Packing a travel pillow is an essential indulgence

The key to any successful trip is packing. You don’t want to carry a heavy bag, but you also don’t want to live the spartan life of a monk. Creature comforts are what make us… comfortable.

I usually attack my packing by laying everything I’m taking out on the floor so I can get a clear view of what I’ve deemed necessary, usually too many items of clothing, from there I cut about half the items, and from there cut in half again.

packing a travel pillow

You needn’t get your gear down too light if you’re on a road trip, as you can comfortably fill a car with crap, but if you’re travelling by plane, bicycle or foot, the smaller your pack, the more enjoyable your trip is going to be.

Why packing a travel pillow is smart

My one constant indulgence is packing a travel pillow, something I know is comfortable. I haven’t even gone as far as trying out the inflatable pillows or other sensible easily packed variations, I’m talking about taking a normal pillow.

Usually, it’s a smaller version of the pillow I’d use at home. For my cycle journey across America I cut a third from a memory-foam pillow I had been using for years, sewed a new pillowcase and slept comfortably for three months including stealth camping in a clump of trees near to a Walmart and a field filled with vermin.

You hopefully get to spend 8 hours a night with your head resting comfortably, compare the use of a good pillow to any other piece of equipment you could take as a luxury and I think you’ll get the most use out of a pillow.

Best travel pillows



Hopefully it’s clear I’m joking, these are contraptions not pillows. I’d not recommend packing a travel pillow if it looks like either of the above.

I advocate for people taking a pillow they are familiar and comfortable with, especially during a hotel stay. If you’re backpacking or need to travel light, here are some options.

Therm-a-Rest Stuff Sack

packing a travel pillow

If weight and space is your packing enemy, it’s hard to go past a stuff sack. I’ve used a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad for years, it has never let me down. The idea behind the stuff sack is by day you can safely pack all your spare clothes into the dry sack, protecting your gear from any unforeseen spills or if you fall in a river. The inside of the bag is lined with soft microfleece. Simply turn the bag inside out, stuff it full of clothes and you have yourself a decent pillow. Only problem occurs when you’re cold camping and need to wear all your clothes.

Check it out at REI 

Nemo Fillo backpacking pillow

packing a travel pillow

As far as pillows to go out and spend money on, I like the Nemo Fillo. A combination of memory foam and an inflatable air bladder. It packs small but is firm under head. Comfortable and effective.

Nemo Fillo backpacking pillow

Take whatever you have at home

Do you really need to go spend $50 on a camping pillow? With regards to survival, no. But with all things camping if you want it to work really well and be designed for the purpose of camping, then yes. However, I use whatever I find lying around. Our sleeping positions are so unique it’s impossible for me to say what pillow you will find comfortable. Take a cushion, alter an existing pillow, knowing you’re packing a travel pillow you’ve found comfortable in the past will increase your comfort in whatever situation you find yourself.

packing a travel pillow

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