Every year, over 87 million U.S. adults participate in recreational boating, using these water vehicles for activities like fishing, water skiing, and travel. Traveling by plane, car, or train is effective, sure, but even the short 80-minute flight from Miami to the Caicos Islands can get old. There’s just something special about relaxing on the water during a trip — no matter the duration or destination.
Here are the five ways you can travel by boat:
- Cruise Ship — These boats are large passenger ships used for pleasure voyages, where the trip itself — as well as the amenities of the ship — are considered an essential part of the experience. There are so many cruise options available, allowing for travelers to sightsee in the Mediterranean, down the Danube river, and everywhere in-between.
- Freight Ship — Freight travel is much less crowded than a cruise — not to mention more affordable. Though you won’t be able to lounge by a pool or see a great show, you’ll comfortably reach your destination on a large and powerful ship. There will be plenty of large containers and industrial steel nearby, as five of the most common applications for stainless steel are lab equipment, jet engine parts, containers, food and pharmaceutical processing equipment, and boat fittings — but you’ll definitely reach your destination.
- Ferry — These boats come in a variety of sizes and carry passengers between ports on a set schedule. Ferry trips aren’t exactly for longterm travelers, but they are quite convenient for people trying to reach another port.
- Ocean Liner — Similar to cruise ships, ocean liners are large passenger ships, usually a motorized vessel, that undertake long voyages on the open sea. Where these boats differ from cruise ships, however, is that they are primarily for transporting people from one place (usually a country) to another — not just relaxing at sea.
- Small Crafts — No one is packing up their luggage and kayaking to Europe. But small boats are still extremely popular for recreational purposes and light travel. Small crafts can include both motor- and sail-powered vessels and are great for navigating rivers, canals, and lakes. Pontoon boats are some of the most popular and can be a lot of fun!
No matter how you’re moving across the water or where you are going, you have to know how to effectively pack. Thankfully, there are plenty of experienced boaters out there who would love to offer some advice to novice boaters like yourself. Here are some great boating tips for beginning boat enthusiasts:
- “Always overdress, you can always take clothing off and weather conditions on the water are usually different than on land.” — Dennis Rosen, a 50-year boater (40-year sailer).
- “Boating is fun but can be disorienting. Have a plan. Know your geographic landmarks, pay attention to headings, and be knowledgeable of your GPS functions.” — Joseph Medeiros, previous captain of TowBoatUS vessels and supervisor of VHF operations.
- “Be sure to bring lots of snacks and water. Everyone is happier (especially kids) when they are well fed and extra water aboard is never a bad idea.” — Susan Shingledecker, 30-years experience on small and large sailboats, kayaks, cruising, racing, and powerboats.
- “When it’s time for repairs on your boat, use marine-grade parts — they’ll last longer and in some places, like the engine, they’re necessary to prevent a dangerous condition.” — Charles Fort, sailing, powerboating, and kayaking since 1968.
Also, when you’re on a boat of any kind, try to ditch your phone for a little while and enjoy the breathtaking views and the peaceful water. Approximately 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24 hours a day. You should be enjoying your trip and not just texting people back on land.
Spend some time this week with your family planning your next trip. Instead of dealing with all the inconveniences of airline or car travel, consider taking a trip across the water — enjoy!