I spent 2 weeks traveling Europe by bus and this hooded neck pillow was a lifesaver for helping me get enough sleep
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- Napping on long bus and plane rides is difficult if your neck and head aren't adequately supported. Even a traditional travel pillow might not be enough to create an optimal sleeping experience.
- By attaching a soft hood to the pillow, the Grand Trunk Hooded Travel Pillow ($29.95) blocks out another big culprit of disrupted sleep: light.
- This comfortable combination allowed me to sleep better, which, in turn, made traveling more enjoyable.
For all its delights, traveling is not always a relaxing endeavor. Behind every photo of you, smile plastered on your face, body posed in front of a gorgeous landscape, is really a sleep-deprived plane or bus passenger yearning for a neck massage.
I'm one of the many people still struggling to master the art of sleeping on long-distance trips. When I learned I would be taking a two-week bus tour through Europe with my family, I was obviously excited, but also nervous. 14 consecutive days of waking up early and settling into multiple-hour bus rides did not sound easy, and I didn't want to let grogginess, grumpiness, or pain affect my enjoyment of each destination.
Before I got on my plane to Europe, I picked up a travel pillow, the Grand Trunk Hooded Travel Pillow ($29.95), which had just been lying around our office. I'm so grateful I did because - just let me be a little dramatic here - I wouldn't have survived the trip without it.
Read more: The best travel pillows you can buy
The biggest concern most people have while traveling upright is keeping their head supported as they sleep. A standard travel pillow (or a not-so-standard one) should prevent their head from lolling back and forth and the dreaded sore neck feeling.
However, light and sound can be just as disruptive as lack of head, neck, and chin support. While I don't require pitch-black darkness or complete silence to fall asleep, I am still somewhat sensitive to light and sound. The darker and more quiet my surroundings are, the better I'll fare.
That's why the Grand Trunk Hooded Travel Pillow is such a genius design. It's a travel pillow with an attached hood that can go over your eyes - and this simple addition has made all the difference.
The soft, micro-fleece covered pillow is made from memory foam and offers mid-level support: neither stiff nor fluffy, with some give and bounce. My head settled comfortably onto the sides and back of the pillow, and with that, phase one of Operation Restful Sleep was complete.
Phase two kicked into gear whenever sunlight streamed in from the bus window to hit me directly in the eyes, or when I couldn't stop noticing that the overhead compartment lights in the airplane were pretty bright. All I had to do was pull the pillow's hood (also made from soft micro-fleece) over my head and eyes to block out these annoyances.
I prefer this oversized hood to a sleep mask because masks are often too tight and press down uncomfortably over my eyes. Sleep masks solve the light problem, but often sacrifice comfort. The pillow's hood, on the other hand, rested lightly over the top half of my face while successfully blocking out light. You can leave it loosely draped over your face, or tighten the drawstring cords to further shut out the world. The hood by itself won't drown out noise, but it's a great additional layer over a pair of earbuds.
An underrated but enjoyable benefit I also discovered from sleeping with this hooded travel pillow is how secure it made me feel. It's kind of like snuggling under your blankets in bed, and this comforting feeling no doubt contributed to better sleep, too.
With my head properly supported and eyes undisturbed by light, I slept deeper and stayed asleep for longer every time I settled back into my bus seat. That meant more energy to enjoy each city and photos where I really was as lively and happy as I looked.
Shop the Grand Trunk Hooded Travel Pillow for $29.95 at Amazon (3 colors available)
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