Eric Stoen is one of the worlds leading travel influencers focusing on family travel at Travelbabbo.com. He has visited more than 90 countries and been to all seven continents.
What are three of your favourite countries, and why?
Italy is my favourite country. I studied there in college and have been back roughly 40 times since. Florence is absolutely amazing. We love the Dolomites for the scenery and the food. Venice and Rome are both magical before the day-trippers arrive and after they leave. I hiked 100km across Tuscany on the Via Francigena, stayed at pilgrim hostels, and loved every step. Emilia Romagna is wonderful. I could list two dozen places I love, and I want to explore so much more.
Greece, and especially the islands, are amazing in summer. There’s nothing like basing out of an island town for several weeks and just enjoying the atmosphere and the food. The islands are also kid-friendly – we’ve let our kids explore without us from fairly young ages and never worried about them.
And we love Japan. It doesn’t cater to English speakers, so it still feels foreign. The culture is wonderful, the nature is stunning, the food is incredible, and the cities are so fun to explore. Plus, there’s anime everywhere, so my kids love it!
Are there any countries you don’t like visiting?
Travelling almost anywhere is better than not travelling! But a lot of Europe doesn’t excite me anymore.
What are three of your favourite cities, and why?
Florence, with all the culture, art, architecture and food you could want in a walkable historic centre.
Tokyo, for the temples, the parks, the food and TeamLab Borderless. No matter how long we stay, we always have a long list of places we wanted to visit that we never made it to. It’s so fun to take the train to a new area of town and just wander.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The best food in the world, plus exploring the city centre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), never gets old.
What are three of the worst places you’ve stayed?
I’ve had absolutely no bad stays – no horror stories at all! From sheep farms in Greenland to hostels throughout Europe to tiny private houses in rural China to treehouses in Zimbabwe to a forest hut in Sweden I’ve enjoyed everywhere I’ve slept.
Do you have any favourite hotels or restaurants?
Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives is our favourite resort anywhere. The overwater villas are amazing, and we love exploring the island on bike. The Park Hyatt Tokyo is straight out of Lost in Translation. Best service in the world. The Peninsula Bangkok is always wonderful – especially the view, the pool and the breakfast.
I practically grew up at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and always love returning. A perfect resort in a gorgeous setting. The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore is iconic – the city’s former post office. Always a special place to return to. In Venice we love Hotel Al Ponte Antico. It has a perfect setting on the Grand Canal, and we could talk to the owner and staff there for hours. Truly special.
Our favorite restaurant is Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna in Oia, Santorini. We’ve stopped by often over the years – usually visiting Santorini only to have lunch there! Everything is excellent, but we usually start with the grouper and tomato fritters – and then move on to a dozen other dishes!
What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?
Friend’s birthday party in Lithuania
I attended a friend’s birthday party in the middle of a Lithuanian mushroom forest. I felt so privileged to be included in everything, including singing traditional songs and getting covered with honey in the sauna. One of my favourite trips ever.
E-bikes in the Dolomites
Three summers ago, as a family, we rode e-bikes through Val di Fiemme in the Dolomites and had lunch at Ristorante Miola up in the mountains. One of our best meals in all of our travels and such a fun day.
Fishing in Greenland
My son and I met up with friends in the village of Igaliku, Greenland, for a day. We borrowed ATVs and fishing gear from a local family and drove to another part of the island to fish. My son had never fished before and caught two arctic char – one of which was given to a village family and one that became our dinner. Everything about the day was amazing – including seeing icebergs floating past as we were fishing.
What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?
After a year of studying abroad and collecting a lot of very cool posters, I left the poster tube on the airplane after arriving at JFK and never got it back. It still bothers me 30 years later.
Mileage run regrets
I was doing a mileage run from LA to Dubai when I turned on my cell phone after landing only to learn that my daughter had just suffered a skull fracture (from jumping on a bed and falling off). I quickly changed my ticket and returned home, but still, think about whether she would have fractured her skull if I had been there instead of travelling for the silliest reason imaginable.
For those of you that don’t know, a mileage run is something travellers can do to rank up a lot of air miles, usually to earn or maintain elite status with an airline.
Feel off a camel in Qatar
I fell off a camel in Qatar – the girth came undone, and I slid off with the saddle and everything else. I landed on my right leg and walked with a limp for months. Note to everyone out there: check your camel’s girth before getting on!
What are three of your best travel tips?
Always have airport transportation waiting for you
It’s worth a little extra to not have to worry about finding an airport ATM, being scammed or getting lost somewhere when you arrive in a foreign city tired after a long flight.
Travel with multiple ATM cards linked to different bank accounts
There are still many destinations where cash is used for most transactions, and you don’t want to be stuck without a way to get funds if you lose a card or if there’s fraud and an account is temporarily closed.
Pack blue painters tape
We use it for everything – taping shut toiletries and sunscreen, packing things, labelling cups and water bottles, crafts, quick repairs, and so much more.