What is canal boating?
The canal network and rivers in Europe were excavated and developed between the 15th and 19th centuries for commercial purposes. The canals go through Europe throw its length, from the Mediterranean to the Netherlands, the Danube, and from there to the Black Sea, and constitute a major trade artery between and within the countries. Today these canals are not used for commercial purposes but rather as one of the most popular way to spending family vacation in Europe
Self-driving canal boating is very similar to a trip in a spacious and well-equipped caravan. Each of these boats is a mobile cabin with everything from basic accessories like beds, closets, toilets and showers, kitchen, living room, seating areas and tables to home comforts like TV, microwave to sun deck, A convertible and sunshades. In addition, most boats have a fully equipped kitchen with gas hob, oven and fridge. Kitchen utensils are also part of the package.
Each floating house is equipped with a heating system for sailing in cold areas during the transitional seasons, and the possibility of fans and cooling systems for sailing is moving at the height of the summer season. The boats are equipped with everything necessary for sailing and anchoring. The boats arrive with a full tank of fuel, which is usually sufficient for the entire period of the cruise (up to ten days), as well as a water tank sufficient for the first days of sailing. The boats are also equipped with a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and rescue suits depending on the number of passengers.
Self-driving boating requires no prior experience or license, and therefore a teenager can also sail a boat.
The most popular routes for families are in France, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland & Portugal.
When to go on this kind of trip?
- The recommended period for such a holiday is from April until the end of October. Although there are companies that rent boats all year round so you should check in advance whether the canal you intend to sail is open. Remember that there might be more problem to sail at the height of the season (July-August), because of the rental prices which are at their peak, the boat model you want may not be available and the load in the canals is large.
- The advisable duration of the optimal cruise is about a week- don’t take shorter time from that because the boat speed is very low .On the other hand, don’t take a longer period of sailing because the slow pace might be tedious and boring, especially when traveling with small children.
Planning the trip:
- The selection of the route should take into consideration the following elements: Budget, Duration of vacation, simplicity of arrival, the needs of the passengers and of courses the sites, landscapes and attractions along the route.
- It is recommended to book a boat a few months in advance.
- What kind of Boat to rent?
- It is recommended to choose a boat where the whole family can stay in comfort, and usually it is recommended to rent a boat that is suitable for the number of people in the family + 1. This will ensure enough living space for everyone.
- It is also worth taking into consideration the area of the cruise and the period during which it is sailing. If the chances of high rainy weather during the cruise, you should consider renting a boat with a dual steering system that allows you to navigate inside the boat. If you drive in the summer throw hot places you might consider renting a boat with air conditioning, a convertible boat or a sun deck on the roof, which promises pleasure on sunny days.
- When you come to plan the route of the trip it’s important to take in consideration that the sailing part of the day will include a maximum of five hours of sailing per day and to ensure that you combine - outside the boat itself - activities outside the boat, such as cycling, visiting small towns, amusement parks, picnics and ext.
- It is recommended to get a pre-map of the area and read about the attractions, the itineraries, the restaurants and other entertainment options in the area.
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What to bring to this kind of trip?
- Cash money: You do not always find an ATM in the small villages along the road, and the restaurants and businesses in the villages not always accept credit cards.
- Basic food: Bread, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and snacks that can satisfy your hunger during the cruise and become a great base for a picnic.
- Medical equipment: It’s recommended to bring home medicines for pain relief and fever reduction, plasters and ext., because there is no way of knowing where the nearest pharmacy will be.
- There is a lot of free time while sailing on the canal .So don’t forget to bring along box games, cards, books, creative sets and movies. It's time to go back to the box games and cards. Try to prepare for the young children presents and surprises that can be divided during the trip, such as coloring books, creative sets or small games.
- Don’t forget that the technology is part of the entertainment plan; make sure to have sufficient battery power for your journey. Choose electronics that offer rechargeable batteries or USB charging ports, Download new apps and games so your child is excited about trying them out in your touring caravan and don’t forget to bring headphones for some peace and quiet.
- Bring shoes with rubber soles in order to walk with them on the deck and to avoid slipping.
- If you like biking, you can rent bikes for a fee from the boat rental company for the trip and in desired stops you and your family can go bike riding.
Canal boating how it’s being done?
When you’ll arrive to the place where you will get the boat, Firstly, you should get to know the boat thoroughly and observe a practical demonstration of the right way of using it.
During the course of the training you will familiarize with the term of "Locks”- small dam systems designed to compensate for differences in the height of the water in the cruise segments along the canal route. Once passing through one or two “locks”, you'll learn to skill it, so the whole thing becomes an enjoyable and solid experience that allows the whole family to take an active part in the cruise.
Although You may want to spend the first night at the departure base in order to get use to the boat remember that along the canal there are organized anchors of sailing companies, where you can stock up on water and fuel and spend the night.
Notice that in every boat anchorage you will find some mechanical team and service personnel who will be able to assist in any matter - from operational issues, through renting equipment such as bicycles or even get recommendations on the route, ancient castles, good restaurants and attractions for children.
As a safety measure please notices that the children should wear life jacket when they are in the dock of the boat.
The greatest thing in canal boating is that you can stop almost anywhere you like. so, it's recommended to stop the boat from time to time and go for a walk around, have a picnic on the banks of a green river, take a bike trip in a unique and interesting route, stroll around a small town right on the river bank and get to know the locals.
Have a great sail!