Sleep, rest and feeling comfy are essential for long trips with kids. Whether you are traveling on an epic road trip or off somewhere flying long haul with children, picking the right kids neck pillow or travel pillow is a must!
If you are wondering if travel pillows are worth it, then many parents would agree for long or night journeys, then they absolutely are; travel pillows may add to some bulkier carryon, but we have never regretted taking any of our various travel pillows for kids.
So, what type of travel pillow is best?
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The best travel pillow for kids depends vary much on their age, what sort of transport it will be used for and value for money. Neck support is obviously important as is overall comfort, but ease of use and its compactness are all further useful indicators to help you choose.
You may prefer a good all rounder neck pillow for car and plane rides; or if you fly fairly frequently (or have a long haul flight with kids planned), then an inflatable pillow for airplanes – where younger kids (seven & under) can lie flat in an economy plane seat – making them the envy of every adult!
In this article you will find a range of children’s travel pillows from toddlers to older kids; some which have dual use for planes and cars, and some which are best for a particular mode of transport as well as other items to help children feel more comfortable and sleep whilst travelling.
Car pillows for kids
If you are considering using a neck pillow in a car for a long road trip, check to see if it is compatible with your child’s car seat. Babies and toddlers car seats often have removable, adjustable support cushions and head rests built in. The use of an additional neck rest may alter a young child’s head from its safest position. Most of these travel pillows suit older toddlers and above who have moved to a booster seat due to their height/weight but there is a toddler section below too.
If you are in a rush, here is our quick guide, otherwise do look at the comparison tables below to decide which children’s travel neck pillow or other comfort item is best for your family.
The Best Travel Pillows For Kids Compared
|Roamwild Armrest Buddy Children’s Travel Pillow & Blanket
|Transforms an armrest into a comfy pillow
|BCOZZY Kids Chin Supporting Travel Pillow
|7 standard colours, 24+ patterned designs
|Trunki Travel Neck Pillow – Yondi
|Has a magnetic clasp for neck support. Designed for kids aged 18m – 4 years with neck circumference less than 12 Inches. Comes in 7 animal and colour designs including Monkey, Owl, Lion, Fox, Dino
|Nido Nest Neck Pillow
|Offers gentle support as made of microbeads. Easy to clean
with a removable and washable cover. Options include Ladybird, Bumble Bee, Frog, Owl and Pig
|Cloudz Kids Pillow Plush Animal
|13 animal designs, including unicorn. Has a snap closure which allows you to secure the pillow around your neck to help prevent your head from falling forward. Easily attaches to luggage
|Worlds Best Feather Soft travel pillow
|Easy care, can be washed in washing machine. Can get lots of different colors
Toddler Travel Pillows in a Smaller Size
The following toddler travel pillows are slightly smaller and narrower for little ones to use whilst travelling.
The Trunki Travel Neck Pillow – Yondi is wipe clean and has a magnetic clasp for neck support. It’s designed for kids aged 18m – 3 years with neck circumference less than 12 Inches. Comes in 7 animal and colour designs including monkey, owl, lion, fox and dinosaur.
Airplane Pillows For Kids
Everything you need to know about Airplane Pillows, Sleep Devices & Inflatable Leg-Rests
Note that flight hammocks, like Flye Legs Up, are often not allowed on airlines, (including the airlines that normally do allow parents to bring a sleep aid or toddler flight bed,) as they attach to a part of a plane.
Getting your child to have a decent sleep on a long haul flight, is the dream of many parents, including my own!
There are now a myriad of products on the market offering an inflight sleep solution; some with either an airplane seat extender which extends a mattress from the footwell to the seat; inflates into the footwell to fill in the gap or acts as a larger comfy but portable pillow.
We’ve tried and tested most, research and update which airlines do & don’t allow them and found out all you need to know before making a purchase.
Inflight sleep products like these, have become a natural part of our cabin baggage, shared out to friends to try too, and have a degree of influence over which airlines we now choose to fly to some destinations.
These inflight comfort devices or seat extenders, (also known as “inflatable foot rests”, “inflatable travel mattresses”, “convertible in-flight beds” or “bed boxes” ), are an ingenious way of converting an economy seat into a comfortable flat bed for kids and cheaper than an upgrade!
They take little time to set up, are relatively light and don’t take up much space: all attractive qualities for parents traveling with kids.
What child seat extenders are available and which are the best?
Jetkids BedBox by Stokke (formerly sold under JetSet Kids)
The Jetkids Stokke Bedbox is the only one I haven’t tried but I have friends who have. It not only converts an economy seat into an inflight bed, but also acts as ride on suitcase with some extra storage space inside. (It also houses the mattress.) With the straps you can pull a 3 year old along around the airport or offer them somewhere clean to sit whilst in a queue.
On board, you simply take out the mattress, stand the suitcase up and et voila the bed is made!
Pros: it doubles up as a ride on and is very easy to set up.
Cons: Not a lot of storage space and bulky if your kids doesn’t want to ride on it!
Dimensions: 75cm wide x 37cm long x 44cm high
Age range: 2-8 years
An inflatable foot rest made of smooth black vinyl which is simple to use: blow it up and position in your child’s foot space.
The inventors have designed in flexibility by allowing you to use it in three ways: lengthways in line with the seat ideal if you have the extra space at the bulkhead bassinet position), widthways across the seat base, or upside down. That’s because the Plane Pal is T-shaped and wider at the top than the bottom, so if you’re struggling to squeeze it in behind the seat in front, just flip it on its head.
It takes just over two minutes to inflate using a hand pump, which comes in the Plane Pal carry case along with the mattress.
Pros: Packs up small, easy to set up.
Cons: Can be a bit fiddly with the pump. For a full PlanePal review on Singapore Airlines see here
The FlyAway product has been made with the IATA (International Air Transport Association) guidelines in mind. For those airlines which specify only certain brands of seat extenders can be used, in my opinion, I think this one will be added to their lists.
Dimensions: 50cm wide x 60-80cm long x 52cm high
Load: up to 50kg
Age range: 2-7 years
It takes about 100 seconds to inflate, given there’s less volume to blow up than in the Plane Pal. Again there are two inflation valves which operate one-way to prevent any air escaping while you blow it up, and a third escape red valve which releases air pressure if you over inflate. Read my full FlyAway review here.
Do airlines allow inflatable footrests and airplane seat extenders?
Quick answer? Some do and some don’t. Below details the airlines which officially allow or prohibit them and state this on their website. Just click on the links to view their entire policy.
Airlines who officially do NOT allow most sleep travel gadgets/airplane beds for toddlers and say so on their website are:
- Air France
- Air New Zealand – they do have a SkyCouch though. Note they do not allow the CoziGo either.
- British Airways (They only allow the Cozigo Bassinet Cover)
- Turkish Airlines – Confirmed directly with safety team that they do not allow any inflatable devices)
- United .
Airlines which OFFICIALLY APPROVE some sleep devices for children (as long as certain guidelines are met) and say so on their website:
However, note that the final decision will always rest with the crew.
- Air Canada – Infant beds like eg Flyaway, Bedbox can be used onboard when the plane seatbelt sign is off ie NOT during taxi, take-off, turbulence and landing. If traveling with Air Canada, and queried, please ask the crew politely to check their manuals as this is a recent change. Similar items are not permitted if they attached to a fixed part of the aircraft.
- Air Mauritius
- Air Vanuatu
- American Airways – Yes – see image below for full details.
- British Airways (ONLY allow CoziGo bassinet cover)
- Cathay Pacific
- EVA air
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic – allow JetKids by Stokke BedBox and Planepal brands only
- Virgin Australia
Choose your seats wisely before using
All airlines that permit the use of the BedBox, PlanePal, FlyAway et al, do have certain requirements about their use, and where they can be used. For example, they must not be used on an aisle seat. Other rules include: (but are not limited too)
RULES FOR USING AN INFLIGHT SLEEP DEVICE
- Inflatable inflight beds may only be used at the window seats or the middle seat between the aisles.
- The childs head must be toward the back of their own seat.
- Your child must also be able to fasten the seatbelt under his or her arm when using the inflight bed.
- If your child is under two years of age, he or she must be removed from the convertible inflight bed, and secured with an infant seatbelt whenever the seatbelt sign is switched on.
- The item must not interfere with the comfort of another passenger
- It must not be attached to any part of the aircraft.
My airline won’t allow a child seat extender. What other child sleep devices options are there?
Although there are gadgets like Fly Legs Up and the Flyebaby hammock, there are even fewer airlines which permit their use. This is because they directly apply weight to the tray table or seat which hasn’t been built or tested for that.
Travel gadgets like this can also cause damage to the seat and tray table.
Below are a couple of travel products which seem to be permitted on most airlines as they are effectively a larger version of a travel pillow. There may, however, be restrictions on their use; for example on take off and during landing.
Travel Snug Travel Pillow For Planes
The Travel Snug children’s travel pillow and blanket encompasses a child with a fleecy material. This pads out the seat a bit more and makes the arm rest a comfortable place to rest a weary head.
I’ve flown many times with my now 1 and 4 year old and have always been exasperated by the small pillow in economy, which always falls through the armrest and ends up in the aisle at least ten times. I was given the opportunity to trial a Travel Snug recently, which solves this issue and more.
The Travel Snug is basically a fleecy padded seat cover which lays over the bottom of the seat and also provides comfortable support around the back and sides too.
It also comes with a fleecy blanket; both come in a variety of colours and patterns. As an added bonus it can act a bit of a booster seat- handy for little ones who can’t quite reach the tray table.
For young children – it is an ideal solution for trying to get comfy on a hard airplane seat, with bulky metal seat buckles and armrests making it harder to get snug. I can imagine it would also be useful for long coach rides.
The Travel Snug is a bit bulky to carry, although it does have straps to make it easier. However, it is very comfy and comes with a matching blanket. Read my full review for further details here.
Seat To Sleep Travel Pillow for Planes
The Seat to Sleep is a very portable kids airplane pillow. It packs up small and it is inflatable. Read my full review for further details here.
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