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What To Bring On A Boat Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Noemi Connelly



A boat trip can be an exciting and enjoyable experience, whether you’re planning a day out on the lake or embarking on a multi-day adventure at sea. However, to ensure a safe and comfortable journey, it’s important to pack the right essentials. Knowing what to bring on a boat trip can make all the difference in terms of convenience, preparedness, and overall enjoyment.


Before setting sail, it’s crucial to consider a few key factors. Firstly, the duration and location of your trip will play a role in determining the necessary items to pack. Additionally, the type and size of the boat, as well as the activities planned, should also be taken into account. By planning ahead and packing thoughtfully, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free sailing experience.


In this article, we’ll cover a comprehensive list of items to bring on a boat trip. From safety equipment and navigation tools to personal items, food and beverages, and even entertainment options, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a first-time boat adventurer, consider this your go-to guide for packing essentials and making the most of your boat trip.


Safety Equipment

When it comes to boating, safety should always be your number one priority. It’s crucial to have the right safety equipment on board, regardless of the size or type of boat you’re sailing on. Here are some essential safety items to bring on a boat trip:

  • Life Jackets: Ensure that you have enough life jackets for every person on board, and that they are the appropriate size and fit. Life jackets should be easily accessible and worn by everyone, especially when out on the open water.
  • Throwable Flotation Device: A throwable flotation device, such as a ring buoy or a throwable cushion, is essential for emergencies and can be used to assist someone in the water.
  • Fire Extinguisher: It’s important to have a functioning fire extinguisher on board to quickly extinguish any potential fires. Check the expiry date and ensure it is easily accessible in case of an emergency.
  • First Aid Kit: A well-stocked first aid kit is a must-have on any boat trip. It should include band-aids, antiseptic ointment, adhesive tape, gauze pads, and any necessary medications or personal medical supplies.
  • Flares and Distress Signals: In case of an emergency, have flares or other distress signals on hand to attract attention and signal for help.
  • Navigation Lights: Ensure that your boat has functioning navigation lights, especially if you’ll be sailing at night. These lights are crucial for visibility and to comply with boating regulations.
  • Anchor and Rope: An anchor and rope are essential for stopping and securing your boat when needed. Make sure the anchor is appropriate for the size and type of boat you’re using.

Remember, having the right safety equipment is vital, but equally important is knowing how to use it. Familiarize yourself with the operation and location of each safety item on your boat. Additionally, it’s wise to take a boating safety course to further enhance your knowledge and skills.


Navigation and Communication

Proper navigation and communication tools are essential for a successful and safe boat trip. These items will help you navigate your way on the water and stay connected with others, should the need arise. Here are some key navigation and communication items to bring on a boat trip:

  • GPS or Chartplotter: A GPS or chartplotter is a vital tool for navigating on the water. It provides accurate positioning, route planning, and can help you avoid potential hazards.
  • Marine VHF Radio: A marine VHF radio is the primary means of communication on the water. Make sure you have a properly functioning radio and familiarize yourself with the operating channels and distress signals.
  • Compass: A compass is a traditional navigation tool that can help you determine your heading and track your course. It’s a reliable backup option in case electronic navigation systems fail.
  • Charts and Maps: Carry up-to-date nautical charts and maps of the area you’ll be sailing in. These will provide valuable information about the water depth, currents, and potential hazards.
  • Binoculars: Binoculars can help you see objects and landmarks in the distance, aiding in navigation and enhancing safety.
  • Whistle or Horn: A whistle or horn is a required signaling device and can be used to communicate with other vessels or in emergency situations.

Having reliable navigation and communication tools is essential, but it’s equally important to know how to use them effectively. Familiarize yourself with these devices and practice using them before your boat trip. Additionally, always check the weather conditions and consult navigational charts to ensure a safe journey.


Personal Items

When heading out on a boat trip, it’s important to bring personal items that will keep you comfortable and prepared for various situations. Here are some personal items to consider packing:

  • Identification and Documentation: Carry your personal identification, boat registration, and any necessary permits or licenses.
  • Money and Wallet: Bring cash, credit cards, or a debit card for any expenses you may encounter during your trip.
  • Mobile Phone and Charger: Keep your mobile phone handy for communication and emergencies. Ensure it is fully charged and consider bringing a portable charger.
  • Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that is resistant to water and has a high SPF.
  • Personal Medications: If you take any medications regularly, be sure to bring an ample supply for the duration of your trip.
  • Personal Floatation Devices (PFD): In addition to the required life jackets, you may want to bring inflatable PFDs or swim floats for added comfort in the water.
  • Toiletries: Carry essential toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and any other personal care items you may need.
  • Towels: Pack towels for drying off after swimming or if you encounter rainy weather.

It’s a good idea to pack personal items in waterproof bags or containers to keep them dry and protected from water exposure. Additionally, consider the storage space available on the boat and pack accordingly.


