My Secret to Actually Sleeping on Planes Is This Memory Foam Neck Pillow

The Cabeau Evolution S3 pillow comes with me on every trip.

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Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow


After eight years of working full time as a travel writer, I’ve pretty much perfected the art of sleeping on planes. In fact, I’m usually passed out long before the drink cart comes around. However, what I haven’t figured out, until recently, is how to keep my neck comfortable. My friends often joke that my best party trick is being able to crack my neck on command. I blame it on eight years of flying without a decent neck pillow. But this summer, I finally broke down and bought the best-selling Evolution S3 Pillow from Cabeau — the same brand behind Travel + Leisure’s top pick for hot sleepers.

Don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of really great travel pillows to choose from these days. I just never thought I needed one because I could fall asleep so fast. When deciding which pillow to buy myself, all I needed to know was that the Cabeau Evolution S3 had an impressive 4.4-star average rating from more than 2,900 perfect ratings on Amazon. Plus, my good friend, fellow travel writer Becca Blond, swears by hers. “I can’t fly without it,” she told me.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow


To buy:, $40

 At $40, the Evolution S3 isn’t the most affordable travel pillow on the market. However, it’s made of dual-density memory foam, so it’s a far cry from cheaper, flimsy pillows that lose their shape over time. I’m flying to Spain in two weeks to check out the new Club Med Magna Marbella, and I know that even if I lay on my pillow in one position for the full 8.5-hour flight, it will bounce back the second I lift my head. How do I know this? When I’m not using it, I stuff the pillow in its convenient carrying-case where it packs down to be about half its size. When I unzip the case, the pillow quickly comes to life and is just as firm as it was on day one. The case is a much-appreciated feature, and not just because it makes the pillow more compact. It also has an external strap with a buckle so I can attach it to the handle of my carry-on, freeing up precious interior space. The case also prevents the pillow from coming in contact with dirty surfaces in the airport or the Uber on my way to the hotel. 

I’m very sensitive when it comes to what I let come in contact with my face, so it’s not surprising  that my favorite feature of this pillow is the machine-washable pillow case. I’m not saying I’m a drooler (but I’m also not saying I’ve never slept with my mouth open). Plus, I often wear makeup that tends to come off while I’m sleeping. Once I return home, all I have to do is unzip the pillow case, which is on the back of the pillow near the bottom so it doesn’t bother me when I’m sleeping, slip off the case, and wash and dry it with a regular load of laundry.  

 My friend Becca’s favorite feature, and one I appreciate too, is the pillow’s straps that attach to your airplane headrest. They hold the pillow in place and prevent it from sliding to one side or falling altogether. Similarly, the pillow’s chin strap keeps my chin lifted while I slumber. And thanks to the pillow’s handy built-in side pocket, I never lose my ear plugs. The pocket is approximately two inches by three inches, so it can also fit a must-have eye mask if it’s folded up.   

 I have no control over whether or not my flight departs or arrives on time, but between my ear plugs, my eye mask, and this pillow, I’m confident I can get some quality shut-eye at cruising altitude. And because this pillow is personally endorsed by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Neil Ghodadra, I also know I’m doing something great for my neck. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against party tricks. I’d just rather be able to do a backflip off the back deck than be able to crack my neck.

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