10 Types Of Things To Bring On A Houseboat Trip (With 75 Examples)

If you are planning to take a trip or vacation on a houseboat soon then you are probably trying to figure out what to pack for your trip. Whether you are renting a houseboat or using your own knowing what to take is certainly difficult. 

So what are some things you should bring on your houseboat trip? Some of the main categories of things you should bring with you are:

  • Clothing
  • Toys
  • Sleeping items
  • Food
  • Electronics
  • Health items 
  • Recreation items
  • Toiletries 
  • Tools
  • Cookware 

Under each of the mentioned main categories there are certainly tons of items. In this article I will go into more depth of each of those categories and give some specific items that you certainly don’t want to be without while on your boating trip.

1. Clothing 

This is one of the most important things to pack properly. The issue with that is what you pack will depend on the weather when you are going on your trip. Planning what you should wear on your houseboat trip is something that should be written out for every passanger.

If you are going during the summer you obviously won’t need to bring heavy coats but you might want to bring hoodies or light jackets if it’s chilly in the morning or evening. Being that you will be on the water you will for sure want to bring some waterproof shoes. I would also recommend bringing water shoes so if the lake or river you are on is rocky you can go in the water without worrying about what you will step on. 

Some of the items in this category that you should take on your trip are: 

  • Waterproof shoes
  • Water shoes (those designed to wear while swimming) 
  • Hoodies or jackets (in case of rain or cold) 
  • Extra changes of clothes (you will get stuff dirty, wet or both, I guarantee it) 
  • Swimwear 
  • Normal clothes that you would wear for the weather
  • Sturdy shoes or boots (for exploring in land) 
  • Extra socks (yes, seriously! Socks are always getting wet on board a boat) 
  • Ponchos (in case of rain) 

There are certainly many other things you should pack for clothing but those are the things people don’t often think about or remember from the clothing category. 

2. Toys 

There are most definitely a lot of things that fall into this category. From toys for the kids to play with on the way to the boat to the water toys that they will want when swimming there are tons of toys to remember.

My wife and I always let our kids pick out a small bag full of toys for each of them. That gives them some “packing” to do but also keeps them from blaming us for bringing the wrong toys! 

Some specific toys that you should consider bringing with you are: 

  • Swim toys (only floating ones) 
  • Beach toys (shovels, buckets, etc.) 
  • Inflatable toys (to play with in the water) 
  • Rainy day toys (it’s always a good idea to have some toys that can be played with inside in case it rains while you are there) 
  • Stuffed animals (anything that your kids wouldn’t want to sleep without especially) 
  • Board games (be sure and bring some that will work with all ages) 
  • Cards (it’s amazing how many different games you can play with a couple decks) 
  • Coloring books (in case of rain or if your kids need something to do after playing hard all day) 
  • Play doh (don’t let them get this out in the car believe me) 
  • Legos (great for virtually everyone under the age of 16) 
  • Paints (make sure to only let them use this where the paint won’t damage anything) 
  • Markers (again don’t let them ruin the boat by using markers on everything. My walls still have a green tint in places!) 

There are many other toys or games that you could bring. I like to get the kids who are a little older involved in ideas of what they want to do so that way they get some say in the packing for the trip. It also helps keep them busy making a list of what they want to do or bring! 

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3. Sleeping items 

These will vary depending on what your boat comes equipped with. Some houseboats will already have blankets, sheets, etc. while others will have none at all. If you are renting the houseboat just call and ask the place what comes on the boat already and then decide what you still need to bring. 

  • Sleeping bags (sleeping under the stars can be an amazing adventure) 
  • Tents (spending a night on the beach all alone can be a great experience for older teens or younger adults) 
  • Pillows (these are often not included or there aren’t near enough on board) 
  • Lights (a solar powered light can work great for a night light in the hall or wherever you have kids sleeping) 
  • Extra blankets (even if blankets come with the boat it isn’t a bad idea to have a couple extra in case of cold or one getting wet) 
  • Air mattress (many boats won’t have enough places to sleep so a couple air mattresses can help immensely. 

If you can get exact information from the place you are getting the boat from you might not need all of these things but it’s a good idea to check and if you aren’t sure then bring them anyway. 

4. Food

Anytime you are on vacation you are going to want to take some food with you. This is especially true when you are on a houseboat and every meal will be eaten from the food you bring. 

