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What should I pack for a boat holiday?

Canal boats are designed with storage spaces to fit everything you and your family will need for your boating holiday. Find out below what you probably will, and won't, need. Then you can concentrate on what's really important, having fun!

Hire boat Jacaranda twin beds, credit Waterways Holidays

Eating and drinking onboard

Canal boats are self-catering, so you'll need to bring enough food and drink for your holiday. But don't buy too much. Part of the fun is discovering all those wonderful waterside pubs and shops selling local produce.

Your hire boat company can tell you where the nearest shop is. Many boat companies offer a grocery service providing a starter pack when you arrive, and some customers even use a delivery service from major supermarkets.

Your boat will be well equipped with a hob, oven, grill and fridge. Many boats will also have a microwave. You'll be given all the necessary cooking utensils and crockery, linen and bedding.

What to wear

As well as a torch, bring non-slip deck shoes, hard-wearing gloves (for working the locks), waterproof clothing, a camera, and a waterways guide.

Wet weather overalls are sometimes provided for the person steering the boat (the 'skipper' or 'helmsman'). Life-jackets will be available for free at your hire boat company's base, so if you want these, make sure you request them and try them on before you set off.

When you're packing, soft suitcases are a good idea as hard suitcases can be harder to store.

Electrical and electronic items

Modern canal boats are usually fitted with standard 240v plug sockets, but some may have a limited electrical output. It's best not to bring appliances that use a lot of energy, such as blenders, toasters, heaters, electric kettles (your boat will probably have a stovetop kettle instead) and hairdryers (a travel or low-power hairdryer should be ok).

Some boats have USB sockets for charging mobile phones and tables, as well as normal plug sockets. It's best to charge your devices when the engine is running, otherwise they will drain the battery.

Check with your hire boat company what sort of sockets your specific boat will have, so that you can bring any necessary adapters or leads.

What not to bring

You shouldn't plan to bring large items, such as bikes or canoes, without first finding out from your hire boat company whether there is room for them on your boat.

Anything else?

If you're planning on looking out for wildlife, you may want to bring some binoculars.

Anglers will be keen to bring their fishing rod, and rod licence.

If you have children on board, bring sunglasses and sun cream too.

Last Edited: 20 July 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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