If you’ve ever tried a typical U-shaped neck pillow, you probably wondered how such a cumbersome — and uncomfortable — design became so ubiquitous. Instead of gently cradling your head, the wide back section forces your head forward, misaligning your spine without providing chin support. And as a travel nurse heading to their next assignment, there is no time to recover from back aches and stiff necks. Luckily, there is a better way to snooze aloft — several, in fact. Here are our picks for some of the most innovative travel pillows:

    Bcozzy Neck Pillow

    If your head tends to suddenly drop forward when you doze on the plane, this pillow from Bcozzy will keep your head comfortably upright while supporting your chin. The pillow’s varying thickness and snug “arms” make it easily adjustable for the most comfortable sleep whether you’re sitting in the window, aisle, and even the dreaded middle seat. No more waking to find your head lolling against your neighbor’s shoulder! Despite its unusual shape, this pillow (available in memory foam or inflatable versions) compresses to fit neatly into its traveling case. It won’t get in the way of your earphones, so enjoy your airborne concerts! And for those family road trips, the Bcozzy comes in a brightly colored kids’ version, too. 

     

     

    Trtl Neck Rest

    The most out-of-the-box travel neck support — we can’t really call it a pillow — is the Trtl. This cozy, plush, scarf-ish wrap has a hidden internal neck support that holds your head and neck in the best position for sleeping. The manufacturer asserts the Trtl is scientifically proven to be better than a U-shaped neck pillow and has been strategically designed to prevent stiff necks and sore shoulders. It’s foldable, machine washable, height-adjustable, lightweight, and keeps your head upright to prevent a stiff neck.

     

     

    Travelrest Cross-Body Pillow

    Here’s another creative take on the travel pillow. The Travelrest website tells us this inflatable pillow attaches to the wings of an airline seat or car headrest, or nestling against the head and neck to provide support and comfort in flight or on the road. The pillow inflates with three or four easy puffs and deflates in seconds. The deflated pillow rolls up into a compact 3 x 10 inches, so it’s easy to tuck into a backpack pocket or looped over your trolley suitcase handle. It’s hand washable, too.

     

     

    Therm-a-Rest Lumbar Pillow

    Have you ever finished a long or not-so-long flight with a backache? Most airplane seats provide little to zero lumbar support, so this inflatable lumbar pillow might be just the ticket. The Therm-a-Rest lumbar pillow manufacturer says its product “features die-cut foam down the center to reduce pressure along the spine, while maintaining density on the sides for lateral support. It’s self-inflating to allow a personalized level of support and can be adjusted with one hand to add critical comfort to bad seats anywhere.” That goes for car seats, too. 

    Travel nurses work hard enough on the job, there’s no reason to suffer when traveling between jobs. Reclaim relaxation on the airplane and invest ($25-$30)  in one of these innovative travel pillows.

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