We’ve taken quite a few family vacations and food is always one of the things we like to do right. Sitting down at the table and telling stories while eating dinner is something we all enjoy. 

Not everyone will have the same enjoyment around the table but everyone will want to eat! Some of the food that you should bring on your houseboat is:

  • Proteins (cheese and beef sticks work great for a quick snack that helps fill you up after swimming all day) 
  • Snacks (individual packs of crackers, chips, etc. can be nice but they get expensive quick. If you have a large group portioning then out into sandwich bags can save some serious money) 
  • Canned goods (there isn’t a whole lot of fridge or freezer space on most houseboats so plan as many meals as possible to be made from canned goods) 
  • Dry goods (again, there just isn’t much room in the fridge. Plan to bring as many dry and canned goods as possible for your meals. 
  • Dairy (if you are big milk drinkers or eat a lot of eggs for breakfast be sure and bring them along. You won’t have much fridge space so make sure you use them sparingly) 
  • Drinks (whether adult drinks or drinks for everyone you probably won’t have much available on board besides water. We always bring gallons of tea, lemonade, etc.) 
  • Sweets (most people have a little bit of a sweet tooth especially when on vacation. Bringing some already made brownies, cookies, candy, etc. can be nice to eat after meals) 
  • Oils and condiments (make sure to plan ahead and bring any oils or condiments that you will need for your meals during your trip) 

Every family is different so what food you bring will be vary as well but remember that freezer and refrigerator space will be minimal so the more canned and dry foods that you bring with you the better in the long run. 

5. Electronics 

Electronics is probably the thing on this list that we are least likely to forget. We carry them with us all the time (phones) we use them at work (computers) and we come in contact with them at every store and in every room of our house. 

There are some electronics that are more easily forgotten when you are packing for a vacation on your houseboat. Those items are: 

  • Chargers (phones, computers, cameras, toys, etc.)
  • Camera (assuming you actually have one of these. Most people just seem to use their cell phone for all of their pictures) 
  • Floating Waterproof bags (assuming your electronics aren’t waterproof and even if they are it’s hard to find them if they get dropped to the bottom of the lake) 
  • Video games (if you have a TV on board. I’ve spent tons of great family time playing Wii bowling) 
  • Wireless hotspot (if you don’t have internet on board but would like something besides your phone) 
  • Streaming device (roku, firestick, etc. That is assuming that you have internet on board and a TV) 
  • Fish finder (some boats will be equipped with this and others won’t but if you want to find where all the fish are this can’t be beat)
  • Radio (yes, this is old school but if you don’t have internet or phone service, it’s a good idea to have some way to listen to local weather reports. You can also find your favorite station and listen to some music) 
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Of course you could bring phones, tablets, computers, and more but I highly doubt you will forget this sort of things. Especially when we are used to checking for our phones everything we leave the house. 

6. Health Items 

This one covers a wide variety of different things that you don’t want to forget. I could honestly list a lot of things under this category but I will just give you the major ones. 

  • Medicine (make sure to bring anything and everything you might need. When you change your schedule and eating habits people seem to get sick more often) 
  • Lotions (you are going to be on the water and in the sun. Bring tons of suntan lotion and also lotions like aloe to help those who are too hard headed to wear suntan lotion) 
  • Antiseptics (someone is bound to get hurt at some point. Bring your sprays, lotions, creams etc.) 
  • Bandages (everytime someone gets in and out of the water they will need a new bandage so bring plenty) 
  • Bug spray (there will be bugs! Bring plenty of repellant and if you have a big zapper or something it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring those either. Some people swear by vanilla perfume for mosquitos)

I could go through and list all the medicines that you could bring but we always try and bring one for every type of illness. So that means we take nyquil, tums, pepto, Aleve,Tylenol, and any prescriptions or meds that are regularly used. 

