Travelling with your pillow I Soak&Sleep

Celebrities, supermodels and athletes are often snapped stepping off private jets with their own pillow under their arm, but is it realistic for the rest of us, or is it just a packing nightmare?  We all know that getting enough sleep can mean the difference between having a good day or a bad one, or a great holiday or a terrible one, so making space for this essential piece of comfort is definitely worth mulling over. Read our guide here on taking holidays with your headrest.

Why are pillows so important for sleep?

Sleeping with the right pillow is one of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep, as well as helping you spring out of bed the next morning. Every individual sleeps differently, but we can be categorised to some degree as being predominantly back sleepers, side sleepers or front sleepers. Getting the right pillow for these sleeping positions is essential for making you feel comfortable at night, and ensuring your body is aligned properly so you do not wake up with back, hip, shoulder or neck pain. For example, a side sleeper requires a medium-firm pillow to keep the head aligned with the neck at shoulder level. A front sleeper requires a much softer pillow so that the head is not elevated at an uncomfortable angle, putting pressure on the neck. 

As well as this anyone suffering from allergies will know that the wrong pillow can aggravate that allergy to an uncomfortable level, which could really impact on the enjoyment potential of your holiday. Pillows filled with synthetic fillings, such as this Soft As Down Microfibre pillow, are good options for allergy sufferers, or for those that prefer natural fillings, this naturally hypoallergenic New Zealand Wool pillow is a great choice. 


Pillows can also help you regulate your temperature at night - another important factor in helping you get a good night’s rest. A pillow with a casing made from natural fibres, such as this Pure Silk pillow, will keep you cool in Summer and warm in Winter. 

And if you need a speciality pillow like a pillow to go under your knees, which helps support a neutral knee position, it’s essential you take your own one with you as you’ll be unlikely to find those in any holiday accommodation. 

Last but not least, pillow comfort is also partly a matter of choice, something you cannot guarantee if you are staying away from home, so why not just pop your pillow in your backpack to guarantee a good night’s sleep every night of your break? 

Aren’t hotel pillows likely to be better than the ones I have at home?

Not necessarily. Most hotels don’t offer a pillow menu so you are likely to get a one-size-fits-all option which may not suit your sleeping position or the amount of softness or firmness you prefer to sleep on. 

Secondly, many hotels use harsh laundry products on their pillows, pillow protectors and bed linen between guests and this may aggravate symptoms for any allergy sufferers. 

And even if they do follow stringent cleaning procedures, it is likely that each pillow will still retain a small amount of allergens in the case of dead skin, hair, sweat and even saliva from previous guests. 

Top hotels will replace their pillows regularly, but this might not be the case with smaller properties, or holiday lets. 


Are you allowed to travel with your pillow?

Most planes will allow you to take a pillow into the cabin, although some will insist you must be able to fit it into your backpack or carry on luggage. If you are unable to take your pillow on board, consider a Memory Foam neck pillow for the journey. 

Alternatively, you can pack your pillow in your suitcase which will then go into the cargo compartment so you don’t have to think about it again until your arrival. And although you may worry that it will take up a large proportion of your suitcase, it’s probably one of the most important items for your holiday. Even one bad night’s sleep can impact your day and when you’re likely to be only away for a week or a fortnight that’s a sizable part of your vacation ruined. Plus of course, you’ll look better in your holiday photos if you’ve had a good night’s sleep. 

With the recent Covid-19 pandemic, many plane operators are no longer handing out pillows and blankets on board, so for long haul flights in particular you may want to use your pillow on the flight itself to help you get comfortable. This is also the case for car journeys, ferries or train trips. Take a spare pillow protector with you, for the journey alone, so you can keep your pillow clean for when you arrive and simply launder your pillow protector when you get home. 

So what are the top tips for travelling with your pillow?

  1. Consider packing your pillow in a vacuum bag which will reduce its size and volume. 
  2. Buy a spare pillow protector to take with you which can be easily laundered. 
  3. Ask your travel operator if you can take your pillow on board so you don’t have to worry about it when you get to the airport or terminal. 
  4. Consider taking a coloured pillow case with you so that your pillow stands out to give you a reminder to bring it home at the end of the holiday!