Activities Abroad banner

family activity & adventure holiday guide

Family Boating Holiday Guide


About Boating Holidays - Holiday Companies
Family Boating Holidays

Boating holidays offer you the chance to take life at a slower pace. You can choose to explore beautiful countryside along rural canals or travel through the waterways of towns and cities. There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy such as piloting the boat, operating locks, fishing or just relaxing! You can stop where you like and go for a walk, bike ride or visit local attractions.

You do not need any experience or "driving" licence to hire a boat on inland waterways. The holiday company will give you as much tuition as you need when you pick up your boat. This will include casting off and mooring, steering, operating locks, carrying out daily boat checks and general safety.
Types of Boating Holiday

Where you go depends very much on the type of holiday that you are looking for. Active children will enjoy working the locks so you may want to choose a canal with many locks to work such as the Pennine waterways. If you have very young children or babies, you may prefer a route without locks or where the locks are operated for you, such as the River Thames.

Types of Boat
There are 3 main categories of boat:
> Cruiser – Fibreglass river cruisers.

Narrowboats – Available in all sizes of to 70ft length

> Widebeam/Barges – These are up to 14' in width and are sometimes referred to as barges.
Within these categories you will find a huge range of boats. The largest boats can accommodate up to 12 people.
Equipment Provided

Boats generally have a fully equipped kitchen with gas cooker, cooking utensils, crockery etc. There is hot and cold water usually with temperature controlled showers. Shaver points and hygienic flush toilets are standard. Heating can be space heating, radiators or a ducted warm air system. Boats have electric lighting and many have a radio/cassette and colour television. Bed linen is usually provided but you may need to bring your own towels.

One set of wet weather overalls are generally provided for the helmsman. Each boat usually carries lifejackets, fire extinguishers and fire blankets. There is also a full range of deck gear including boat hook, deck mop and ropes.

Planning Your Route

You could choose a round trip or a one-way trip. The holiday company will often transfer your car from your departure point to your arrival point.
The holiday company may provide you with some suggested cruising itineraries outlining the distances, estimated cruising times and number of locks for different routes. Normal cruising speeds are around 3 - 4 miles per hour, with an additional 15 - 20 minutes to navigate each lock.


On UK canals, you can stop overnight almost anywhere along the towpath side without charge. On most other waterways, there will be clearly marked places where you can moor for the night or during the day. Some of these may involve a small mooring charge.
Age Ranges

There are no minimum ages for a boating holiday.

Specialist Boating Gear

Deck Shoes – Non slip deck shoes

> Gloves – Protective gloves are useful for working locks.

Guidebooks – A waterways guidebook such as Nicholson's

Other Items To Take With You

Torch - For finding your way.


Camera – To record your holiday


Binoculars – For spotting wildlife


Household items – Towels, teatowels, washing up liquid, dishcloths.

> Food – Enough for a couple of days. You will be able to restock along the way.
> Sun protection – Sunhat, sunglasses and suncream will help to protect you from the strong sun.
> Soft bags – To pack your gear in. These are much easier to store on board.
More Sections in this Guide
>> Boating Holiday Companies

Subscribe | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Contact Us | ©2004-2009 Kids In Tow