Going away for a few days on your houseboat? Good for you! However, you need to know how to plan a houseboat vacation to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Planning a houseboat vacation is quite like planning a regular vacation, just with some extra considerations. You need to find the right marina, pack the right essentials (you’re on a boat, after all), and ensure that you’re up to date on the safety requirements while you’re on your houseboat.
The fact that you will be spending time on a floating vessel (that you’re going to take charge of) means that it involves more due diligence. You’re not just responsible for choosing the destination but also the houseboat and marina. These are huge choices and can impact how much fun you’ll have on your vacation.
Luckily for you, we’re the experts when it comes to all things houseboat-related, having spent loads of time on houseboats. As such, we can guide you on how to plan a houseboat vacation the right way.
Planning a Houseboat Vacation
Like with vacationing abroad, there’s a good bit of planning that will go into a houseboat vacation, starting with the initial research.
Finding the Right Spot
It is recommended to do your research on the marina you’re interested in months in advance. Preferably 6 months in advance in order to get a general idea of what to expect at the location. Marinas have a range of houseboats, but they are not always available, which is why you will need to contact the marina in advance and make reservations. However, before that, you must choose the dates. Choose multiple dates that work for you and your family so you have a backup plan in case your main date is booked.
Finding out if the houseboat you want will be available or not is easy since many marinas have online request forms that visitors can fill in to ask questions such as the availability of the houseboat and other queries. It should be noted that if you plan to go on your houseboat vacation during peak season, then you will have to make reservations earlier. When it comes to houseboat reservations, it is best to call the marina six to eight months in advance to book the houseboat and put down an initial deposit.
What to Pack?
It is best to make a checklist of what you will be taking along on your houseboat vacation, such as clothing, food items, and games. If you will be going with children, then it’s best to coordinate beforehand on the things that need to be packed. When it comes to packing clothes for a houseboat vacation, going lightweight and waterproof is how the pros do it.
That being said, it may get cold during the nights, especially when you’re so close to the water, so packing some warm clothes could be useful. When it comes to footwear, many folks think they’d only need a pair of sandals since they are going to be on a houseboat, but what if you decide to take a short hike or explore the surrounding area?
This is why you should also take a pair of reliable and lightweight hiking shoes along for the trip, which will protect your toes far better than sandals. Since you are going to be on the water for a few days or weeks, pack enough towels, food, snacks, and medication. Depending on where the marina is located, it will also be wise to pack insect repellent to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Those who have pets and are planning a houseboat vacation will want to take their furry friends along too. However, it should be noted that not all marinas allow pets, and even if they do, the marina owners make their own rules when it comes to pets, which can vary depending on the marina.
If you take your pet along, it is best to ask the marina staff if pets are allowed while making the booking. Of course, you will also have to make sure that all of your pet’s shots are up to date and you have their ID tags and license with you just in case you’re asked for them.
When it comes to taking pets onboard a houseboat, safety should be your main concern. This means packing a life preserver along with a collar/leash and enough pet food to last for the duration of the houseboat vacation.
What about Water Toys?
Depending on the marina you go with, water toys and watercraft may not be on the list of add-ons once you book the houseboat. Marina owners recommend that people reserve additional watercraft or water toy rentals at least two months before the date of their vacation. It goes without saying that you should check and compare the pricing and availability of the watercraft and water toy rentals beforehand.
Get Familiar with Houseboat Safety
Since you and your family will be spending a fair amount of time on the houseboat, it pays to learn about houseboat safety, and more importantly, ask the marina about the safety features installed on the houseboat. For instance, it is normal for marinas to have carbon monoxide monitors installed on all of their houseboats to monitor the fumes of the generator and the engine.
While you’re at it, ask the marina about their maintenance policies and how regularly they carry out safety inspections of their houseboats. This should get you a good idea of how seriously they take the safety of their houseboats and their customers. The houseboat should also come with multiple fire extinguishers, depending on the size of the houseboat, first aid kits, a VHF radio for communicating with the marina in case of an emergency, and life jackets that are coast guard approved.
So, now that you know all about planning a houseboat vacation, all you have to do is load the car and drive on down to the marina to enjoy your houseboat vacation. You’ve earned it!
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson