How to have an enjoyable and safe canal boating holiday


More than 150,000 people enjoy boat holidays every year in the UK. If you considering heading out on the water, we have some tips to ensure a safe and fun experience.

Choose your landscape

One of the best things about this particular type of holiday is that you get to enjoy a constantly changing landscape; every day you’ll wake up to a beautiful new view. However, it’s worth looking into a variety of canal routes and considering which setting you like the most. For instance, you might like the idea of passing through a series of bustling towns, stopping off at each one to explore the area. Or you might prefer a more peaceful, rural landscape, where the boat mainly passes by tranquil, countryside areas.

Be realistic and prepare for all weather

It’s important to pace yourself and be realistic about how much distance you can cover each day. Cruising from dawn until dusk on a canal boat, with no stops, can become tedious. It’s far better to take your time, relax and enjoy the sights, taking regular breaks to explore your surroundings. Ideally, you should aim for a maximum of six hours of cruising per day. In regards to the weather, it is crucial to come prepared for anything. The weather in the UK is unpredictable, to say the least and you may find that there are some days with clear skies and sunshine and others with bouts of rain and thunder. Given that this type of holiday requires you to brave the elements in order to make progress along the water, it’s important to bring everything you need to be comfortable – this includes light clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen for the warmer days and rainwear, wellies and umbrellas for the rain.


As mentioned previously, there is always a possibility that it will rain at some point during your canal boat holiday. But this needn’t spoil your holiday, provided you bring along things to keep you and your boating companions entertained. A pack of cards, a couple of board games, books and a radio are all good for keeping everyone amused when the rain prevents you from enjoying the outdoors.

Get to grips with the basics of boating

Whilst many people mistakenly assume that operating a boat is much the same as operating a car, this is simply not the case. A boat does not have brakes and does not steer in the same way that a car does. You can stop the boat from moving forward by putting it into reverse, but this move needs to be done very carefully, so as not to cause the boat to jerk suddenly. If you’re not comfortable with operating the boat, make sure to ask the hiring company for tips and assistance. Lifejackets are, of course, essential and should be worn by everyone on board.

Stocking up

On most boat holidays, people usually eat their breakfasts and lunch on board and then dine out in the evenings in the nearest town. As such, it’s worth stocking up the cupboards and the fridge. However, storage space is likely to be quite limited, so you’ll need to think carefully about what you bring. Tinned and dried goods are great and can be used along with fresh produce purchased from the local town, to make a wide selection of hearty meals.

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