The charity making life better by water

Why canal boating offers a unique staycation experience

We think canal boat holidays offer the security of a self-catering staycation and the fastest way to slow down.

Two adults drive a narrowboat along the canal to a tunnel

It seems holiday makers across the country wholeheartedly agree, with leading hire boat operators reporting their fleets are rapidly getting booked up for the boating season ahead, particularly from May half term onwards.

Richard Parry, our chief executive, comments, “Research shows that simply being on or by the water makes people feel happier. Hire boat holidays offer a relaxing getaway whilst staying local and safe. Spring, summer or autumn, all are the perfect time to get aboard a boat, with all your own facilities, and discover the magic of the nation's canals.”

Who are boat hire holidays for?

A canal boating holiday will allow you to be recharged by nature and enjoy the calming effect of holidaying by water, taking in stunning views as you cruise along the nation's breath-taking waterways.

Life aboard a boat offers something new for everyone, even your much-loved furry friends. You do not need to have previous experience driving a boat to book a canal boat escape, as holiday packages include tuition for beginners.

Canals and rivers are glorious during the spring and summertime. Cruising away from life on dry land is ideal for anyone who would relish a change of scenery and enjoy a peaceful adventure. If you love connecting with nature and the great outdoors, then booking a holiday by water could be the best thing you do all year.

When can I go on a canal boat holiday?

In England

From 29 March 2021, day boats can begin operating again in England - providing a fun way to keep the children entertained during the Easter break.

Single household holiday makers may cruise away from 12 April 2021 in England and stay in self-catered accommodation overnight. In line with this government guidance, operators are now accepting bookings for trips from this date onwards.

From 17 May 2021, two households or the “rule of six”, will be able to make bookings for staycation trips including hire boat holidays.

All restrictions will hopefully be relaxed by 21 June 2021, pending government advice and announcements.

In Wales

Self-contained accommodation is expected to reopen in Wales from 27 March 2021, provided cases of the virus remain low. This will mean that people living in Wales will be able to travel with their household from this date.

Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment as the summer months are proving very popular, though there is still lots of availability for May.

No need to worry

Many operators are offering flexible bookings for peace of mind, so if circumstances shift you can speak to them about changing or cancelling your booking. Check details with your holiday operator.

For more information on Drifters and hire boat holidays visit:

Last Edited: 07 April 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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