7. Recreation Items 

In this category I basically included everything that you would want or need for relaxation or for fun. What you will want to bring will vary by your personal preferences but I will give you some things that we always like to bring: 

  • Snorkel/scuba gear (exploring the underwater world is always tons of fun) 
  • Books (many people in my family love to read, so having a good book or two is always a good choice) 
  • RC boats (these can be bought pretty cheaply and will give hours of enjoyment) 
  • Hiking equipment (if you plan on exploring the land you will want to bring something other than swim shorts to wear) 
  • Fishing gear (everyone loves fishing and living on a boat makes it easier to always have a pole in the water. Don’t forget the bait and tackle box) 
  • Yoga mats (if you do yoga but even if not having a few mats that you can lay on to get a tan is a good idea) 
  • Fuel (if your boat comes with jet skis, or other powered watercraft then bringing extra fuel is a good way to ensure that you can have fun on them the entire trip. This will be provided with some houseboat rentals) 
  • Inflatable boats (this could be rafts, kayaks, and more. They make virtually anything inflatable now and you can bring it without taking up tons of space) 
  • Metal detector (I love metal detecting on land or in the water. Make sure to either have a rechargeable detector or to bring extra batteries) 

Each person will have a different idea of what recreation or relaxation is to them so be sure and pack what each person would like to help make the trip more enjoyable. 

8. Toiletries 

This is the category that everyone always seems to forget something or need more of an item. Some examples of things you might want to bring are: 

  • Extra towels (there is going to be water everywhere and you probably won’t have a very high powered dryer if you have one at all. Extra towels will keep you from having to reuse them when they are still damp) 
  • Floss (of course you will remember your toothbrush and toothpaste but what about floss? There is nothing more annoying than having a piece of food stuck in your teeth for a long time) 
  • Contacts/eye drops  (if you wear contacts be sure and bring extras as well as your eye drops.) 
  • Deodorant (of course you won’t forget this but make sure you have enough as you will probably be putting more on than normal) 
  • Nail polish (this might seem odd but on a rainy day painting each other’s nails can be a great pass time) 
  • Blow dryer (with everyone in and out of the water someone’s hair will almost always be wet. A blow dryer will help keep that wet hair from lasting the entire trip) 
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Depending on your family you might need to bring tons of other items or just a couple but the things above are less common items that you will probably want to bring. 

9. Tools 

Even if you are just renting the houseboat it is a good idea to have some tools on board to fix any minor issues that might come up. You don’t have to be a mechanic but if screws or bolts come loose from something it’s a good idea to have a way to tighten them. Some things you should have are: 

  • Cordless drill (will help out tighten screws that are too difficult to do by hand) 
  • Socket set (there will be tons of nuts and bolts on board the boat that can come loose. Having a variety of sizes can make that far easier) 
  • Pliers/ vice grips (you never know when you might need a good set of pliers to fix a toy, bend some metal, or tighten something up) 
  • Drill set (you can get a set that includes every type of drill bit as well as every type of screw bit. This along with the cordless drill can fix a bunch of issues. 

These basic tools will help keep your boat safe and allow you to fix little things with little to no hassle. 

10. Cookware 

Some houseboats will have cookware on board while others won’t have hardly anything at all. Contact the rental company or who you are getting the houseboat from and ask them what cookware is included. Some important items to have are: 

  • Frying pans (useful to make tons of different foods or to just heat up some leftovers) 
  • Crockpot (uses a small amount of electricity while cooking a meal all day) 
  • Instapot (this recent phenom has tons of excellent recipes online and can cook tons of meals in under 30 minutes) 
  • Pots (having a few different sized pots can help you boil or cook your veggies, pasta, soups, and more) 
  • Knives (this is a utensil but some boats will only have plastic silverware. You will want some realm knives for cutting during meal prep) 
  • Tongs (again, some boats will have these and others won’t. A good pair of tongs will help your cooking immensely over trying to flip things with a fork. 
  • Spatula (have you ever tried taking a fried egg out of a hot pain with a fork or spoon? Having at least one spatula on board is a must! 
  • Seasonings (this one is forgotten a lot. Make sure to take salt, pepper, nature’s seasoning, and whatever other spices or seasoning you normally use) 

You will of course want to make sure the boat has utensils, plates, cups, etc. before going but most boats will have some basic things. If they don’t have an exact list it’s better to take what you don’t need than to need something and it to be a hundred miles away at a store. 


That ends our roundup of what you need to pack for your houseboat trip or vacation. Packing some things is common sense but if you haven’t taken a vacation on a boat before there are probably some things that you won’t think of. 

Hopefully the categories and 75 examples listed above will help you pack everything that you need. The last thing you want to do in the middle of your vacation is have to dock your boat and go to the store because you forgot something important! 

As always, 

Happy boating 

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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