What to consider when planning a family paddling holiday!

What to consider when planning a family paddling holiday!

A family paddling holiday is a fabulous way to explore new places away from the crowds. Being away from all the noise you will find the space to talk and bond as a family, whilst being able to experience nature through your children’s eyes. To help you plan a magical and enriching family paddling holiday we’ve put together a list of things to consider.

Firstly, you will want to decide on the type of paddling activity your family would like to do. So get together one evening and ask yourselves whether you fancy a multi-day paddling trip or whether you fancy setting up a basecamp. Once you have made the family decision on the type of paddling holiday you fancy it is now time to pick where to go.

Finding your multi-day family paddling holiday route!

If doing a multi-day trip, you will want to consider whether you would like to explore a river, canal, a section of our beautiful coastline or through Scotland’s lochs. Of course, there is the possibility of doing multi-day trips that offer a variety of different waterways.

Other things we would recommend you consider when picking where to go for your multi-day trip:

  1. Whether the route you’ve chosen is within your family’s capabilities and suitable for the type of craft you will be paddling.
  2. You will want to think about how many days you will want to paddle for and how far each day.
  3. Check that the routes you plan to paddle are suitable for everyone in your group.
  4. You will need to consider how you are going to get to the starting point of your trip. And most importantly, how do you plan on getting back once finished.
  5. You’ll need to check to see if you require a waterways licence or permit. To check click here.
  6. Whether you will be able to carry your clothes and belongings with you. If camping, you’ll have to ensure there’s enough room for your tent and cooking equipment too.
  7. Whether there’s any local supermarkets along the route so you don’t have to worry about running out of food and drink. And of course lots of snacks!
  8. Look to see if there’s any family friendly places to eat out one evening to give you a break from having to cook.

Of course, if you find the thought of planning a multi-day paddling trip from scratch stressful then there’s plenty of companies offering multi-day paddling holidays suitable for families throughout the UK.

Finding your base camp!

If you decide on finding a base camp then you will want to make sure there is a variety of paddling options nearby. If you are looking for some inspiration on great locations then we would recommend reading our ‘Paddling holidays in England and staycation inspiration’ article. You can read this by clicking here.
As well as having a variety of paddling locations nearby, we would recommend you think about the following:

  1. Check whether the locations are within everyone’s paddling capabilities
  2. Check to see whether we have any paddling trails to help make planning your routes easy. Click here to find over 170 paddling trails.
  3. You’ll want to check whether any of the paddling locations require a waterways licence or permit. You can check by clicking here.
  4. If you are looking to hire your crafts and equipment then you can check to see where the nearest hire provider is by clicking here. Also, check to see if they offer guided trips, lessons and other experiences that your family might like to book.
  5. If taking your own crafts and equipment, think about where you are going to secure these. Especially overnight and other times you aren’t paddling. Paddle UK members can get craft insurance at a discounted rate. Learn more about craft insurance by clicking here.

If camping, glamping or caravaning you might want to think about the following before booking…

  1. If camping, glamping or caravanning then we would recommend making sure the site is family friendly. See if the site has a small adventure play park and spots around the site to encourage family activities. Look for places for ball games, kite flying and other fun activities kids love to do. Check to see if you are allowed to have a family BBQ or a small campfire to toast those marshmallows.
  2. Does the campsite have an onsite restaurant or are there places nearby? Remember if you are doing a multi-day trip you won’t have a car!
  3. Kids love variety so don’t forget to look for non-paddling activities that you can do as a family. Be sure to ask family and friends for recommendations or to check the area’s local tourist website.


Make sure that you are ready for your holiday, and have all the safety considerations in place. The last thing you want is your paddling holiday to come to an abrupt end by something that could have been prevented.

  1. Are your boats, boards, paddles, and PFD’s in good working condition?
  2. Do you have the skills and ability to rescue yourself or others in your family should they fall in the water?
  3. Has your family all got the ability to paddle the routes you have planned?
  4. Make sure you are up to date with all our safety guidance.

So there you have it. Our quick and simple guide to what we would recommend you consider to enable you to have a successful and enjoyable family paddling holiday.