Family Boating – Tips & 6 Holiday Ideas

Family boating trips are great fun for everyone involved, regardless of age or gender.

Children will especially enjoy experiencing parts of the world they’ve never ventured before.

Don’t have any children?

That’s completely fine, you can have just as much fun with your partner. It doesn’t matter how many people or how little people you have, if you’re with the someone you care about, you’ll have a blast of a time!

You’ll appreciate the experiences later in life when you can reminisce about all the amazing places you’ve visited with your family. This is an opportunity to create life changing memories with the company of your loving family.

But what are the best family holiday locations?

I’ve created a list of the 6 family boating trip ideas which will work great as a family holiday. I’ve also got some tips to give you the best experiences possible.

Family Boating Tips

Let’s begin with some tips first. Following these will ensure that you maximise the potential for having the best boating trip possible. Everything should be smooth sailing.

Plan Ahead

It’s very important that you plan everything ahead of time. For everything to go smoothly, you’ll want to plan everything sufficiently. Without enough planning, you’ll find yourself running into issues and trying to solve them. The last thing you want on your holiday is to be stressing and worrying.

Boating trips require exceptional amounts of planning as you’re not paying someone else to plan for you. If using your own boat, you’ll be responsible for everything. Whereas if you’re renting a boat then it won’t require as much planning.

Things you’ll want to plan:

  • Where you’ll be sleeping
  • What you’re going to eat
  • What you need to pack
  • What your holiday budget is
  • Research weather conditions
  • Research into your holiday destination
  • Research into visa and passport requirements

Essential Equipment

Depending on who’s participating in the holiday, the essential equipment will vary. For example, younger children would greatly benefit from a travel high chair that will fasten them securely, holding them in place safely. In recommend this Easy Seat Portable Travel High Chair.

Baby Portable High Chair Travel Harness Seat for Toddler Feeding, Safety...
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  • Travel Essentials--This baby portable travel harness seat is foldable...
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This is a very portable chair that can be brought everywhere with you. It features shoulder straps which will hold your baby/toddler in place securely for extra safety. It’s also washable so it’s alright if it gets a bit messy.

If you’re going to be on board a boat for long periods of time, you’ll want to ensure you have more than enough food and water. This is just common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people underestimate their resources. Just remember, it’s better safe than sorry so bring too much, not too little.

Whenever boating, you’re at the mercy of the waters you’re traveling on. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong, so you always want to be prepared. Therefore, an emergency kit is vital.

You should read my Boat Emergency Kit Guide.

In that guide I go into a lot of detail about what you need in your emergency kit and why you need them. I would not ride on any boat which I know doesn’t have an emergency kit on board. Do not put your family in danger, get yourself a emergency kit.

You’ll have to use your own diligence to identify what other equipment you should bring on your holiday. Though I have a guide on useful boat accessories which may come in handy.


If part of your family happens to be a pet, you’ll need to ensure you have the right equipment to accommodate for them on your boat. It’s just as important for your pet to have a good time, as it is for the rest of the family. Some items are essential, whereas other will make the trip for enjoyable for your pet.

The most important item you’ll need is a Dog Life Jacket. This will keep your dog afloat if it was to fall overboard. You can also get life jackets for cats. Other items would be a feeding/water bowl, ramp and sunscreen.

Outward Hound Granby Splash Orange Dog Life Jacket, Large
  • SIZING BASED ON GIRTH: Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Whether your...
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  • NOVICE & EXPERIENCED SWIMMER-FRIENDLY: The Granby Splash dog life...
  • MULTI-HANDLE DESIGN: Dual grab handles make it easy to restrain and...

For an extensive list of equipment, you’ll need for your pet, check out this guide on Dog Boat Accessories. Most items on the list will also apply for cats.

You’ll also need to plan according to your pets also. If you plan on staying in a hotel for a night or a few, you’ll want to do your research to make sure that the hotel accepts animals.

Train Your Crew

It’s a good idea to train your crew, this could make your boating trip a lot smoother and the kids will love getting involved. Instead of being a burden, children can prove be rather useful. Tasks which could be taught are storing fenders, releasing and pulling up the anchor, tidying lines, and other small activities which could be learnt with some supervision.

Training your crew could also make the trip safer. Teaching kids where not to place their fingers whilst operating the anchor winch is an example of this.

On-board Activities

Bring more than enough games and equipment for activities to keep everyone entertained for the duration of the trip. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on the water with nothing to do. The first activity which comes to mind when boating is likely fishing. Fishing is great fun and can keep everyone entertained for hours.

Depending on how adventurous your family is, you could also bring an inflatable boat slide. Other things you could bring are a boat grill, pack of cards, speakers, LED lights and a drone.

Don’t forget about the pets if you plan on bringing any with you, they would also love to have their favourite toys and treats.

Prepare for Sickness

If boating is a new experience for some crew members, or it is already known for some to be susceptible to seasickness, you will need to be prepared. Illness can ruin a whole holiday as it will not only affect those ill, but it will also dampen the mood everyone else.

You should ensure that everyone is well fed, rested and hydrated. This should always be the case, but this especially applies for boating. It’s also important to keep everyone busy to avoid boredom kicking in which could slowly lead to seasickness.

It’s important to be able to identify symptoms of motion sickness. These include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • General unwellness

If sea sickness starts to kick in, there are a few things you can do to reduce the affect of it. Firstly, avoid sitting backwards to the direction of travel. Try to keep your gaze fixed on the horizon, or any fixed point. Avoid being around others who are also suffering from seasickness. Avoid strong food doors. These are all recommended procedures by medicinenet.