Lastly, don’t forget to pack any personal items that will enhance your enjoyment on the trip, such as a camera to document your adventures, books or magazines for leisurely reading, or binoculars for wildlife spotting. These personal touches can greatly enhance your overall experience.


Clothing and Accessories

Choosing the right clothing and accessories for your boat trip can make a significant difference in your comfort and enjoyment. Here are some essential items to consider packing:

  • Swimsuits and Cover-ups: If swimming is part of your plan, pack swimsuits and cover-ups for both men and women.
  • Quick-drying Towels: Opt for quick-drying towels that are compact and easy to carry.
  • Protective Clothing: Wear lightweight and breathable clothing that provides protection from the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats.
  • Rain Gear: Be prepared for unexpected showers by bringing waterproof jackets, pants, and waterproof footwear.
  • Boat Shoes: Choose non-slip, closed-toe shoes with good traction to ensure safety and stability on board.
  • Socks: Pack extra pairs of socks, including wool or synthetic ones, as they are less prone to getting wet and can help keep your feet warm.
  • Layers: Bring a variety of clothing layers to adjust for changing weather conditions, such as lightweight sweaters, jackets, and sweatshirts.
  • Sun Hats and Sunglasses: Protect your face and eyes from the sun with wide-brimmed hats and polarized sunglasses.
  • Gloves: If you’ll be participating in water activities, consider bringing gloves for added grip and protection.
  • Dry Bags: Keep your clothing and accessories dry by storing them in waterproof dry bags.

Remember to pack appropriate clothing for the specific activities you’ll engage in during your boat trip. It’s also a good idea to pack extra clothing in case of unexpected weather changes or emergencies.


By packing clothing and accessories that are suitable for the environment and activities, you’ll ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience during your boat trip.


Food and Beverages

Food and beverages are an important aspect of any boat trip, ensuring that you stay nourished and hydrated throughout your journey. Here are some considerations when it comes to packing food and beverages:

  • Water: Bring an ample supply of drinking water to stay hydrated, especially if you’ll be spending a lot of time under the sun. Consider using reusable water bottles or portable water filters.
  • Non-Perishable Snacks: Pack a variety of non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, and nuts. These will provide quick and easy energy during the trip.
  • Meals and Ingredients: Plan and pack your meals in advance. Opt for meals that are easy to prepare and require minimal cooking equipment. Pre-cut fruits, sandwiches, wraps, and salads are great choices.
  • Cooler and Ice: If you have perishable food items, bring a cooler filled with ice to keep them fresh. This will also allow you to enjoy cold beverages throughout the trip.
  • Cooking Utensils: Pack essential cooking utensils such as a portable stove, pots, pans, plates, cutlery, and a can opener if needed.
  • Coffee and Tea: If you’re a coffee or tea lover, bring your preferred brewing equipment, coffee beans, tea bags, and any necessary condiments.
  • Trash Bags: Dispose of trash properly by packing enough trash bags and ensure they are securely sealed to prevent littering.
  • Sea Sickness Remedies: If you’re prone to motion sickness, consider bringing remedies such as seasickness bands or medication.

When packing food and beverages, consider the storage space on your boat and any specific dietary restrictions or preferences of your crew members. It’s also advisable to bring extra supplies in case of unforeseen circumstances or delays.


Remember to follow proper food safety guidelines, keeping perishable items properly stored and avoiding cross-contamination. By planning and packing your food and beverages thoughtfully, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious and satisfying meals while on your boat trip.


Entertainment and Recreation

While enjoying your boat trip, it’s important to have options for entertainment and recreation to make the most of your time on the water. Here are some items to consider bringing for entertainment:

  • Water Toys: If you’ll be swimming or anchored in calm waters, consider bringing inflatable rafts, water floats, paddleboards, or snorkeling gear to enhance your aquatic experience.
  • Fishing Gear: If fishing is part of your plan, bring along fishing rods, tackle, and bait. Check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits or licenses.
  • Deck of Cards or Board Games: Keep yourself entertained during calm evenings or downtime with a deck of cards or compact travel-sized board games.
  • Books or E-Readers: Take advantage of the serene atmosphere and bring along your favorite books or e-reader to enjoy some leisurely reading.
  • Music and Speakers: Create a lively ambiance on board by bringing portable speakers and a playlist of your favorite tunes.
  • Camera or GoPro: Capture your boat trip memories with a camera or GoPro to document the beautiful scenery and exciting moments.
  • Binoculars: Spot wildlife, boats, or points of interest with a pair of binoculars, adding an element of exploration to your journey.

It’s important to balance relaxation and entertainment during your boat trip. Enjoy the tranquility of being on the water, soak in the breathtaking views, and engage in activities that align with your interests and the environment you’re in.


