First time on a houseboat / Houseboating with kids
Looking to enjoy a fun and relaxing family holiday cruising the waterways or lakes? With older children, there really are no limits, but a houseboat is still a safe and secure holiday option for kids of all ages, even the youngest. Simply take into account that a baby, toddler or teenager will have different requirements for space, your attention and having fun. So, what guidelines and tips make for a successful family vacation?
What are the needs of the younger crew members?
Babies are primarily dependent on their mothers. If they get everything they need, they can be happy practically anywhere. But you have to be there for them. Pack everything they might need and prepare for the fact that mum might get tired of taking care of the baby.
Older children under 5 will still need your care and time, so take plenty of toys on board to keep them entertained during the journey. It is also necessary to think about their safety.
Older children can often find their own entertainment. Give them their own cabin so they can enjoy some privacy and where they can fool around with other kids.
You can actively involve teenagers in the running of the boat and it's the perfect age to spark their love of the water. Teach them how to tie knots, drop anchor and let them handle the rudder for a while. While they're still at base, you can rent them bikes, a paddleboard or even an inflatable kayak to keep them entertained. There are plenty of ways to keep kids occupied on and off the deck.
The right boat for a family with children is essential
Choosing a boat that is suitable for children is key. Always try to put yourself in your kid's shoes before you start. What do you think they would enjoy doing on board? And what might make them uncomfortable? At the same time, you shouldn't forget about safety features. Check how the entrances to the decks are designed on a particular boat, how comfortable it is to get off onto the jetty, and whether or not there are railings on board. If you're getting stuck trying to figure out the right houseboat, simply contact us — we will be happy to recommend a boat that is perfect for your family.
A suitable destination: Burgundy has it all
In Europe, you'll find many places to keep both the little ones and the adult crew members entertained. One of our favourites is Burgundy – Franche Comté, a region in the east of France with a wide range of options to keep the whole crew happy.
The countless majestic castles around the Saone river will make the kids feel like they are in a magical fairytale land, and you'll undoubtedly love not only the cultural activities, but also the exceptional wine region where you can sample the most exquisite wines. And if you go during the summer, the water will be warm enough for you to spend your free time swimming, which is an integral part of a houseboat holiday.
Burgundy – Franche Comté is not simply suitable because of the wealth of activities on offer, but also because boating in the region itself meets all the conditions of a trouble-free family holiday on the water — there is no heavy traffic, boating is easy there and there are only a few locks. Plus, seasickness won't be a risk on these calm waters.
Set a daily routine with the kids
To make your holiday run as smoothly as possible for you and your children, we recommend dividing your day into several parts, alternating boating with other activities in roughly three- to four-hour blocks. Longer periods of time spent solely on board the boat could become boring, especially for the younger children. Go for a nice lunch, go for a swim, then go for a bike ride or a walk into town. If you want to cover more miles during the day, set off early in the morning or in the evening when your children are asleep.
A final family boating tip
Above all, remember that a boat holiday should be enjoyed by all. So don't stress yourself out unnecessarily. Set clear rules for everyone to follow, keep an eye on the kids a little more than usual and you can be sure to avoid any disasters. If you're still hesitant about taking the kids on a houseboat, remember that the sooner you do it, the sooner the kids will get used to boating and eventually learn to love it.