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rope on boat

Boating holidays with children

All parents will know that holidays change as soon as children come along. The biggest change is that keeping them happy generally becomes your top priority, which often means that you automatically find yourself looking for child-friendly options…

Why boating holidays are great for families
Boating holidays have much the same appeal as caravanning holidays – only on the water. You get your own space with your own facilities. That means you can organize everything how you like and cook for yourselves if you choose.  
One big difference between caravans and boats is that boats are much more comfortable when you’re on the move. Caravans need to be empty when you move them. That means children (and adults) are often stuck in car seats with all their limitations.  
Boats, however, are literally designed to be moved with people in them. In fact, they’re designed to have people moving about while they’re moving. That gives parents a whole lot more options for keeping children entertained. If you have pets, then you can usually take them along too.
Your options for boating holidays
If you’re looking at family-friendly boating holidays, you have three main options. These are narrowboat holidays, inland boating holidays (on lakes and rivers) and marine boating holidays. With younger children, narrowboat holidays may be the best option.  
Narrowboats were intended to be places to live and are still used as such. They travel on canals so you’re guaranteed tranquil water. The biggest practical challenge you’ll face is navigating locks and that just takes a bit of practice.  
Inland boating holidays and coastal boating holidays both require a different type of boat. These boats tend to be intended for relatively short-term use but are at least as comfortable as caravans. Boating on inland water can be more tranquil than boating in the sea/ocean. It can, however, still be rougher than boating on canals.
Renting a boat vs buying a boat
If you’re just trying out family boating holidays, then renting a boat is usually the only sensible way to go. It also tends to be the best option if you want to do inland sailing in different destinations. Basically, going to your destination and renting a boat there is likely to be a lot easier (and quicker) than using your boat to get to and from the destination.
If you get really into family boating holidays, then there’s a lot to be said for buying your own boat. There are, however, two points you should consider seriously before you make a final decision. The first is where you’re going to keep it. The second is how you’re going to maintain it.
If you’re buying your own boat, you need a basic tool kit suitable for the type of boat you have. For example, if you have a seafaring boat, you’ll need Sika 291 rather than regular household sealant. You’ll also need the skills to use what you have. It’s strongly advisable to learn and practice these when your boat is docked so you can use them easily on the water if necessary.
*This is a collaborative post.