The wheelchair travel gods may have finally heeded the prayers of all the wheelchair travelers frustrated by the difficulty of hauling their luggage while on the road. Meet the Phoenix Instinct travel luggage — a slick looking, two-bag set of luggage specifically designed to hitch to the back of your wheelchair to help make traveling easier.
Designer Andrew Slorance, who also designed the Carbon Black wheelchair, has used a manual chair for 34 years and got the idea years ago when he got tired of lugging heavy equipment for a job as a video editor. When he interviewed wheelchair users, he was shocked to find that 75 percent said the difficulty of lugging their bags dissuaded them from traveling alone. He could relate.
“I know how difficult it is, not just to move your stuff, but to lose your independence and be sitting struggling at the car rental, trying to get your luggage from there to the transfer bus and into the terminal,” he says. “It’s not very doable.”
He originally designed a trolley that he could pull behind his chair, but has since dramatically improved the product. The new model, which is now available in a limited-time Kickstarter, uses omnidirectional wheels and a custom-designed hitch that allows you to click the bag onto the back of your chair. The combination keeps the bags aligned whether you go up a curb, over bumps or in reverse. That means less resistance and easier pushing. Right now, the product only connects to chairs with a bar on the back, but Slorance is working on adaptations for folding chairs and power chairs.
He says he was caught a little off guard by the viral response to the first video he posted on Facebook showing the product in action. Within four weeks the video had been watched almost 200,000 times.
“I thought, OK wow, this is something that really means something to people,” he says. “It’s a much bigger problem than I anticipated.”