I am a sucker for travel gadgets and hacks. Even though some years I'm lucky if I step on a plane more than two or three times, I'll do anything to make those few hours crammed into Economy feel a bit more comfortable.
Step forward the Trtl ($21, originally $30), a new design that replaces the traditional neck pillow. It's lightweight, takes up less room than a lot of rival products, and really does the job. The fleece-wrapped "pillow" wraps around your neck, and the magic comes from the almost-rigid internal structure that's designed to cradle the head and stop it from moving. With the last day of the Amazon Prime Sale, this pillow is discounted 30 percent, so be sure to pick it up before your next trip.
It looks a bit weird and flimsy, and I'll be honest when I say I wasn't expecting it to be up to the job. The reviews, particularly those on Amazon, are really divisive, which suggests it depends very much on the individual wearer. But for me at least, this was a revelation.
I've never found it easy to sleep on planes, and one reason for that is that I need support for my neck, but I've never found traditional neck pillows to be up to the job. They're bulky, they don't really work if you're wearing headphones (and my noise-canceling over-ear headphones are nonnegotiable!), and unless you wear them forward, they don't actually stop your head from bobbing if you do nod off.
The Trtl is designed to solve that problem and is really more of a neck support than a pillow. Hidden under the layers of fleece is a slightly springy support that sits up against your neck and holds your head in position. I wore this on a 11-hour flight, and I slept for hours, with none of the usual jerking awake as my head shifts position. Though most of the photos show it worn slightly to the side, I actually found it worked best for me with the rigid structure pulled further forward, almost tucked under my chin. I found that by doing this, I had none of the postflight neck pain that I've suffered in the past. I won't be flying without this now!