A canal boat holiday is a social activity, so when the job of planning a canal holiday gets dumped on you your first concern had better be to keep everyone happy!
A big help is that canal holidays, whichever route you choose, do have great ‘breadth’. I mean that they include plenty of opportunities for people to enjoy completely different things, often at the same time; relax, run up and down flights of locks, watch scenery, photograph wildlife, explore cities, villages, industrial history, steer boats, enjoy company, soak up solitude or the local ales! But you’ll all be living closely together for a while and a holiday is a big personal investment, so it’s your tricky job to see that everyone gets the holiday they want.
People will want different things from their canal holiday so involve everyone in choosing the route and the boat. All the information is online so share online canal holiday guides and company brochures and discuss things through emails, Facebook and tweets.
If this is your first canal boat holiday you need to be especially considerate of expectations, people really won’t know what to expect. And if there are only a few crew who are ‘active’ that makes it hard to ‘do your own thing’ – when you have to do all the locks!
Take time to find out who wants scenery, solitude, cities, towns, villages, heritage, pubs, golf courses etc. so you can find routes that offer everyone something. See our useful Canal Route Features page plus the detailed Canal Holiday Guide pages.
Some groups want lots of boating and lots of locks, other crews want relaxation and time to explore the surroundings. Your job is to get the right activity/relaxation/exploration balance for your crew.
If you go in the main holiday boating season some of the more popular canals may be busy, there may be queues at some locks and popular moorings may fill up early, so take that into account when planning. Out of season and winter canal holidays can be just as much fun.
Circular ‘rings’ are popular but don’t rule out an ‘out and back’ route. You can visit places you spotted on the way out, things always look different from a different direction, and most important – especially for first-timers – it is much easier to get the boat back on time.
Whatever type of route you choose make sure you have a contingency plan in case the weather is bad or there’s a canal holdup, a boat breakdown or someone is ill. If you don’t get the boat back on time hire firms charge penalties and you may ruin someone else’s holiday!
Once you have an idea for a route get everyone’s approval, then do some detailed planning. But don’t overestimate the distances you can travel at under 4 miles an hour, unless your crew can handle the consequences!
Of course you’ll also need to find out what standard of facilities your crew expect; how much room, what cabin and berth arrangements, the onboard features and gadgets, bikes …. and then balance all that against costs! We’ve more about Picking the Right Boat.
Now all you need to do is compare and find a hire firm in the right area with a boat that suits your needs who seems to have the right attitude and book! Find them in our listings of Canal Holiday Hire Firms.
Please let us know what is important when you plan your canal holdays!