Designing the Guide of The Future (In Paper)

Over the past four years, I’ve been traveling extensively which has given me a greater understanding of our motivations, our pains and our aspirations when visiting cities. Each journey has been an experiment where I have played with variations of personalized city guides based on advance research. These city guides consisted of a very complete Google Map and later a printable PDF. My travels, which include more than 42 countries, have taught me that each city is completely different and very similar at the same time. Therefore every new map was similar to the previous but always incorporated a little innovation. The best photo spots, tips on how to sneak in, the secret or unusual.

Surprisingly, after years working on the digital side, I realized that paper was the best format to embrace our traveling experience. There’s something special in disconnecting from technology when we travel. Furthermore, many of us still rely on a big paper map to get across the city or even leave our phones at home to enjoy without distraction.

How to design a responsive city guide…in paper?

The challenge was to provide an adaptive and customized experience to each traveler using the guide. But even if each traveler wasn’t complex enough, we had to deal with the fact that each traveler could have different needs depending if he or she was traveling solo or in a group for example.

When you list the pains and address the challenges, magic starts to happen. It turns out that paper can be the best tool to provide all these features, be responsive and adapt to the needs of each traveler.

Last year a group of 1,000 travelers helped me create what we believe is the most powerful tool to craft your next big adventure.


Why is this paper guide so unique?

Architectour Guide will be soon be available via Kickstarter. But first, let me walk you through the design of a page. These are the main features of the guide, have a look.

1. No photographs, just sketches

Photographs can be quite disappointing and ruin our discovery experience.
Sketches provide sufficient information without spoiling our first impression of the site.

People see this on the guide…
But actually find this when they visit…


2. Short text that will arouse your curiosity

Text is meant to be read, that’s why we kept it short, less than 160 words to be precise. The text contains 3 interesting facts that will leave you hungry for more. Our target is that you actually visit the place some day. We believe that less is more.

3. Quick information for immediate needs

Did it ever happen to you that on a sunny day it suddenly started raining? Do you work long hours but you would still want to visit something when you finish? or maybe you just feel like secret spots today?

No problem, the side index is designed to quickly find right what you need


4. A useful map, on every page

If you travel quite often, you might have realized how annoying it’s to check the map, go back to the place, realize it’s closed. Go back to the map and check another site… and so on. The next day you just carry the typical city map, which is the only indispensable tool.

What if you had a map on every page that would make walking from site to site easy?


5. Pro tips

How should you be dressed when you want to sneak in? How can you get cheaper tickets?
Information only your closest friends will share with you.


6. A timeline, so you understand the context

It’s not enough to tell people that a building was innovative for the period. What happened? Why is it relevant? Why did it get built? Who promoted it?

A timeline provides context, helps us to appreciate the site and teaches us some history too.


7. And Recommendations no other guide will tell you

Where can I take the best picture? Sometimes it’s quite obvious but perhaps full of tourists blocking your perfect shot. Other times, there’s a hidden spot to get the perfect photo that only the pro’s know of. If you are a professional photographer, this feature will save you a lot of time. 

You will get a unique perspective that other visitors will often overlook. This shot of Parliament for example, is just like any other shot, but slightly different and more beautiful.

Once you’ve got the perfect snap, you might ask, what other places in the guide may I like too? maybe another building by the same architect? or a church in the same Gothic style? maybe something built in the same period? The options are multiple.

Want to get involved? Sign up to and I’ll provide further information.
If you also want to say hi or get a sample PDF, shoot me an email to

51 thoughts on “Designing the Guide of The Future (In Paper)

  1. Simply wonderful!! Congratulations for such high quality work – great design, useful and beautiful, easy to understand but complex inside. I look forward to the campaign and to see more of these marvellous guides and the bigger project itself!


    • Aaawww, thanks for your encouraging words and continuous support! Thanks for being one of those 1000 core travelers who made this dream come true.
      Te quiero ❤️


  2. Lovely guide.
    Smart, elegant, handy, attractive…
    Any discount when buying them in big numbers?
    Congrats Virginia.


    • Thanks for your kind words David! Yes, Kickstarter will have discounted option when buying them in big numbers 🙂
      3rd of May!


    • Muchas gracias!! Gran lanzamiento el día 3 de mayo. Si estás en Madrid el finde que viene me encantaría verte que bajo a preparar todo 😘😘


  3. Simply amazing Virginia.

    How to merge nice places, schedules and prices, interesting historic facts, useful maps, alternative plans, photography tips and handmade sketches all together in a portable and easy to find format?

