also agreed the Plus was more comfortable.
It is a different experience to using a U-shaped neck pillow, and it took a minute to shake off the feeling that I’d trussed myself up in a neck brace; a traditional travel pillow this is not. I’d recommend adjusting it before it’s time to board, as it took a bit of fiddling to get it just right. Flying for so long is tedious enough without any added irritations.
Nonetheless, once primed, the new Trtl travel pillow was a good addition to my carry-on. It kept me in a much more comfortable position than my regular approach of leaning against the window, ultimately leading to back and neck aches when it was time to disembark. That goes double for those in the aisle and middle seats – it’s undoubtedly a better support system than the seat’s headrest when attempting to nod off upright.
The main bonus is that it prevents your head from jerking forward and waking you up, so it’s a good choice for overnight flights. I took a redeye home and it meant I arrived back in London at 6am having had more sleep than usual on a plane, helping to stave off the jet lag just a little. I felt no neck pain when I landed, either.
Weighing just 225 grams, it won’t eat into your baggage allowance, and the carry bag has a clip to attach to your backpack. It’s easy to sling in the washing machine to clean it; just pop out the plastic insert and you’re good to go.
On the other hand, while the soft fleece fabric is very cosy, some might say that it’s too warm. The brand would do well to release an adjustable version in its cooler iteration as well. I tend to run cold on average, so it wasn’t a huge problem for me, but it means this particular neck pillow might not be ideal for hot sleepers.
Of course, increased functionality means it’s also more expensive than the standard pillow, coming in at £89.99 compared to the former’s £59.99. If price is a consideration, you may find the original version perfectly adequate, which many reviewers already do. But personally, I found the neck support offered with the Plus tangibly improved, and it’s this version I’ll be packing into my hand luggage for my next trip. As for my U-shaped pillow? That will remain at home.
Pros: Machine washable, two-way adjustability, lightweight, does make it easier to nod off in an upright position than u-shaped pillows
Cons: Could be too warm for hot sleepers
You can shop the Trtl Pillow Plus on Amazon here. While you’re looking for long-haul hacks, read our review of this headphone transmitter, one of our newest travel essentials, which allows you to use your own headphones with the inflight television. Alternatively, see our full guide to the best travel pillows to buy now.