Having been on a boating holiday a whopping 2 whole times now, I feel qualified to call myself an expert on all things boating (I’m not). For the past 2 years, my boyfriend and I have taken our holiday with Barnes Brinkcraft, a boat hire company in the Norfolk Broads and spent just short of a week chugging up and down the broads on rivers of all shapes and sizes, encountering an array of wildlife and living a very restricted and self-sufficient life in the confines of a small boat. I’m a huge fan of the staycation but don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re not leaving the country, your holiday is going to come and go problem free. It won’t.

Whilst a boating holiday can be exceptionally calm and relaxing; taking yourself off into the middle of nowhere with no phone signal for half of the time and with absolutely no means of straightening your hair, it can also be quite difficult, especially if you’ve never done it before and don’t know what to expect. It may be relaxing and the scenery may be beautiful, but on a boat, you have to be on your guard a lot of the time in order to keep you and the rest of your party safe. Being prepared for a boat holiday is some of the most crucial things and something I’m learning the more I do it. Here are my top 10 boating holiday essentials you absolutely must need.

  1. Warm clothes: Summer or winter (although you probably wont be going in the winter), it gets cold on a boat. Especially at night. Remember that whilst you’re stationery and in the cabin, you are essentially sitting on freezing cold water that is surrounding your boat all throughout the night. Thermal socks, plenty of jumpers and a hot water bottle as well for good measure. It can get really cold standing on deck too, depending on what the weather is doing and the weather will do everything during your time there!
  2. Bottled drinking water: Hiring a boat is pricey and many smaller boats don’t have drinking water on board and it’s not advised to drink the water from the tap (unless you boil it to make tea). The company I go with offer short breaks – Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday so a pack of 6 or 8 drinking water’s is plenty to cover that space of time as long as you’re drinking other stuff too.
  3. Sensible shoes: You can forget about heels or pumps, sensible shoes are crucial for walking around on deck and especially getting on and off the boat where you’re mooring up and getting going again. Especially if the banks are slippery from rain, the last thing you want to do is slip!
  4. A camera: The Broads are beautiful and you’ll wanna capture some of that beauty during your trip! A camera with plenty of spare batteries or a decent lens for your phone is a must. A good zoom is important for when you wanna capture the beautiful herons sitting on the side of the banks.
  5. A map: Your hire company will likely provide you with a map but make sure you don’t leave the boat yard without one. If they don’t provide ne, you’ll be able to pick one up somewhere nearby for a few quid. It’s vital you know where you’re going as there are some rivers you may not be able to get through because of height restrictions on bridges and certain areas where hire craft aren’t allowed to be – some of which take you out to sea and that’s really not where you want to be!
  6. Dry shampoo: Days on the boat are long and you’ve gotta keep an eye on how much water you’re using and with hair as long and as thick as mine, I definitely don’t have time to waste washing it! Wash it before you leave, take a bottle of dry shampoo and you’re good to go.
  7. DVD’s: Most hire crafts come with a TV with a built in DVD player but you can’t always rely on the signal the TV gets and with no signal on your phone, you may find you’re stuck for something to do for a few hours during your holiday. Bring some of your favourite DVD’s along and you don’t have to worry about any signal cutting out and you can have yourself a movie night on the boat!
  8. Enough food: Boats are self-catering – obviously and chances are you won’t be stopping off at a pub / café for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day. Boating can be hungry work so make sure you bring enough to eat and ensure you’ve checked what appliances your boat has before you leave!
  9. Correct phone charger: On our first boat, we could only charge our phones using a car charger (the ones you put in the cigarette lighter) so it’s important you find that out before you leave. Keeping at least one phone charged is crucial, in case you get into any bother and need to call the engineer or the coastguard.
  10. A book: That might just be the bookworm in me talking but you’ll have all the time in the world whilst you’re cruising along. If another member of your party has taken over the wheel, sit back and get stuck into a good book whilst you’re bobbing along.

Have you ever been on a river cruiser or a boating holiday? Would you like to?


  1. I remember when you said ages ago on Twitter you was visiting the Broads coz I live near by! I remember going to a hen party once and we hired out a boat, was so much fun! I’m glad you enjoyed your boating holiday 🙂

    1. Oh my god I can’t believe you remember that! I’m so jealous, when we went, we met this family and we were saying do you think the people who live here realise how lucky they are!

  2. Hey! This post would have been so handy for myself & my parents!! Both taken boat holidays separately and loved them!! It is so relaxing 😄 Being in the Whitsundays on a pirate ship was incredible. Would love to do it again!!
    Brilliant post Jenny thank you! Xoxo

  3. I’ve never thought of this type of holiday, but would love to experience it know! Thanks for sharing your tips 🙂 x


  4. I love the broads and have had many a happy holiday there. Mixed clothes are essential with sensible clothes. Pack lots of treats and water for those cups of tea to warm the team up, Chloe #TeacupClub

  5. I have never been on a boat before (at all), but this post makes me want to go on a boating holiday! Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely be referring back to this!

  6. I’ve never considered a boating holiday before, but after reading this that has definitely changed! We are off interrailing in a few weeks and knowing what to pack is such a challenge! Will definitely be checking back here when it comes to our packing, definitely believe there are a lot of crossovers!

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Funny that if it’s not a clear cut “beach holiday” or “skiing holiday” it’s always so difficult to know what to pack! Have a great trip and if you ever do decide on a boating holiday, im happy to help!

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