Packing for your Houseboat Trip

You’ve just decided to plan a houseboat trip with your friends and family! You’ve picked out the lake, the houseboat and have chosen dates for your trip. Now, it’s time to pack! It’s important to know what you’ll need to bring on the trip so you can enjoy your vacation without hitting any bumps in the road. During your stay, you’ll be busy drifting across the cool lake water and won’t want to have to run back to the marina for supplies. Below, our packing list lets you know what to bring as well as providing some traveler’s tips to help you make the most of your houseboating get-away!


  • Bathroom: Soap, Shampoos, Razors, Toothpaste - Bring all the essentials you’ll need for showering and daily grooming. Biodegradable soap is best since it’s going to be washed into the lake when you’re done. Amenities on a houseboat do include small size soaps and shampoos.
  • Medication: Don’t forget to include Tylenol and other medications you might need.
  • Sunscreen & Aloe Vera: The days will be hot and sunny! Don’t forget to bring enough sunscreen to last your crew the whole trip. It’s best to bring some Aloe Vera along as well for any sun burnt shoulders or nose.
  • Sunglasses & Hats: Protect yourself from the sun with 1-2 pairs of sunglasses and a hat. It’s always best to bring extra in case one goes missing!
  • Bug Spray: Don’t let friends and family be pestered by gnats and mosquitoes! Bring bug spray and insect repellant to keep your skin bug free.
  • Flashlights: Lakes can be dark at night. Bring enough flashlights (and extra batteries!) in case you need to tie the boat up late at night or just want an extra light to guide you on your way to the bathroom.
  • Allergy Medication: If any of your travelling companions suffer from allergies, look into what sort of allergens are in the area where you’ll be staying.
  • Water Shoes: Protect your feet while swimming in the lake with a pair of water shoes.
  • Candles, Butane Lighters & Lanterns: Make sure to pack some extra lighting gear. You may be eating late some nights and don’t want to have to serve dinner in the dark!


  • Clothing: When it comes to clothing, less is more! Pack 2-3 bathing suits, and a couple pairs of shorts, t-shirts, and sturdy flip flops. Make sure you bring long-sleeved clothing for chilly nights, and it’s always good to pack some waterproof clothing as well!
  • Music Players: You’ll want to play some music while you’re relaxing on the houseboat with your friends! Bring radios, iPods, and speakers, but make sure to check if your electrical outlets will be compatible or if you’ll need to pack an adaptor.
  • Camera & Batteries: You’ll want to take plenty of pictures during your trip! Make sure your camera has plenty of memory and don’t forget to pack the battery charger! Also, storing your camera in a waterproof container or ziplock bag may help prevent it from any water damage that could occur. Consider underwater, disposable cameras! It can be fun to relive your vacation all over again once you’ve gotten your photos developed since you won’t have the time to scrolled through them over and over again during your vacation.
  • Blow dryer: If you’ve got long hair and like to blow dry it after your shower, make sure to pack your own blow dryer for the trip.
  • Games: Puzzles, board games, and cards are great pass times for large groups.
  • Waterproof Fanny Packs: Consider storing your wallet and money in a waterproof fanny pack or other container.


  • Ice: Most people find it’s best to use a mixture of dry and regular ice. Dry ice can keep your food frozen longer and it keeps the rest of the ice from melting too quickly.
  • Cooler: It’s best to bring a large, sturdy cooler for your trip. Foam coolers don’t last quite as long. It’s best to plan out your meals in advance so you’ll know exactly what food you will need to buy and how it will fit in the cooler.
  • Pre-Made Meals: You may want to consider pre-making meals in large trays and freezing them. Just be warned that the ovens on houseboats aren’t always as large as ones at home.
  • Condiments: You’ll need to bring your own Salt, Pepper, Cooking Spices, Butter, Cooking Oils, and Salad Dressing.
  • Coffee & Cream/Sugar: Coffee isn’t provided on most houseboats. Be sure to pack some pre-ground coffee, or some pitchers and iced tea packets.
  • Aluminum Foil & Large Ziplock Bags: Make sure you bring the essentials for wrapping and storing your leftovers!


  • Life Jackets/Ski Vests: Make sure to bring along floaties for young ones and ski vests for those who wish to participate in watersports.
  • Rafts: Don’t forget to bring inflatable tubes and rafts so you can enjoy lazy days floating atop the cool, blue lake!
  • Beach Towels: You can never have enough of these!
  • Hiking Shoes & Camelbaks: Don’t forget to pack all the essential hiking gears you’ll need to protect your feet and to keep you hydrated!
  • Fishing Pole & Tackle Box: Fishermen should bring plenty of gear!
  • Binoculars: Don’t forget to bring binoculars you can take with you on hikes. You can see many different types of birds and wildlife while enjoying your houseboat vacation!


When travelling with a large group, it’s always best to coordinate certain items. Houseboats can be cramped, so the less clutter, the better. You’ll rarely need more than one blow dryer or tackle box per group. It’s best to assign these items to different group members and then share for the duration of your trip.

Coordinating is also helpful when it comes to meals! You’ll want to be sure you bring condiments, but not everyone needs to bring along a container of salt and pepper. Decide who will bring what before you embark on your trip. It may also work out well to assign different group members a certain night’s meal or agree on a menu beforehand!

The better prepared for your trip you are, the more likely you are to have a fun and stress free houseboat vacation. Make out a list, pack up your gear, and coordinate with your group members. Before you know it, you’ll be setting off to find a quiet, cozy alcove to drop anchor in!

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