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The pillow that will change your travel game

The elongated kidney bean-shaped inflatable cushion is unlike anything else on the market

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The Travelrest pillow is ideal for car rides (and flights too) because of its long bolster-like shape and the fact that it attaches to your headrest. One end of the pillow has an adjustable cord that can be looped around any size/shape of seat/headrest, to secure the pillow to your seat. The other end has an additional loop that can be attached to your seatbelt to anchor it further.

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The Travelrest when deflated can be folded up to a negligible size and attached to your luggage or hand-carry bag; it's wonderfully easy to inflate with just a few puffs and it also has a wonderful mechanism that lets the air out easily.

THIS month's featured product, with its somewhat unusual appearance, is something I've dreamt and hoped for years that someone would invent.

So, I cannot tell you how happy I was the day I found out that HiGear Design had read my mind. The American company's innovative Travelrest pillow has fulfilled all of my deepest travel-comfort desires.

The elongated kidney bean-shaped inflatable cushion is unlike anything else on the market. And its unique appearance (and attachments) is the reason travelling in comfort has been elevated to a whole new level for me.

I don't sleep easily or well in a moving aircraft or vehicle. Having two slipped discs adds back and neck pains to my travel routine. So, being able to rest in a relatively comfortable position on long journeys means a lot to me.

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In an attempt to achieve that, I have, over the years, tried a variety of cushions while travelling in the plane or car. I've bought many of the traditional U-shaped neck cushions: felt-covered inflatable ones, memory-foam versions, bean-filled versions; I've also tried rectangle-shaped cushions and square-shaped ones.

They all do the job to a degree; the neck cushions hold your head up so that it doesn't loll all over while you're asleep. However, they work much less well in a car than they do on a plane.

I take a lot of long car journeys, to visit my in-laws in Malaysia. And, depending on the design of your car seat, these neck cushions either have a place to lodge against, or not. In my case, it has more often been not. Which means I typically get little to no sleep in the car, and suffer nausea and headaches from resting my head against the juddering car door.

And so, I found myself longing, on many of these car journeys, for someone to come up with what is essentially the Travelrest pillow.

This pillow is ideal for car rides (and flights too) because of its long bolster-like shape and the fact that it attaches to your headrest. One end of the pillow has an adjustable cord that can be looped around any size/shape of seat/headrest, to secure the pillow to your seat. The other end has an additional loop that can be attached to your seatbelt to anchor it further.

I've found that these attachments allow the pillow to be used in more or less any situation. Whether in the car or plane, they anchor the pillow to the seat you're on, no matter the sort of seat or headrest. You can then either rest your head against the pillow, or rest your head and hug it like a bolster at the same time; the pillow does not shift or move, which really allows you to sink into a nice sleep.

And, if your seat lacks a headrest or any tall backing, the attachments on the Travelrest allow you to anchor the pillow to your own body. The pillow then stays put, and you can rest against it.

It was a total game-changer for me, and such an improvement from the traditional neck pillow, which goes around your neck/head but still needs a surface to rest against. Those neck pillows might work on seats that can recline backwards, but don't keep your head steady on upright seats.

The Travelrest pillow worked so well in my car that I was able to stay in a more or less stationary position no matter how much the car rocked and shook, and that made it possible to sleep without the usual resulting neckache/headache. I ended up getting a second Travelrest for my daughter, who typically has no problems sleeping on long car journeys, but who was envious of how comfortable I looked hugging mine.

Other things I loved about the Travelrest: when deflated, it can be folded up to a negligible size and attached to your luggage or hand-carry bag; it's wonderfully easy to inflate with just a few puffs (far fewer that what I have had to use on some of my neck pillows), and it also has a wonderful mechanism that lets the air out easily, should you need to adjust the level of inflation or deflate it when you're done with the pillow.

The Travelrest comes in two finishes. The first is the standard version (US$29.95) in a sort of faux velvet finish with a choice of four colours. That was the one I bought when I first wanted to try it out.

The company then kindly offered to send me its luxury version when it heard I was intending to review the pillow in this column. The All-in-One Ultimate Travel Pillow (US$44.95) comes with a luxurious velour cover and memory foam inserts on which you can rest your head. And I have to tell you: shell out for this version. It is so plush that it helps you to forget that you're sitting in a cramped airplane or car seat. It is totally worth the extra expense.

For those who already have the standard Travelrest pillow, you can up the comfort factor by just getting the company's Luxurious Pillow Cover with Memory Foam (US$18.95). This soft and washable micro-fleece pillowcase slips over your existing pillow without adding much bulk.

If you're interested in getting one, Travelrest (www.travelrest.net) ships internationally. You can also get the pillow from Amazon (www.amazon.com).