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Houseboating for Beginners: Tips & Tricks

Starting Your Adventure on the Right Foot

Discover our curated guide tailored for newcomers. From safety precautions to maximizing fun, get insider knowledge.

Before You Go

Make a checklist: Organize by category of what you want to bring (clothes, games, groceries, etc.) and review it with everyone who is going. If you’re traveling with another family or friend group coordinate with them beforehand about sharing essentials like shampoo and sunscreen. This can be a huge space saver on board!

Pets: If bringing your furry friend be sure that all shots are up to date–license and ID tags are a must. Don’t forget to pack a life preserver, leash/collar, and food!

Plan your route: Get a map of the lake or waterway to plot your route or overnight locations.

What To Pack

Remember, our vessels are well-equipped, but there are some things just too personal to provide. For a great houseboat stay we recommend the following:

Different colored towels for each person as well as extra hand towels to keep on deck (and clothespins to hang them up to dry)

Flashlight and extra batteries

First Aid kit and sufficient supply of prescription meds

Sleeping bags

Butane lighter for grills (matches provided onboard)

Extra paper towels and toilet paper

Your favorite Chef’s knife if you plan to do some serious cooking


Lightweight and waterproof is the way to go! It can get chilly at night in any season so a cozy sweater or pair of sweats will prove useful. You’ll want to pack water shoes that are suitable for light hiking; they’ll protect your toes better than sandals. Don’t forget the sunglasses, hats, or visors to protect you from the sun!

Food and Drink

Your houseboat will be your home away from home for a few days, so don’t forget the small essentials like salt, pepper, sugar/sweeteners, cooking oil, condiments, and coffee/creamer.

Upon Arrival

Orientation will ensure you are thoroughly prepared, but there are a few extra steps you can take:

Assign two other adults as a backup Captain

Review use of fire extinguishers and even show the kids

Set rules for the use of life jackets

Check to see if you need any permits for campfire/bonfires ashore, where allowed

While Aboard

With the other adults on board agree on a watch schedule for younger passengers to avoid any miscommunication or accidents. If you have a smaller boat remember you can use it to stop by the marina to drop off trash, fill up on gas, or enjoy an ice cream!

In the Kitchen

Decide how much you want to cook and how often you’d like to dine at the various marina snack bars and restaurants. With a little planning, cooking on board your houseboat can be fun and fuss-free.

Bring “no cook” foods for hot weather breakfasts and lunches to avoid any spoiled meals.

Bring ready to cook pouches to avoid filling up the fridge or storage space with bulky boxes.

Organize your cooler beforehand and layer food in order of the days you intend to eat/cook.

Bring a small cooler for beverages so you don’t have to open the fridge often.

Split kitchen chores each day, perhaps two people or one family per day.

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