Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington
Although I see nothing wrong with checking a bag every so often, I’ve always viewed it as a personal goal to travel “carry-on only” when I fly. It started when I was a kid, flying on my airline pilot dad’s standby passes. My options then were to carry on my suitcase or risk having a bag end up in a city where I wasn’t. Although my standby status expired the second I married my military pilot husband, I still prefer carrying on, whether I’m flying for work (as a professional travel writer) or for pleasure (when my self-induced challenge intensifies as I pack carry-ons for my two kids as well).
I’ve learned all the packing hacks over the years; I can roll clothes and stuff socks in shoes with the best of them, and I’m a pro at clipping in extras — like mini coolers and water bottles — with my trusty carabiner collection. (Don’t even get me started on the viral TikTok pillowcase hack that helped us travelers carry more clothes on board.) This is exactly why I bought the Tube Travel Neck Pillow — the multi-use travel pillow you can store up to three days’ worth of clothing in — and wow, did it deliver. The pillow was so popular that it’s now sold out at Amazon, but the good news is that you can get the equally genius Dot & Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow to achieve the same hack.
To buy: amazon.com, $25 (originally $32)
Welcome to the sneaky carry-on storage solution that saves you checked bag fees. All you have to do is simply remove the foam insert from the removable cover and replace it with your clothing. Simple but effective, right?
Other neck pillows might be cushier, but they just can’t save you up to $70 worth of checked bag fees for each flight you take them on. I’ve also found it just depends on what you’re stuffing it with — the plusher the clothing (think: sweaters, down jackets) the more comfortable the neck pillow. However, you could also choose to care less about comfort and treat the Dot & Dot Twist Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow as your sole carry-on (especially when traveling on basic economy tickets since there’s no charge for a neck pillow … yet).
Depending on what you’re packing, one single tube can hold enough for three days of clothes. It’s lightweight enough to just toss into your suitcase as a “just-in-case” tool for any trip, like those times your suitcase gets too tight after a few souvenir purchases or as a way of keeping the essentials with you when forced to gate check on full flights.
Everything inside stays secured during travel, and there’s no Velcro in the design that would damage clothes. Once loaded, you can bend and twist the pillow into any shape and snap closed to securely fasten around your luggage handle, or just wear it around your neck en route to your flight.
To buy: amazon.com, $25 (originally $32)
As a mom, I use this sneaky packing trick for storing extra diapers, which, as any traveling parent knows, take up a ridiculous amount of space in a suitcase. I bought the Tube for its versatility as a packing tool and was convinced by its five-star ratings at Amazon for its comfort. Similarly, the Dot & Dot Memory Foam Travel Pillow has more than 8,200 five-star ratings at Amazon and plenty of praise from travelers, too.
One Amazon reviewer said they’re a carry-on only flier who used the packing hack, removing the Dot & Dot’s memory foam and “replacing [it] with clothes that I would pack anyway” — and they said it “worked like a charm.” But let’s not discount its comfort when used as a neck pillow with the memory foam inside, either. Another reviewer attested that on a 28-hour road trip, this comfortable pillow was “a life-saver” and the “best road trip pillow ever.” Imagine how comfy it would be stuffed with their favorite packable puffer or down jacket.
Trust me, the Dot & Dot Memory Foam Travel Pillow is the ultimate hack for anyone looking to maximize their carry-on potential … which is literally what I live for as a frequent traveler. Any time a product can serve two purposes, my ears perk up, and, thanks to this dual-purposed neck pillow, they now rest easily in flight as well.
At the time of publishing, the price started at $25.
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