How not to ruin your vacations

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

How not to ruin your vacation


Traveling comfortably seems to have become some kind of impossible dream. Our seats on planes, trains or buses are always more narrow, thus they aren’t the best place where we can rest before to properly start our holiday. Maintaining a poor posture for many hours, as it happens in case of a long flight, can cause muscle contraction or pain: the fastest way to ruin your vacations.
A few years ago, for example, while I was flying to Ireland, as usual completely focussed on my Kindle, I didn’t realize I was bending my head at a weird angle. Back then, I hadn’t fully understood the importance of a travel pillow, and I thought it was yet another fancy accessory I didn’t need. The very cold cabin air, sworn enemy of every traveler out there (always bring a sweatshirt or a long-sleeved shirt, even in summer!) did the rest. In the evening I barely managed to get to our bed and breakfast: I desperately needed to lay down. My neck and shoulder were in pain. I couldn’t even lift myself up: every movement caused a stab of pain that made my toes curl. I remember thinking that somehow I’d managed to mess up. It’s really that easy to ruin your vacations.
An Irish doctor explained to us that contractions caused by the cold and by a wrong posture might last also for a few days. In that specific case, it took me a couple of days to get out of the bed. Yet for the rest of our trip I still felt the occasional stab of pain while getting dressed. We never really think about it, but we always move the muscles of our neck. It’s so natural that we don’t even realize it. Spending half of your vacation in pain isn’t exactly what one is hoping for, after waiting so long for it. What if you finally managed to book that romantic trip to Italy to propose and you can’t get out of your bed?



How not to ruin your vacations


Since then, I have started to pay much more attention to my posture and my neck. I realized that neck and shoulders are our weak points. They can ruin your vacations also on short journeys: even air-conditioned fast trains can cause as much damage as pressurized cabin air on a plane.
That’s the reason why, when I received a press release informing me of the start of a crowfunding campaign for an innovative travel pillow, I immediately checked it out.
My first reaction to seeing the big hands of the MonPère pillow was, however, quite puzzled. It felt like a joke: why did they choose such a bizarre shape?
After the initial shock, I read that the man who invented this new kind of travel pillow, Sylvain Bérubé, is a massage therapist and kinesiotherapist from Montreal. Passionate about long trips, especially in unseen Countries, he realized the struggle of sleeping comfortably without causing damage to your neck or spine only thanks to his little daughter, Raphaëlle. During a road trip to Hawaii, in fact, the kid often slept in uncomfortable positions, waking up in pain. Sylvain then did what every dad would’ve done: he tried to find a way help Raphaëlle and every other travel lover. It took him four years of hard work and tests to perfect what he refers to as a “sleeping tool“. So I thought that this particular shape had been chosen to appeal to a younger audience.



How not to ruin your vacations



Yet the particular shape of this travel pillow is its greatest strength. It features two large hands that wrap around you and offer support. They use the natural pressure points of our body to create resistance, making you sleep comfortably so that you can rest (for real) wherever you are. The linear shape and the fingers of MonPère fit any sleeping position and support the head by using a few anchor points. You can wrap a MonPère hand around the body or the back of your seat, and use the other one to make sure that when you fall asleep you won’t bend your head. Or you can use the aircraft folding table to sleep bent forward, still keeping your head in it’s axis. Your neck won’t be able to ruin your vacations anymore.

The pleasant surprise with MonPère for me is the fact that its cushy cotton padding is completely removable. As far as I’ve seen, there aren’t many travel pillow manufacturers who worry about the germs their products collect. We carry our pillows all around the world and it’s not always possible to wash them when we get home. Which is pretty gross, if you think about it. MonPère, on the other hand, has proven to be very practical: you can just unzip the sleeve to remove the silicon interior and throw the fabric in the washing machine.

After a series of positive reviews on his project, Sylvain decided to launch a MonPère campaign on Kickstarter. In the first 24 hours since the opening of this crowfunding campaign, the first pillows (offered with a generous discount) were sold out: backers funded over 3000$ as soon as the campaign went live.

I admit that although there are so many projects that I like on Kickstarter, it’s not a platform I use often for so many reasons. Shipping expenses to Italy are insanely pricey, just to begin with.
There have been only two projects that I felt like backing without hesitating. The first edition of the official Ghostbusters board game (nerd and proud!)… and MonPère. Sylvain reached out to ask me to inform my readers of the crowdfunding campaign. Yet aside from his request, I decided to put my own effort into this: I very much like this travel pillow.

I travel a lot, and I have an already damaged neck due to having bent my head down on my writing desk for years while studying for my University exams. For this reason it’s not that uncommon for me to suffer from intense neck pain. After spending months in planning and dreaming about my trip, I absolutely have no intention to ruin it because of my medical conditions. After so many years I’ve learned my lesson: I’m never traveling without a good sleeping pillow again!

Check out the Kickastarter campaign to make sure not to ruin your vacations!


Note: This post was sponsored by the MonPère company and contains Amazon affiliate links. The opinions expressed here are completely my own and don’t necessarily match theirs.


