Up at Night, Sleepy All Day? This Clever Travel App Syncs to Your Jetlag

Isobar France's upside down city guide to Tokyo

Every city guide in the world assumes the same thing about the reader—that you're wide awake during the day, and sleeping like a baby at night. But what if you've just arrived from thousands of miles away and are jetlagged as hell? 

For Flying Blue, the loyalty program of airline Air France-KLM, Isobar Paris had the clever idea of creating city guides exclusively designed for jetlagged travelers. 

A new app, launching this month with a test run in Tokyo, is called Jetlag Social Club. Isobar worked with Time Out Tokyo to find more than 130 different activities that will be perfect for travelers from Europe who are wide awake in the middle of the night, or drifting off to sleep in the middle of the day. 

Here's an online film introducing the idea: 

"We all experience it in long-flight travel. You fly to Tokyo and for the first two or three days, you are totally jetlagged," Isobar Paris creative director Marc Badinand tells Muse. "You wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning. And what do you do? You watch TV until 6 or 7, when you can go out." 

He adds: "You can't fight your jetlag. You can't beat it. But what can you do? You can play with it. This app will sync to your body and push you to experiences and activities according to your jetlag." 

For example, at 3 a.m., the app will tell you what's open—museums, late-night eateries, batting cages on a rooftop near your hotel. And in the late morning, when it's still nighttime at home, it will suggest a nap on the looping Metro, or at a capsule hotel or library. 

Swipe through some of the app's screens here: 

"We really want to start a conversation around jetlag. There are lots of conversations about it online, but no one has taken that conversation and made it their own," says Isobar Paris managing director Cécile Bitoun. "As the loyalty program, we really try to find the pain points. Traveling is about joy, but there are also a lot of pain points. We try to be the traveler's companion, and that includes talking about jetlag." 

Tokyo was the natural test market for Jetlag Social Club, given that it's seven hours ahead of Paris and already a kind of jetlag symbol, thanks to the movie Lost in Translation. But the hope is to create guides for other cities—probably Los Angeles first, which is nine hours behind Paris. There may even be guides for people departing from places besides Europe, like the U.S. 

"The goal is to make it a long-term service and not just a one-shot communication," says Badinand. 

"Right now, at this very moment, there are 1.2 million people suffering from jetlag," he adds. "This is about having a worldwide perspective. Creatively, it's a goldmine. And we like the simplicity of the idea." 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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