Mobility Design Project

Hi !

I am a product design student and I am currently starting a project to help improve mobility for elderly people, developing a special luggage.

Not everybody with this condition is over 60, I know that, but actually I want some help to see what problems people with those conditions have with their luggage while travelling, it would be really helpful for me!

I would be really happy if you could tell me your problems related to travelling and your luggage (packing, carrying it, how do you get to the airport and all that).

Thank you so much!

12 Replies

  • Just a comment about the word "Elderly". I hate it. I'm 69 but not "elderly". I know strictly speaking it does mean someone of the older generation, but in my mind it's equivalent to "senile".

    As for your query I have PMR, Asthma, paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and, currently a 5" x 2.5" wound on my lower leg, but have no long-term mobility problems. The medication works most of the time. I have a fear of flying, so travel by car, train, and /or ferry (not enough legroom in coaches). Wheels of suitcases are a Godsend.

  • Hi I too really think you need to change that to adults with mobility issues/challenges. I'm 51, just diagnosed with PMR and think you'll miss a whole host of possible clients using the term 'elderly'. I love to travel and would love to have a really good rolling case; my big complaint is wheels are often cheap and zip is first thing to go on (any) case! Good luck with your project!

  • When you have stiff thumbs and first fingers your fine motor skills are quashed; so no fiddly zips and poppers. Try it with your own hands by wearing mittens! Can't wait to see your finished design and thanks for helping 😉

  • Hi there,

    Would agree with previous responses - drop the elderly tag!

    On a more serious note, wheels need to be robust, and four not two. Case needs to be as lightweight as possible, but obviously strong enough to withstand the ill-treatment it gets! Zips need to be good quality preferably with integrated locking mechanism. Would be useful if hand luggage could be attached temporarily, but safely to the handle so all your luggage is on one side, so other hand is free. And if you make it distinctive with colour or pattern it's easier to spot on the carousel!

    I travel alone, and always get somebody to drop me at airport. I don't use trains or coaches because I drive. Because my main problem is an osteoarthritic knee, I cannot walk too far too quickly so I always get assistance at larger airports, my local small one is ok. So sometimes I have to get to baggage drop off unaided, hence the wheels, plus if a wheelchair is provided then your assistant can push you and pull your case! Actually air travel is relatively easy, apart from lifting bags into the overhead lockers, but that's another story.

    Hopefully you will get more comments re train/coach.

  • Definitely drop the elderly tag...its horrible.... ;)

    We bought decent lightweight four wheel luggage and that is just fine... In fact I put my walking aid on top of the case and use the case for support. I never have to lift the case so it is not an issue for me.

    Reaching the zippers is the main issue when packing .

    Would be really interested to see what you come up with and would be equally interested on the proposed retail cost of your end design. ...because obviously to be useful to the target market it has to be affordable.

    Good luck!

  • My dream suitcase is one with 2 sections that clip or zip together so that the upper section can be removed and used as hand luggage (so within the smallest size accepted by el-cheapo airlines and with a retractable/removable shoulder strap) while the other piece is sent as checked luggage and then before check-in and on arrival the two are firmly held together so the wheels work for moving both without the upper one falling off at the drop of a hat. It should be possible to open that upper unit from above. Expandable is also good - then you can use it for short and longer trips without needing the ubiquitous set of 3 that is a pain to store.

    Being able to PUSH the unit might be helpful - dragging trolleys/cases is bad for already delicate shoulders and the wheels are REALLY important - rough surfaces with the tiny wheels are a nightmare when you struggle to lift the case.

    Fastenings shouldn't be fiddly or hard to operate - and need to be decently robust.

    On the upper section, an easy to access outer pocket that isn't too tight to get a hand into would be nice for getting at travel documents one would keep in the hand luggage section and a space to hold medications would be a real bonus.

    I travel by car most of the time so can't comment on public transport but I do note that taxi drivers these days don't see it as part of their job to load passengers' luggage into the boot. Not that you can do much about that. The biggest problem I have with the PMR is managing the 2 bits of luggage that you cannot tie together and release quickly and efficiently. Anything that requires fine adjustment or strength is a problem.

    Do, by the way, feel you can ask further questions - speaking for myself I'll happily discuss this in private messages/email. I'm sure others would feel the same.

    Oooh - and how about a GPS chip so you know it is on its way - or, when the airline (or Schipol airport) has mislaid it you can find where it is...

  • Hi, I think a case that has an easily access able point for medications would be handy. On zips Kipling bags tend to come with a good range of zip pulls that aren't so large they get caught by luggage handling and wrecked . Good handles are vital to help you lift the bag e.g. Into the boot of a car. I too think it's a question of better design for everyone . The fit and able don't enjoy carrying bags and buy ones with wheels too.

    If a bag were mass produced it would be much more affordable and stocked widely. I am a bit cynical about some disability products that seem very expensive for what they are, also not everyone wants to advertise their problem.

    Good luck with your project, given an increasingly aged population you could have a winner if you manage to design the perfect bag.

  • I have to use crutches, so any kind of luggage is a nightmare. I usually end up with a small rucksack, which isn't ideal when needing to get tickets, passports etc. Usual mode of transport to airports etc is with the help of my OH. However I am soon going to Switzerland on my own should be interesting !

  • Not to Dignitas I hope!

    Ask for assistance at the airports - it is wonderful and gives you loads of time to find tickets passports and so on. What about one of those "hang round your neck passport-sized security pockets"? That won't count as a second piece of hand luggage!

  • Anything that would help to get a case into and out of overhead luggage racks on European trains, perhaps some sort of pull out handle or lever to balance the case while still on the rack would help. I have arthritic fingers which won't take much weight so need something which would steady the weight. Other passengers are often very helpful but we who do not want to be called elderly would welcome anything to maintain our independence.

  • At 5 foot and a sneeze I can't reach overhead lockers - never mind what weight anything is! I fluttered the eyelashes at anyone passing even at 20...

  • I look for very lightweight yet very *strong* luggage, since I need to keep it light. Most very lightweight pieces are also quite flimsy and tend to fall apart while I'm on the road!

    Quality, lightweight, rugged, smooth rolling action, sturdy zippers/pockets w/ larger pulls.

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