Choosing The Best Travel Blanket For Airplane Travel

Are you a snuggler? Do you like to burrow into your blanket the moment you’re settled on the plane but don’t like the scratch or smell or the blanket you’ve been given?

Your doubts are well placed. Unless you’re traveling in Business or First Class, there’s a chance that cool blanket has already been used by someone before getting to you.

Yes, if it it’s wrapped in plastic, it’s probably clean, but if not, there’s every chance it was calmly folded by a flight attendant after the last flight.

That’s not for me – and that’s when I started searching to find the best travel blanket for airplane travel.

best travel blanket for plane travel
The right travel blanket will make that long-haul flight bearable

Having a travel size blanket on hand is useful in a variety of scenarios, but especially on those budget flights where blankets and pillows are reserved for people “up front”.

If you’re considering one of these travel blankets for airplanes (I’ll tell you about the best below), this guide will help you choose. I’ll take you through everything you need to know, highlight the most important characteristics, and look at some of the most popular packable travel blanket options now on the market.

Why you should bring your own travel blanket for plane travel

You might be surprised at just how handy a small, lightweight travel blanket can be. Of course you can use your air travel blanket in flight, but a small travel blanket is good for plenty of other things, too. Like these:

  • As mentioned above, budget airlines don’t tend to hand them out, so the compact travel blanket you’ve slipped into your carryon will be ideal.
  • Even when an airline does provide one, it might not be as comfortable as you’d like. It’s nice to cuddle up to a soft travel blanket, one that’s familiar and that will provide comfort in the air.
  • And what about those times when air conditioning makes you so cold the airline blanket just isn’t enough? You’ll appreciate having an extra warm blanket with you.
  • A blanket will also be useful if you have delays or find yourself waiting around a drafty airport.
  • If you’re traveling overland by bus or train, a portable blanket will be great for those overnight journeys or if the air conditioning is too high.

The best compact travel blanket comparison chart

How to choose the best travel blanket for airplane travel

If you’re actually going to the trouble of lugging your own blanket with you, you might as well do some research and make sure it is the absolute best airplane blanket for you. (No, it doesn’t have to be the world’s best travel blanket for plane travel – it just needs to be perfect for YOUR needs.) So spending a bit of time thinking about your needs is time well spent.

Before you rush out and buy your travel throw blanket, consider these factors:

  • Size: Make sure your blanket isn’t cut too small. There’s nothing more unpleasant than constantly having to pull it up over your cold toes or your freezing shoulders. While you don’t want a mini travel blanket, you don’t need a super large travel blanket either. A good-sized blanket should cover both ends of your body comfortably, with a little extra to tuck under your feet.
  • Weight: You want a light travel blanket that won’t take up too much of your precious baggage allowance. These days that allowance is so slim you’ll even prevaricate about taking a toothbrush. The good news is that the new-generation blankets take weight into account, although the thinnest and lightest may not warm you as much.
  • Space: How much space does it occupy? The best compact travel blanket will only take up the tiniest portion of your packing space. If you open your carryon and half of it is a blanket, you’re not thinking this through. Your best bet if you’re traveling light is to have a blanket so slim it barely coats the bottom of your suitcase. Of course if you’re driving, just grab a big one and throw it in the trunk!
  • Packing: Do you roll or fold? Depending on how you pack, you may prefer a blanket you can do either with. All it takes is for a blanket to be just a smidge too large and you won’t be able to roll it up and take it with you without leaving most of your clothes at home… Look for a foldable travel blanket with pouch for easy packing.
  • Texture: What does it feel like? Is it incredibly soft and silky? Do you find yourself wanting to touch it all the time or is it so scratchy you can’t wait to fling it off? Some airplane blankets feel as though they were dragged through sand before being packed. On the other hand a soft and furry luxury travel blanket will help you fall asleep and carry you away.
  • Washing: If you’re traveling with it you need to be able to wash it – and dry it – easily. You won’t always have a washer or dryer at hand. Some blankets dry so slowly you’d have to lay them fully in the sun for at least a day before the water evaporates. If you’ve rented a house or an apartment with a balcony, you’re fine, but if you’re in a dorm or sharing a hotel room, think again.
  • Practical: Yes, blankets can be useful for other things too. They can have pockets, hoods, bags or matching pillows. You can wrap them around you like a sarong, or even use them as a towel in a pinch.
  • Style: Oh yes, of course it matters! An ugly blanket will do just fine but wouldn’t you rather have something sleek and elegant? Perhaps something that doesn’t look as though your dog just ran around the garden with it?

Ultimately, taking a travel blanket on your travels isn’t for everyone. I take one along if I’m taking a long-haul flight and plan to stay put for a week or two. It’s like a crocheted throw in your living room: not essential, but it sure is comforting.

Best airplane blanket options

Here are some of the best travel blankets – and most popular – on the market.

— Originally published on 05 May 2016


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