First time on a houseboat / What to pack for a houseboat holiday
Before embarking on your first houseboating adventure, you should consider and plan what exactly to take along with you on board the boat. To help you out, we've put together a list of items that have proven most useful to us whilst cruising the waterways.
Choosing your luggage: go for a bag
On houseboats, storage space is limited. So when packing, try to avoid the usual suitcases that might get in the way on board. Instead, look for luggage that can be folded or rolled up. Travel bags or backpacks are ideal. If you're travelling to the base marina by car, consider leaving your luggage inside, only taking on board the items you need.
What to wear on a houseboat
When working out what clothes to pack, consider the season and your comfort first. Take only what you can actually carry and don't expect to be changing your outfit every two hours. Pack comfortable shoes with non-slip white soles that won't leave scuffs or other marks on the surfaces — trainers or sneakers are sufficient.
In warm weather, you'll be thankful for a swimsuit, sunglasses and headgear but don't forget to be prepared for days when the weather isn't so pleasant. In autumn and spring, warmer clothing, such as a waterproof jacket and boots, will come in handy. Opt for functional, quick-drying materials that can be layered when needed.
Extra gear you'll appreciate on board
For smooth sailing, don't forget to bring all the documents you'll need during the trip — a passport or ID card, a captain's license (if required at your destination), and all documents related to the boat charter.
During the cruise itself, you will need gloves for handling the ropes at anchor and in the locks. You can choose leather gloves or gardening gloves, but cycling gloves will work just as well. If you have binoculars at home, pack them too so you can take full advantage of the beautiful scenery and do a spot of wildlife watching.
A torch or headlamp will come in handy in the evening and at night. And you can't go wrong if you equip yourself with waterproof bags and covers. Towels are a definite must — quick-drying ones are the best and remember to pack clothes pegs to secure them when drying.
As well as the cosmetics you normally use, take sun protection and insect repellent. Some toilet paper will also be useful. And remember to pack your own medication and a basic first aid kit.
Other items you'll appreciate on the houseboat include kitchen and cleaning products, duck tape (always handy), earplugs, a multi-tool and a variety of games to stave off boredom. Bring plenty of toys for the kids and remind the adults to bring a camera.
Before leaving home, download any apps you might need on your phone, such as maps or weather forecasts.
Food and drink when boating
Before you start thinking about food, pay attention to something more essential — drinking water. Always make sure you have plenty on board. Of course, it's not a problem to buy water anywhere, but always keep a few litres in reserve just in case.
Regarding food, always have some with you, even if you intend to eat mostly in restaurants and bistros. You can bring food from home, but there are usually supermarkets or other shops near base catering for holidaymakers where you'll find everything you need. In some destinations, you can order groceries to be delivered on board or buy food packages directly from the boat rental company or owner.
Remember that all our houseboats are fully equipped so you'll find everything you need for living on board. And if you should happen to leave something at home, you'll get plenty of opportunities during your trip to purchase anything you might need. The main thing is not to get stressed out unnecessarily and simply enjoy your relaxing cruise.
New to houseboating and looking for some inspiration? Take a look at our 5 best houseboat routes for beginners.