Canal Boat on a Budget. Is it possible?

It’s a common joke that the word ‘boat’ is an acronym for “break out another thousand”. Fortunately getting on a canal boat on a budget is quite easy to achieve. Regardless of your finances, provided you have a little spare, you’ll be able to have a great time. In this article, we are going to have a look at how you can get the most out of a ‘staycation’ on a canal boat, and offer some top tips as to how you can keep the price down.

Boating on a Budget, Why Do It?

First and foremost a canal boat holiday is an experience and the journey all rolled into one package. The boat itself is the entertainment. Other cheaper forms of holidaying include camping and caravanning, but where is the fun in pitching a tent?

A caravan, especially on a rainy day can be downright dismal. With a canal boat at the very worst, you can expect ever-changing scenery and at least some activity. You’ll have locks to navigate, challenging sections of a waterway to cruise around, and the ever-present probability of making some great friends along the way… And if it all gets too much, there is practically always a waterside pub just over the next lock!

You also can take a break. Your kitchen is literally five steps away. Head down into the cabin, pour a hot drink, and watch the world go by for half an hour, that’s about as cheap as it gets.

Due to Britain’s rich history as an industrial nation and its canals being an integral part of that, you should be able to find a canal boat for hire quite close to where you are located, so you’ll even save money on petrol!

Canal Boats Off Peak

A great thing about a canal boat holiday is that it is not really weather dependent. Sure you can go in the summer, and it is slightly warmer. But that said it is also really nice to take a cheaper narrowboat holiday in the ‘shoulder’ months. When are we talking? Book a budget canal boat holiday in March or October and you’ll make significant savings as it is far less busy. You’ll be able to enjoy autumnal colours or crisp clear mornings. Make a hot chocolate in the cabin below and get wrapped up and cosy before stopping for fireside Sunday dinner at a canalside pub.

No Need for New Clothes!

Because you already live in the climate, the chances are that you are already equipped to go boating, it requires no special clothes or equipment. You might want wet weather gear, but there’s always the option of just mooring up and waiting for the weather to pass if it gets a little heavy!

Share a Canal Boat Holiday

Do you know what’s better than a budget canal boat holiday? A budget canal boat holiday with friends! The hire rate is normally based per boat, not per person, so the more people that come, the less the cost! Aside from the cost being shared, you will also get the chance to share some memories, and that is priceless!

Bring a Four-Legged Friend

Ok, so we don’t mean use a horse to pull your boat (which is what they used to do back in the day and is the origin of the term ‘towpath’). We are of course talking about your dog. Most hire companies are open to dogs accompanying you on your voyage. This offers a significant saving when viewed against a kennel or cattery! You could expect to pay around £50 per day to house a dog in a kennel. By choosing a boating holiday you can reduce your budget significantly by having them along.

You Decide your Catering Costs on a Canal Boat Holiday

Self-catering holidays have always been less expensive. This is even more true when you can shop at your favourite supermarket. If you want to keep it to beans on toast then that is an option. Having your own kitchen for the duration of a trip means that you can go as lavish or budget as you wish.


The beauty of being on a canal boat on a budget is that you can tailor each individual cost without losing any of the value. Essentially it is all about being out on the water and having a great time. Anything you can add to that is a bonus and normally isn’t too expensive. If you are looking at booking a canal boat holiday our advice is this. Do it. You won’t regret it.

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