10 Tips For Taking Kids On A Family Sailing Holiday
Manning the sails and hoisting anchors may not sound like the most relaxing way to spend your annual leave, but a family yacht charter with children is increasingly a popular choice with families. Imagine the thrill of dropping anchor in a secluded bay and introducing your family to the wonders of the ocean, off the beaten path and away from the trappings of modern life. Here are a few handy tips and considerations to ensure that your family sailing holiday with children is as a stress-free as possible, allowing you to spend time savouring nature and quality time together.
Keep It Short and Sweet
The luxury of relaxing on the sundeck with cocktails or sailing for hours every day may be your idea of fun, but little ones may have other ideas. To keep things fun for everyone and to avoid meltdowns ensure that your sailing holiday itinerary has plenty of stops for swimming, beach trips and other onshore excursions. The cruise distance should also be kept fairly short when sailing with small children- avoid open seas and make the itinerary short and flexible, in case the weather turns sour.
Before you set foot on deck, sit down with all the participating members of the family and discuss the “do’s and don’ts” while onboard. Important points like following the instructions of the Captain, always wearing life vests, not playing with sailing equipment etc should be adhered to strictly so it is worth taking the time to ensure that all your children are able to understand and follow the rules. Ensure your family sailing holiday provider has jackets to fit all sizes, including for the children, toddlers and babies. Family sailing holidays involve a lot of exposure to the elements, so make sure the children have sunglasses, hats, sun cream, non-slippery shoes on board, and that they plenty of water to keep themselves hydrated. If you are traveling with kids below five, ensure that there is safety netting around the boat. Explain to them where the safety equipment is located and what to do in an emergency (your family sailing holiday provider should give you all of this information).
Family Sailing Holiday Packing Essentials
Trimming down the luggage on a sailing holiday with children is essential to make the journey hassle free and comfortable. Apart from the usual travel documents, here are the on-board essentials while cruising on the waters:
Sunglasses (the reflective glare from the water can be strong so this is important for everyone’s comfort)
Lightweight t-shirts and shorts for warm days
A zip-up waterproof jacket to keep off the windchill
Warm trousers for the evenings
Two swimsuits each (wear one while the other dries, and then switch over!)
Non-slippery rubber sole shoes
Pegs for drying clothes
A waterproof pack to keep electronics safe and dry
High factor sun cream
Travel games for keeping entertained in the evenings – here are our favourite travel toys for toddlers!
Encourage independence in children by asking them to help pack their own luggage, and to carry it wherever possible. A little backpack with the favourite teddy, toys, books and a digital device should be enough to keep busy on your first family sailing holiday.
Charter a boat and crew
Chartering a boat with crew is a relaxing way of enjoying a sailing holiday and is particularly recommended for families who want to test out a sailing holiday with children, with minimal stress. As someone else takes care of all the jibing and tacking you get ample time to paddle-board, snorkel, sunbathe or take part in other water-based activities with the family. This is an ideal way to discover a new place from the comfort of your floating hotel.
Try group sailing
A small group sailing trip is a wonderful option for those families who wish to sail and need not have to worry about the onboard responsibilities.These small group charters allow kids to make new friends from other families too, and parents can chat to like-minded holidaymakers. Your boat can drop anchor in small bays and harbours to allow guests to swim, snorkel, explore and dine together.
Sail in a Flotilla
Nothing can beat the exhilarating feeling of steering your own boat while on a Flotilla sailing holiday (several boats sailing in a group) with your family. A Flotilla is very much possible even if you have next to no experience in sailing, as the lead team of Skipper, Engineer and Host will brief you thoroughly and give you personal guidance along your route. As there are often close to twenty yachts sailing together, the Host arranges get-togethers where all the families get to meet and socialise.
Let The Kids Get Stuck In
Sailing from one destination to another may take several hours, so prepare children for these times. As WiFi won’t be available, ensure you bring plenty of small games and activities, colouring pencils and a device loaded with their favourite music, movies and TV shows. Inflatable toys are another good idea to bring along for splashing about when you are anchored. Older kids might like to be allowed to steer the boat from time to time, and even younger children can help parents clear the deck under supervision. Sailing holidays are excellent ways to get kids outside and engaging with nature, which has countless developmental benefits for children.
Keep Your First Aid Kit Stocked
Pharmacies may be available in most destinations but it is not a guarantee, so take a well-stocked first aid kit on board with you. Remember to include seasickness tablets, allergy care, aspirin and insect repellent to keep the bugs at bay in wilder areas. Sun lotion and after-sun is also essential for keeping protected from the heat- find out more about the importance of sun protection here.
Bring The Kids’ Favourite Foods
It’s alway’s tricky finding things that children want to try in a new place, and this can be a challenge on family sailing holidays. If you are traveling in a Flotilla or on a hired yacht make sure there are plenty of child friendly options available, as the kids may not take an instant liking to the local specialities. Most harbours will have a mini market or a bakery from where you can do your food shopping and stock up on things little ones are guaranteed to eat. Being out on the water works up an appetite, so ensure that there are enough snacks to keep everyone satisfied, especially on the longer passages.
Maximise The Space
While every boat may not be able to provide separate cabins for children, there are other ways to give them a bit of independence. A sailing dinghy is just perfect to hop on to if the kids need a bit of space and independence. If you can afford to get an extra cabin on your boat, it’s worth the investment to give everyone a bit more space- being together 24/7 can get a bit much for even the most relaxed families, so the more space the better!
A sailing holiday with children, if properly planned in advance, can turn out to be a wonderful and exhilarating experience for all on board. Living, working and playing together on a boat provides a rare environment and opportunity to bond and make unforgettable memories. There’s no doubt that family sailing holidays with children involve a bit more planning and effort than the traditional beach holiday, but it is well worth it. At the end you will be left with nothing but sweet memories and a boat full of happy, exhausted and more confident youngsters!