How To Pick The Right Houseboat Rental For You

March 2015 Feature Web Exclusive

Picking the right houseboat rental can be like selecting the perfect breakfast cereal…

“Okay,” you argue, “breakfast cereal is a lot cheaper and kind of on a different playing field than a houseboat.” But the principle of matching your choice to what your family or friends need and want is the same—everyone has their own personal tastes and expectations. And when your kids, spouse, or friends are unhappy with the rental selection, trust us that you will be unhappy before long, too. And when you’re supposed to be relaxing on vacation, too—gasp!

If you still don't agree it's like picking out cereal, well, I did say "can" as a sort of caveat, so there you go.

There are a few different factors to consider here, and the first thing that must be said is to set the budget you want and honor it. No matter how fun the week is on a pricier rental, you’ll be kicking yourself once vacation is over and you have to deal with juggling finances to accommodate a bigger expense than you planned for.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot for the houseboat you really want—if you’re dying to try out a newer luxury model or you want to extend your vacation by a few more days, just check out the specials that are offered by different rental places. Sometimes it’s worth tweaking your vacation schedule if it means you can get in a longer stay or a bigger houseboat with more amenities out of the deal.

Another thing to consider is what size of boat you’re after. Depending on how many family members or friends you have coming along, this could vary from a few select couples to, well, a boatload of people. Many rentals have a recommended sleeping amount and a max sleeping capacity, so keep in mind what your guests are like and how comfortable they are sharing. If everyone gets along great and no one will have a cow when they don’t get a master bedroom, great! But if some people really need more privacy or space to feel comfortable, consider a bigger model with more rooms.

Ask yourself—and everyone in your party—what destination you want as well. Are you into wrapping yourselves in peaceful seclusion or mooring somewhere near hot cities, day shopping, and fancy restaurants? Don’t rule out foreign destinations at face value—some houseboat rentals in more exotic locations have deals that might really surprise you, though you will have to factor plane ticket prices into the equation. For ideas, consider checking out H2olidays or Le Boats, highlighted back in February. Again, it all comes down to what’s worth it to you and how much you’re willing to happily save to cash in on the experience. Once you find that happy medium, you’ll truly be set.

Don’t forget to think about what amenities you’ll need or expect to find onboard. Some houseboats are more simply stocked, with things like bed linens and kitchen utensils, while others are definitely on the luxury end with hot tubs and satellite TV. Evaluate the needs of your fellow vacationers and compare your list with the rental company’s. If you’re planning on doing a lot of fishing and grilling some fresh bass or trout, make sure your rental includes a grill. Likewise, if you have diehard coffee drinkers or movie watchers, double-check that you have the kitchen appliances and electronics you’ll need—or bring what isn’t already provided.

Don’t forget that in the rental houseboating world, the early bird will always, always gets the worm, unless a tragic mishap strikes the competition and they can't go anymore. But don't bank on that happening. Plan early so you can reserve your spot ahead of time and make sure you nail the rental you’ve had your eye on.  

And, in the end, you can always check out all the reviews people have written about different rental companies and models. It's always insightful to get the advice of someone who's been there before and has a thing or two to openly praiseor critique—about the entire experience.

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