Family Boating Holiday Ideas

Next, I’ll recommend 5 holidays ideas for your family boating trip. Personally, I’ve not been to all the locations however I’ve heard great things from a lot of my boater friends and heard some remarkable stories. You’ll have great time regardless of where you go. The world is your oyster.

Picnic on a Beach

Family picnic on the beach

A family boating trip doesn’t have to be an overly expensive, complexed mission. It can be as simple as a picnic on the sea or nearby beach.

You can’t go wrong with a simple picnic, planning and equipment required is minimal. Because this is such a cheap and low effort trip, you could have this trip every week if you really wanted. To spice things up a bit, you could pull up to the beach and wait till nightfall to roast marshmallows on a bonfire.

Boat Camping

Another affordable boating trip suitable for all the family is camping on your boat. Everyone will benefit from being disconnected from their electronics and being given the opportunity to connect to their family better.

Boat camping takes a bit more preparation than a simple picnic however it’s not difficult as long as you know what you need. A bonus is that It gives more of a holiday vibe which will surely trigger the excitement of the kids.

Things you’ll need:

  • Tents / Boat Enclosure
  • Sleeping Bag / Sleeping Pads
  • Cleaning / Sanitary Products
  • Food and Drink
  • Campfire Equipment / Heater
  • Torches / Headlamps

I have an extensive guide on boating camping which is a required read if you plan on going on such a trip. It goes into detail on how to prepare for camping on a boat and how to choose a site for boat camping. You can find the guide by clicking here.

Boat Parade

BodyTalk canal boat parade

Boat parades are loads of fun! Especially around the holiday season.

The Newport beach Christmas boat parade is an outstanding holiday event. Over a million viewers attend every year to watch hundreds of decorated boats compete against each other for awards, whilst the sky is lit up by fireworks and holiday lights.

Depending on where you’re located you should be able to find a boat parade near you that’s willing to accommodate for you and your family.

Fishing Expedition

family fishing trip

As briefly mentioned previously, fishing is a great family boating activity. It doesn’t get much better than a fishing expedition.

Instead of sitting in one spot for the whole day, you should visit as many different fishing spots as possible to make the most out of the trip. Once someone catches a fish, move onto the new spot. The faster pace, the more fun. You can make a game out of it, whoever catches the most fish during the trip, wins.

When I’m on a fishing expedition with my family we say whoever catches a fish at each location becomes the king/queen of the spot so at the end of the day we can reflect on who captured which spots. Then next trip everyone can take over someone’s spot and overthrow them as king/queen if they catch a fish in that spot. This is a fun little game we call ‘Fishing Takeover’.

There’s so much more to fishing than casting a line for fish. You can also go clam and crab hunting. You can spice up your fishing trip a bit with these alternatives. Personally, my family aren’t too big on crabs, but the kids love collecting clams and comparing their collection.

Scavenger Hunt

scavenger hunt for the whole family

This one is specifically for the kids. You’ll have to plan a few destinations and a list of items. You’ll go from destination to destination and the kids must try their best to gather as many items from the list as possible.

Kids love nothing more than a good old treasure hunt. This will keep them entertained for the whole day. The only downside to this idea is that they’ll constantly be begging for another treasure hunt!

This type of game doesn’t take too long to prepare. Just list some locations that aren’t too far from each other and some commonly found items. For example, if you know one of the locations has an apple tree, you could add an apple to the list.

For even more fun you can let the kids dress up as pirates. You could probably purchase cheap pirate accessories from the dollar store and let them wear some old torn up clothes or Halloween costume. This will put them in a treasure hunting mood and set the theme for them.

The theme doesn’t necessarily have to be pirates either. You can choose whatever type of theme you want, from Indiana Jones to wizards and witches.

Add clues to the mix to get the kids thinking. These clues should guide the players and give them tips to help them find the items. Tailor these clues to the age of the players, obviously older kids should be given more difficult clues in the form of riddles and puzzles. Whereas younger children would benefit from easier clues in the form of rhymes or poems. Really young children can be given pictures instead.

Visit a Marina

luxury boat marina in Monaco

You could make visiting a resort-type marina part of your family boating trip. These are harbours with moorings for small boats that usually have a variety of different of facilities for you and your family. For example, restaurants, hotels, swimming pools, gyms, etc…

Most will allow you to dock for free as they know you’re likely to spend money there anyway. Likely your marina will have 24/7 security to ensure that your boats safe during your visit.

Marinas are always great fun and able to accommodate for everyone. If you have kids, I’m sure they’ll love the swimming pools, the amazing views, the great food and whatever else your marina offers. If everyone in your crew is older some marinas also host poker runs and networking events that are always interesting.

Do your research and find a marina near you and see what they have to offer. They’re scattered all over the country so you’re sure to find at least one nearby. They’re all different and provide different levels of services so look for reviews before visiting. It’s always great to know what’s on offer so you can make the most of your time.

There are many different websites available that will show you what your options are. is always a good bet. Simply type in your location and all local Marinas, Harbors, Bridges, Locks, Fuel options and more are displayed on the map.

Example of some Marinas in the US:

Miami, FL:

  • Miamarina
  • Black Point Marina
  • Keystone Point Marina
  • Dinner Key Marina

Detroit, MI:

  • Jefferson Beach Marina
  • Kean’s Marina
  • Lac Sainte Clair Park

Los Angeles, CA:

  • Marina Del Rey Marina
  • Cabrillo Way Marina
  • Rainbow Harbour and Marina

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