5 Ways to Travel by Boat

When the temperatures rise, humans do three things. First, we complain about it. Then we get ice cream (go here for tips on ice cream treats around the world). Once we have those two obligations out of the way, we head to the water. And rightly so. Sitting on the beach or by the side of the pool is great, but what better way to explore a new place in the heat of summer than on a boat? If you’re on a margarita sipping, book reading, lounging in the sun kind of vacation, then don’t move. You’re doing it right. If, however, you want to combine water and sightseeing, you better don your scuba gear or hop on a boat. Here are a few options to suit travel tastes ranging from luxury retreat to wilderness adventure.

While a cruise has come to mean huge ships, bountiful buffets, a long list of extravagant distractions, and a week or two of luxury and ease, there are a plethora of cruises available to suit every type of traveler under the sun. So if you’re not the type of person to hang out at a pool on a boat in the middle of the ocean, no worries. With everything from river trips down the Danube to culinary cruises in the Mediterranean, you’ll find something to suit your taste whether you’re entertaining your three kids, partying with your college roommates, or getting in some alone time with your significant other. If you’re looking for a little adrenaline to go with your relaxation time, try a combo cruise like this one, which combines cycling and sailing around Greece.

If you think you have to know how to sail or be in possession of a lot of money to travel by sailboat, you’re mostly wrong. While it certainly doesn’t fall under “budget travel” to rent a boat or sign up for a yacht cruise, it’s not outrageously expensive. Especially if you go in on it with a few friends. You can rent a boat, hire a skipper, and call it a day. Or sign up for a sailing cruise. If both of those options sound a little pricey, but you’re still determined to sail … make friends with sailors. Join a community sailing club, take a few courses, and hire yourself out as a deckhand or cook. You won’t get to sit on the deck with a beer while enjoying the sunset, but you’ll be on a boat heading off into the horizon, and there’s something to be said for that.

The beauty of a kayaking trip is that it can be as long or as short as you want. You can opt for a casual outing with a sit-on-top or plan a more serious expedition with a slick sea kayak or a stubby whitewater boat. If using a kayak as a mode of transport isn’t really your thing, you can sign up for a day trip or rent a boat for an hour. If exploring the coast of Alaska, circumnavigating an island in Greece, or following the course of a river in New Zealand sounds like your kind of travel, there are numerous options with adventure travel companies, kayaking clubs, or–if you’re really feeling up to the challenge–organize your own trip.

The bus service of the high seas … or … placid lakes. Either way, a ferry is an excellent and inexpensive way to combine sightseeing and travel. Bring a jacket and a camera and stake out a spot in the open air at the front or back of the boat (bow and stern, if you will). Whether you’re visiting the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, catching a ride to Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay, or taking the three day trip from Bellingham, Washington to Haines, Alaska, a ferry is the budget traveler’s cruise ship. It’s not glamorous and it’s a little slow, but the ferry is a great way to cool down and leisurely enjoy the passing scenery.

Like an RV for the water. If you’re not interested in all the hullabaloo of a cruise ship and sailing sounds like too much work, you might be the perfect candidate for a houseboat. With all the creature comforts of home, you’ll be in the best position to enjoy the open water, clear skies, and hot weather. For added fun, rent a houseboat with a water slide.

By Nikki Hodgson

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