Remember to respect and follow any guidelines or rules concerning recreational activities in the area where you’ll be boating. Be mindful of the impact of your actions on the marine life and ecosystem.


By bringing along entertainment and recreational items, you’ll ensure a fun-filled and memorable experience aboard your boat trip.


Emergency Supplies

Even with thorough planning and preparation, emergencies can still occur during a boat trip. It’s essential to be prepared with the right emergency supplies to handle unexpected situations. Here are some items to consider including in your emergency kit:

  • First Aid Kit: Ensure your first aid kit is well-stocked with items such as bandages, antiseptic ointment, adhesive tape, gauze pads, tweezers, and any necessary medications.
  • Emergency Flotation Devices: In addition to life jackets, consider having emergency flotation devices such as inflatable rafts or floatable cushions in case of a water evacuation.
  • Emergency Blankets: Pack emergency blankets to provide warmth in case of exposure to cold or wet conditions.
  • Emergency Signaling Devices: Bring signaling devices such as a whistle, air horn, or mirror to attract attention in case of distress or need for assistance.
  • Flashlights and Extra Batteries: Have a couple of reliable flashlights with extra batteries for visibility in low-light conditions or emergencies during the night.
  • Tool Kit: Include a basic tool kit with items like a utility knife, screwdriver, pliers, and duct tape for minor repairs or improvisation.
  • Bilge Pump or Manual Bailers: Have the necessary tools to handle water ingress, such as a bilge pump or manual bailers to remove excess water from the boat.
  • Fire Extinguisher: A functioning fire extinguisher is essential to quickly mitigate and extinguish any onboard fires.
  • EPIRB or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Consider bringing an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to transmit distress signals and your exact location to rescue authorities.

Keep your emergency supplies well-organized and easily accessible in case of an emergency. It’s also crucial to familiarize yourself with the usage and operation of each item in your emergency kit before setting sail.


Additionally, establishing an emergency communication plan with your crew members and informing someone on land about your trip details can further enhance safety and facilitate assistance if needed.


Remember, prevention is key. Prioritize safety practices, maintain situational awareness, and adhere to boating regulations to minimize the chances of emergencies during your trip.


Miscellaneous Items

Aside from the essential categories mentioned earlier, there are a few miscellaneous items that can enhance your boat trip experience. While these items may not be crucial for safety or survival, they can certainly add convenience and enjoyment. Here are some miscellaneous items to consider packing:

  • Sunshade or Umbrella: A sunshade or umbrella can provide relief from intense sun exposure and create a shaded area on the boat.
  • Insect Repellent: If you’ll be navigating through areas with mosquitoes or other insects, pack insect repellent to protect yourself from bites and irritation.
  • Trash Bags: Bring extra trash bags to dispose of waste properly and maintain a clean and tidy boat environment.
  • Portable Grill or BBQ: If grilling is part of your boat trip plan, consider bringing a portable grill or BBQ to cook delicious meals on deck.
  • Cooler: Besides storing perishable food, a cooler can come in handy for keeping beverages cold throughout your trip.
  • Extra Batteries: Pack spare batteries for any electronic devices or equipment that you rely on, such as flashlights or navigational tools.
  • Dry Bags: Keep personal items such as phones, cameras, or spare clothes dry by storing them in waterproof dry bags.
  • Navigation Logbook: Keep a navigation logbook to record important details such as routes, weather conditions, and any notable events during your trip.

These miscellaneous items can enhance comfort, convenience, and functionality during your boat trip. It’s always a good idea to double-check your packing list to ensure you’ve included everything you need for a smooth and enjoyable journey.


Remember to consider the limitations of the boat’s storage space and weight capacity when packing miscellaneous items. It’s important to prioritize the essentials and avoid overloading the boat.


By considering and packing these miscellaneous items, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your boat trip and create wonderful memories on the water.



Planning and packing for a boat trip can greatly impact your overall experience. By ensuring you have the right essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for the journey ahead, whether it’s a short day trip or a longer expedition. Remember to prioritize safety by bringing the necessary safety equipment, such as life jackets, navigation tools, and communication devices.


Personal items such as identification, medications, and sun protection will contribute to your comfort and well-being. Clothing appropriate for the weather conditions, as well as entertainment and recreation items, will help you enjoy your time on the water to the fullest. The food and beverages you bring should provide nourishment and hydration, while emergency supplies will give you peace of mind in case of unforeseen events.


By packing miscellaneous items, you can add convenience and enjoyment to your boat trip, ensuring a pleasant and memorable experience. Remember to pack thoughtfully, considering the limitations of your boat’s storage space and weight capacity.


Ultimately, a well-prepared and well-packed boat trip allows you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of the water, whether you’re navigating a serene lake or exploring the vastness of the open sea. So, gather your essentials, set sail with confidence, and create unforgettable moments on your next boat trip.