Idan Cohen on 3 Reasons to Travel Somewhere New

In Chapter 7 of 19 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, Boxee co-founder and head of product Idan Cohen answers "What Have You Found Most Rewarding About Traveling to New Places?"  Cohen first notes the importance of overcoming fear and acclimating to and learning to appreciate a new place.  Secondly, he notes the reward that exploring a new place or city presents and finding the expected as well as the unexpected, in particular local secrets.  Thirdly, he finds fulfillment meeting new people along the journey. 

This is Idan Cohen's Year 1 Capture Your Flag interview.  Cohen is co-founder and head of product at Boxee Inc, an online video software company.  Previous to Boxee, Cohen held telecom software innovation and developer roles at Comverse.  He was a Captain in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and graduated from Tel Aviv University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Geophysics and Art.


Erik Michielsen: What have you found most rewarding about traveling to new places?

Idan Cohen: I think that it’s composed of 3 things. 

So first of all, overcoming fears, a lot of times when I get to new places, I don’t like investing in research before I go there. I kind of really like discovering by myself. But it always brings some kind of an uncertainty when you get there. Like I remember when I visited New York for the first time, I was terrified. I came back—actually I was there for 2 weeks for the first time I was there, when I was 18. And I came back and I said, I don’t like that city. I just—It’s too big. It’s too noisy. It’s too busy. I was afraid. Like I got there, it was the mid-‘90s. People told me, put your wallet in front pocket, you don’t—you don’t wanna be careful from this area, you wanna be careful from that area. And then, you know, few years later, I was there again, and again, and again, and again, and I just fell in love. And I’ve seen that happen in a lot of other places. I just get there and I have this fear, because I don’t know enough. But then as you get comfortable, that fear goes away. 

A second part is actually the part of exploring. So not researching before, just being able to walk in the streets and find it by yourself. And every time I find that I actually probably once I’ve been to a new place, and then I talk to other people maybe then I see that I’ve found—probably half of the things that I’ve found are the most common probably, you know, run of like exactly what you were supposed to find as someone, a tourist or someone visiting a new place. But then the other half is just things that I stumbled upon. Which are these little secrets of the locals, which I think that a lot of times when you do research before you won’t find. 

And then the third part is obviously socially just meeting new people wherever you are, just interacting with the waiter in the restaurant, you know, with the barman, bartender, with the guy on the street that helps you find something. That’s the most interesting part.