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How not to ruin your vacations



  1. melody pittman

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who freezes on every flight! I’ve seen a few people with these pillows lately. They look so comfy and easy to use. I will need to get me one for my next long flight.

  2. Punita Malhotra

    I am usually very uncomfortable while sleeping on flights because of the tight space. So this pillow can certainly help in adding to the comfort factor. Though my biggest problem is not being able to stretch my legs while I sleep. No remedies for that 🙂

  3. Vicki Louise

    What an interesting travel pillow device! I love the look of it – I mean who doesn’t want soft hands cupping and supporting their head whilst they sleep?! But that would also be my biggest concern too in that it looks bulky and awkward to carry. I’d love to try it out tho!

  4. Sandy N Vyjay

    In long-haul flights, you usually end up changing positions in an effort to get it right and comfortable and get some sleep. This pillow looks really unique. The shape seems to be designed keeping in mind the best of ergonomics. Hope to give it a try and get some sleep on my next flight.

  5. Himanshu

    Your post article was too good to miss. I agree, in today’s fast paced life, we always give less importance to comfort. Feel so bad for you that you had such a bad experience. After so many mistakes, I too learned the importance of travel pillow and now it is my constant companion to everywhere. Yes, I must carry it to trains also. Thanks for this post.

    1. Thank you Himanshu, I’m very glad you liked the article! And I’m sure you’ll find the MonPere quite comfortable too. If you’re an expert like me at muscle aches and travel pillows, then you’ll recognize immediately what takes it apart from its competitors!

  6. Suruchi

    I have never heard about Montere pillow before but it is really impressive. I like it bizzare shape as well as the functions its long hands are offering. Neck and back are really important and should be well cared out. Once you get a muscle ache it takes long for one to recover. Would love to check it for myself. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Kavita Favelle | Kavey Eats

    Such an intriguing shape, but the way you describe it makes total sense. I suffer a lot from both tension headaches and migraines, both of which can and often are triggered by neck and shoulder pain, so I have to be very careful about sleeping or sitting in poor positions when travelling. Will check out this product!

    1. I feel your pain! I have the same exact problems, so I have to be extra careful, it’s not fun when you have to stay in bed during a trip because you have dozed off in a weird position! 🙁 I hope the MonPère will be useful to you too!

  8. Carol Perehudoff

    It’s an interesting concept. I’ve always avoided travel pillows, especially those uncomfortable ones around the neck, but this looks like it might work. Something’s got to improve these flights.

  9. Paige

    I’ve never heard of the Mon Pere travel pillow! I actually never have used a travel pillow, but a lot of times my neck hurts at the end of longer travel days! I really love that you can wash the outer fabric!

  10. Lois Alter Mark

    Wow, this sounds really helpful and I’d love to try it. I travel a lot and often find my neck hurting by the end of a long flight. It’s really hard to find a good pillow but I’m going to look into this one.

  11. Drew

    I’ve never really considered a travel pillow, mostly due to the fact that many of them are so large and I am a packing minimalist. I do like the design though, and the washable cover is a smart (and logical?) idea. Of course, I slept in a weird position on one of my last long-haul flights a few weeks ago, and have had some muscle pain since. Maybe I should invest in a travel pillow finally!

    1. As much as I thought a washable cover like a smart idea, I’ve noticed that it’s a feature almost never implemented it! And I’m very sorry for your muscle pain, I hope you’re feeling a bit better now! Maybe it’s indeed time to invest in a travel pillow!

  12. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    We pack our own pillows travelling and they definitely helps. I could see how this would be the perfect thing for long trips. I especially like how it’s germ resistant. I hate to thing about those things, but denial isn’t going to help.

  13. Sreekar

    The post title caught my eye. These sure are apt tips to save your vacation! I have cervical spondylosis and it hurts sometimes on long flights. I do use a neck pillow and it does help!

  14. Alina

    I had not heard of this before! I have been thinking about travel pillow for a while now. I don’t know, if it’s the age or what is the deal, but I used to fly in high heel boots and tight pants, thought eye masks and ear plugs are for softies and didn’t have any problems. 10 years later I barely wear any heels at all, always pack a mask and ear plugs and I am seriously considering getting a pillow for travelling 🙂

  15. Andi

    Those airplanes can really ruin a trip if you aren’t comfortable! I love the idea that the Mon Pere pillow is washable, anything it touches in the plane will be gross! Thanks for bringing the brand to my attention!

  16. sherianne

    What an interesting design, amazes me how creative people can become to solve a problem and attempting to sleep on a plane is a HUGE problem. Thank you for sharing this, checking it out right now!

  17. Elaine

    I have never heard of Mon Pere pillow. Neck and back pain have hampered my travel in the past and I have tried multiple travel pillows, without much success. It is a strange looking device! How easy is it to pack?

    1. They’re new, just launched on Kickstarter! As for packing, you can bend them so like any other travel pillow you can just tie it to your backpack on a plane. In some pictures I’ve seen it bent it on someone’s shoulder like a bag. I don’t think it’s much more different from many other travel pillows!

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