    And here you are, you made it true and you taught us that innovation in paper tourist guides is really possible and could even create a new guide style. Congratulations for such a hard job for such a long time. I’m pretty sure we are all excited to see the final result in our hands.

    Best regards and again, CONGRATULATIONS!!!


    • Juanjo, thanks for these encouraging words and appreciating all the work behind this. I hope to see you at the launch party 🙂
      I couldn’t be more excited about it and I am really happy that you are part of it too!


  4. Great design and thoughtful insights on how to improve the travel experience in almost, if not all of its components. Cant wait to have one and experience travel in a whole new way!


  5. Absolutely great post Virginia!! Very useful information on bringing design concepts to life on paper. Most people keep forgetting what design really means! Thank you for sharing!! :*


    • Thanks Alex, coming from someone with as much expertise as yours can’t help to feel flattered 🙂 Thanks for being involved in its creation, much appreciated!


    • Belen, GRACIAS!! Deseando que llegue en el que brindemos y recordemos como esta guía se creo entremedias de prolongar el despertador por las mañanas y comer chocolate con sal antes de irnos a dormir :))


  6. Congratulations for your honest efforts. It’s an amazing output. I loved the draft. Really very nicely drafted with proper points and sub-points. Absolutely it is very useful to implement design concept on paper. I loved the concept of using your own sketches instead of photographs. (And you are a great sketcher) I can’t wait to own my personal copy now !
    Once again congrats !!
    Cheers !!! ❤️


    • Thanks Preeti, I couldn’t be more excited about the big launch and your words are so encouraging. They fuel my motivation. 3rd of May will be an epic day 🙂
      Thanks for being part of this dream! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a good collection of ideas. Wish I had one for London last year. Look forward to your guide book availability. Good work.


  8. Sorry, I arrived at this a bit late. But Virginia, this is fantastic. I love the idea and all the best. Has it been published already? I will definitely lay my hands on this. Such handy books are perfect for people who do not want to carry bulky, fat guides. The sketches too are gorgeous. I have a weakness for them.


    • Ohhh it’s been an exciting week. I launch the 3rd of May via Kickstarter and it’s been so much fun so far. I’ve been in my working cave (although in different countries hehe) for so long that finally showing this to the world feels amazing. Thanks for your encouraging words, I do believe this guide will make people love more their cities and can’t wait to continue the collection: Paris and New York would be next. I still remember the time I chose drawings would be better than photographs – I got so much criticism too. But now it seems like the key decision of the guide. So happy you liked them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Drawings carry that lovely personal feel to them. It is not just an impersonal camera doing the work. I say, go full on. I thought people love the personal touch more. I do. I shall look your books up 🙂 Working cave in various countries. Hmm now could that be a chore at all? 😉 All the best. May the books fly off the Kickstarter shelves! xx


        • That’s true, they are very personal – also my favorite part. As I said, being a nomad is half accidental heheh hate long distance relationships and my family is all spread around the world. But I’ve been working hard despite the moving here and there hehe (and recently eating better and working out more). Thanks for your continuous support Xx

          Liked by 1 person

        • You are welcome, Virginia. My pleasure. Long distance relationships are a bummer. They wreak havoc upon the head and heart, but on the other hand, you are gathering experiences you will treasure for life. Let’s drink to that xx

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Great job virginia, I cant really tell how many hours you have spent working and improving your dream and the results are there, this is a wonderful guide and Im pretty sure all the people will be able to see that excellent travel companion you have designed. With no doubts, the best guide I’ve seen so far. Keep pursuing the dream!!


    • Tanks Juan, these words are so encouraging. Thanks for having designed the concept and being part of this dream 🙂


  10. I personally love the passion of its author and the care for the smallest details which is already key to its success. Great job and keep going!!!


    • Thanks Andrea for being part of this madness! The following two weeks are going to be crazy. Keep calm…and carry on 😉


  11. Hello Virginia
    What an explicit work seriously! You are just wonderful in your work. Really an inspiration for me. From sketches to pro tips to a useful map on every page to short texts, everything is so thoughtful.
    I want to openly ask one thing. Can I be a part of your team? Since I am also an Architect, I can understand the context of the guides in the coming future. I can do with sketching and writing and mapping also.


  12. Pingback: La guía de viaje del futuro (en papel) | Kangapp

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