Everything you need to know about a narrowboat holiday including what to pack

Everything you need to know about a narrowboat holiday including what to pack

Top tips for a narrowboat holiday if you’ve never been before – including some of the packing essentials you won’t want to leave at home

It’s the summer of the staycation, and narrowboat holidays have been seeing a surge in bookings as Brits look for fun and different ideas for UK holidays.

They can make for a peaceful break as you explore the picturesque countryside while making your way down ancient waterways, meet friendly locals and get to do some exploring while taking your accommodation with you!

If you’ve never been on a narrowboat holiday, or you’ve just booked your first one, it can seem a little daunting especially when it comes to planning a trip, and what you need to pack.


  • A good jumper and waterproof coat are essential for when the weather turns…
  • …. but a T-shirt and shorts are also useful for when the sun is out!
  • Warm sleepwear is a must – even in August you’re close to the waterline and that can make temperatures drop when you’re sleeping
  • Try and avoid buying heaps of new clothes as they will most likely get covered in oil or mud, so opt for easy-to-clean fabrics, and maybe some older clothes you’re not too fussed about
  • Gardening gloves can be useful if you’re going through locks and need to pull at levers
  • Shoes with a good grip are advisable, along with a good pair of sunglasses and a hat for the super-sunny days.
  • Bed socks are fab even in summer, especially for when you want to tiptoe to the galley to make an early morning cuppa

Kitchen Essentials

  • Most narrowboats will have a well-equipped kitchen, but things like extra tea towels are a must, as are washing-up sponges
  • Pack your favourite foods – there may be local shops along your route but you may not be able to find your favourite snacks and drinks
  • Pack coffee and tea bags – these aren’t necessarily provided on narrowboats
  • Keeping drinks in a cool-bag on deck is a good back-up option if there isn’t much fridge space
  • Pack plenty of snacks – a day of manoeuvring and also passing through locks can be tiring

Other Handy Tips

  • Opt for eco-friendly cleaning products – these are friendlier on the waterways
  • Consider bringing your own pillow and an extra blanket if you’re prone to being cold
  • Try to not run the taps too much because water comes from an on-board tank which will need refilling if it runs low
  • Air freshener is a must-take – those on-board loos can get a little… whiffy by the end of the week
  • Packing a good deodorant, make-up wipes and even baby wipes is a good idea for freshening up, as is perfume (not too strong though, remember you’re in close quarters)
  • Bringing your own radio or portable speaker is a good plan for when the sun’s setting and you’re having a G&T on deck
  • Pack board games and books to keep busy – when one of you is steering, some of the others might want to relax in the narrowboat (although a walk along the bank is also a must!)
  • Pubs and restaurants near canals can get booked up, so reserve a couple of nights to avoid being disappointed
  • Embrace the slow pace of narrowboat life – it can be quite a mindful experience



Andy Halliday

Andy is a camping expert with over 20 years of outdoor experience. He shares his expertise through his blog that features on his very own e-commerce camping gear store. He aspires to use his knowledge and experience to help disabled families get the most out of every trip they take.

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