Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Trtl Travel Pillow review | CNN Underscored

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Cassandra Brooklyn/CNN Underscored

You know how people will often say to “just sleep on the flight”? Well, that’s not an option for us sensitive sleepers, as we struggle to sleep on planes regardless of how exhausted we are. Long-haul flights are the absolute worst, but if you love to travel, they’re hard to avoid. And, unless you’re a VIP in business class (which I am not), you’re probably stuck with me in coach, struggling to get comfortable.

Airline-provided pillows and blankets aren’t enough, and even when paired with one of the best sleep masks, I still toss and turn during the entire flight. That’s why I’m always looking for smart products that will help me catch some zzz’s. I’ve tried numerous travel pillows over the years and always wear a blackout eye mask with earplugs. Still, I rarely sleep more than 30 minutes at a time.

Enter the Trtl Travel Pillow, a smartly designed neck pillow that actually works. I wore it during nine hours of flying from New York City to Slovenia (not to mention the three-hour layover in Paris) and again on the flights back. It made a big difference.

Here’s a closer look at the Trtl Travel Pillow, why we love it so much and why you may want to consider it for your next flight.

This compact, affordable neck pillow wraps vertically around your neck to provide ergonomic support to prevent neck strain while sleeping on a plane. It folds into itself and includes a handy carrying bag to stay clean between uses.

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This pillow looks very different from other travel pillows and is not necessarily intuitive. It may take time to get used to how you position the curved neck support. Fortunately, Trtl includes a handy sticker on the pillow that shows you exactly which way to face the curve on your neck before wrapping the Velcro scarf around to hold it in place. I had to refer to the sticker the first few times I used it, but now I’m used to it and throw it on like a pro.

It’s slim, small and very packable

My main issue with most travel pillows is not that they don’t work (though some of them don’t); rather, it’s that they take up too much space. Even when I’m on a 23-hour flight (which I was during a recent trip to Sri Lanka), I still don’t want to haul around a bulky neck pillow on my trip, simply because I never want to allocate that much space to an item that won’t be used during the trip itself. Because the Trtl is so small and fairly flat, it easily fits into a backpack or suitcase when it’s not in use.

Great for planes, trains and automobiles

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While I initially planned to just use the neck pillow on the flights to and from Slovenia, I quickly learned how convenient and helpful it is for other types of travel. Even before leaving the United States, I looped it onto my backpack on the train to easily whip it out and sleep. Once in Slovenia, I used it to catch a quick snooze on bus trips.

Slovenia is a small country, so most of our hikes and day trip activities were just 20 to 40 minutes away, but there were several days when we would travel by bus for a couple of hours to reach another region. Because the Trtl neck pillow is so compact and lightweight, I stashed it in my daypack and pulled it out to sleep here and there on the bus.

Handy carrying case and easily washable

I’ve noticed that many people traveling with neck pillows store them wrapped around their luggage handle or strapped onto a backpack. While this is convenient, the pillow is up against the elements, potentially bumping into the grossness of airports, trains, bus stations and bathrooms.

The Trtl neck pillow comes with a handy carrying case that protects it from dust, dirt and any filth you may encounter, and the pillow is also machine-washable.

The goofy design initially made me a bit skeptical, but this pillow actually works. In fact, Trtl claims that its pillow is “scientifically proven to hold the head and neck in a better ergonomic position than a traditional travel pillow.” Indeed, my neck felt very supported, and I didn’t experience the neck and shoulder strain I typically get when relying on an airline pillow or scrunched-up hoodie.

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There’s a lot to love about this pillow, but I did find one room for improvement. The metal clasp on the carrying case is quite small, which limits what it can be hooked onto. I hooked it onto a small strap on my backpack, but the hook is too small to be latched onto much more than a thin strap. If it were larger, it could be hooked onto a suitcase handle, which would be convenient. I brought the Away Trunk suitcase on this trip to Slovenia and would have loved to hook the pillow there.

As this pillow can extend past one of your ears, it can interfere with headphones or earbuds. I wore the Sony wireless noise-canceling earbuds on the flight to Slovenia and on bus rides, and I found that on the side where I wore the pillow, that earbud would bump around and fall out if I moved a lot. On the flight back, I wore over-ear Sony noise-canceling headphones, which fared better. The headphone size prevented the neck pillow from rising and bumping them off, but I still felt my neck was sufficiently supported.

Colors 3
Weight 4.5 oz.
Key features Wraparound design, very sturdy support, slim and easy to store


Colors 3
Weight 7.5 oz.
Key features Ergonomic, washable, chin support, portable, multiple uses


After traveling with the Trtl Travel Pillow to Europe, I can safely say it provides compact, ergonomic support that significantly enhances comfort during long-haul flights. Its innovative design and portability make it an essential accessory for frequent travelers seeking better in-flight sleep.

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