Travellers don’t observe workday rules of 9-5, Monday-Friday, with public holidays off. Neither do airline cabin crews: working long shifts, weekends, and holidays, and spending several nights away from home at a time. So they are extremely discerning when it comes to selecting a travel pillow that meets their needs.
Teri O'Toole, Flight Attendants Association of Australia Federal Secretary (and ultra-frequent flyer,) knows the importance of a travel pillow to stay healthy and perform under challenging conditions. “Cabin crew are always moving between hotels, home or aircraft. Sleep is so important for crew to recover and manage fatigue so it makes good sense to have your own comfortable pillow to take with you.”
Overall, an ergonomic memory foam travel pillow can help busy crew find comfort and rest, even at 10,000 metres. But what should you look for?
As flight lengths increase (Melbourne to Dallas, for example) so too does the need to maximise comfort and fully rest the head and neck during breaks during and between flights. As a material, open cell memory foam provides this optimal mix of comfort and support, whether lying down or sitting upright during taxi and take-off. The highest quality foams are also formulated to offer a consistent feel in all temperatures and any altitude.
Look for an ergonomic shape that conforms to the head, neck and shoulders, providing support and alignment – beneficial when frequently repeated movements include standing and looking down at or leaning over passengers. ‘Life adminning’, with a laptop balanced on a cramped hotel room desk, and no ergonomic chair in sight? Look for a travel pillow that can convert into a bolster to care for your lumbar area.
For all their clever features and materials, a travel pillow you’ll actually use, needs to be compact, lightweight, and easy to pack and carry, not just on and off the plane, but on layovers and leisure trips.
Constant travel makes us crave the familiar. A favourite travel pillow can instantly make an anonymous greige hotel room feel more like home. Look for one with removeable, washable covers in natural fibres, and spritz with sleep spray.
What if your travel pillow wasn’t just for travel? Think of different ways you need support in other situations: yoga and meditation, at the beach or by the pool, or on long car rides. To maintain your skin care regime and keep hair smooth and your style intact, you may want to find one with a silk pillowcase.
When it comes to finding a travel pillow that combines all these qualities, Teri recommends the Go Pillow by Hyoumankind. “I’ve always struggled to find a pillow that provided both support and comfort and also is not too soft or too hard. This has never been easy however your product is IT! I’m sleeping longer and better, and the fact it’s small and has a carry bag just adds to the benefits. A good sleep is essential to overall wellbeing and I feel the Go Pillow is an investment towards making each and every sleep opportunity better. This would be great for airlines to provide as part of the uniform!"
This article originally appeared in The Silent Review – the magazine of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia. We are grateful to the Union and to Teri O’Toole, who tested the Go Pillow and gave us her valuable feedback.