A Familiar Place

“Familiar Place” is a mobile app designed to share “off the beaten path” places. The goal is to provide visitors of a new place with a unique experience, different from the ordinary touristic routes, and touristic activities. To see places one would otherwise miss, through the ones who know it best, and to interact with different people, culture and cuisine. Very important as well is to empower locals by making money on their own schedule, and/or promote their own local business and their community.

How it Works

It works as a tool mainly written by locals of any specific place in the world, to share places, activities and events that aren’t targeted to tourists, but can also be interesting and lots of fun. It connects visitors with locals, through paid service meetings and/or hosted meals. Scheduling with a “Local Guide” or a “Local Host” are features offered by the app, as well as a safe payment platform, and a chat for Locals and Visitors to exchange information. There is a user review feature, to ensure safety, where visitors and locals can report any incidents, and/or scams. For safety reasons, every interaction is recommended to be done within the app through the offered scheduling, payment and chat features, as that is the only way “Familiar Place” as a facilitator can intervene. Users are also encouraged to share their experiences and add information about the places they have visited to create an even stronger and safer tool.


The goal was to create a user friendly, easy to understand platform, which is simple and straight to the point. The piece is a semi-functional prototype of how “Familiar Place” could look like, and a simulation of how it would be interacted with, from the perspective of the traveler, as well as the locals’.


Design exists to facilitate people’s wishes and needs, and to create a fun and safe environment for human interaction. During my stay in Quepos – Costa Rica, and my visits to El Cocal, something that really captivated me was how unique that place was, and how not many people outside of the community in El Cocal ever get to see it. I connected it back to my own home town in Portugal and all of the places, activities and events there is that only I and the locals there know of. During many interviews conducted through the course requirements to the locals, consistently the desire to share El Cocal with visitors was expressed strongly. I can think of many places in Portugal that have become touristic hotspots and how they have started to mold to the way of life of the visitors, and I was able to catch that in some of the places I visited in Costa Rica as well. Something that influenced this piece was the moments spent eating good food at Aneyda’s house (a local host that partnered with GVI), getting to know her grandkids, experiencing a local event, the Kite festival, and of course the breath taking beach which is always a few steps away. This is a piece that wishes to share the authenticity of places, and share honest experiences of living.

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