Traveling with a friend good at snuggling can make most of us happier campers.

Make that friend a smiling plush companion that morphs from a toy into a pillow, and you've got kid pleasing — and placating — all sewn up.

Pillow Pets are plump chenille stuffed animals (also some really cute cars) that widen and flatten into a pillow with the release of a cinch strap. Great for car or plane travel or bedding down anywhere in the world, these softies range from well-known cartoon characters to cuddly creatures with no particular pedigree.

Sizes vary, with most 12- to 16-inches square when fully open.  All are sturdy, crushable and machine washable.

Consider them adorable allies in taking along little ones. I'm partial to the spotted dalmatian puppy with the firefighter hat and jacket.

The neon red race car with its big bright eyes and toothy smile is no slouch either.

Pillow Pets even come as apparel.  Who wouldn't want to be swathed in a Panda-head hoodie, with its soulful black eyes, button nose and perky ears perched on your head or dangling down your back? Bunch up the whole outfit for a cushy cushion, or use just the hood part as a pillow and wrap the rest of the zippered sweatshirt around your little trooper for an extra warm hug — with pockets.

Pillow Pets run about $20 to $25; animal-head hoodies are about $20; at