How to Plan a Boat Trip.

How to Plan a Boat Trip

Written by Kim Kavin
August 28, 2023

Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

There’s a saying among boaters that underpins every trip they plan: You can start or end where you want, and you can leave or arrive when you want, but you can’t always do both.

Watch the weather

Weather radar.

When planning a boat trip, it’s important to understand that you and your guests will be in Mother Nature’s house. It doesn’t matter whether you’re heading out on the boat for a day, a week, or a month: Respect for the weather comes first.

If you have your heart set on arriving at, say, a particular waterfront restaurant, then you have chosen the “where.” The “when” will depend on factors such as wind, current, and any rain in the forecast, all of which can delay you by minutes, hours, or longer.

READ MORE: Dock and Dine Basics- 7 Tips for Success


Similarly, if you’re on a long-distance cruise and want to end in Florida on a certain day, you have chosen the “when.” But cruising conditions en route, you may end up having to make that landfall farther north in a place like Jacksonville, as opposed to farther south in the Venice of America, or as others call it Fort Lauderdale. The “where” becomes more of a variable.


Boat navigation compass.

The next step, after understanding the general parameters of where you want to go on your boat trip, is taking a good, long look at a chart. You can lay eyes on a paper or an electronic chart, but either way, you want to familiarize yourself with where you’re going.

Make a note of any bridges you’ll have to contend with and note whether they open on a schedule or on demand. Check out the tide tables to see if there are easier or harder times of day to follow your chosen route.

Make any reservations you need to make at marinas along the way. In general, have a solid understanding of where you’re going before you set off to get there.

READ MORE: 7 Mindful Practices that Make Good Marina Etiquette

Boat maintenance

Boat inspection.

After that, the next step when planning a boat trip is ensuring the boat is in good working order. Luckily boats on peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms like Boatsetter undergo a vetting process to ensure safety and the best experience possible.

Still, it can’t hurt to be cautious, check all the equipment in the engine room, make sure power systems are fully charged, and triple-check gear such as personal flotation devices and first-aid kits. The last thing you want is to get underway on your boat trip and be unprepared in case of a problem.

What to pack

Packing for boat trip.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you have all the essentials you need for your boat trip— Is there enough water for everyone? Enough ice to keep it cold in the cooler? How about snacks? Towels? Hats? Sunscreen? These things may sound small and easy to “remember,” but are often forgotten. Feel free to use the checklist we’ve created when packing for your boat trip:

  • Sunscreen (at least 30 SPF)
  • Drinking water (Keep in mind pets if you plan on bringing them aboard.)
  • Towels
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra change of clothes

Avoid forgetting or overpacking: Check the boat listing for Add-ons like a cooler/ice chest, ice, snorkeling gear, and more!

Have fun!

Last but not least, get into the right mindset for your boat trip. Yes, it’s a bit of work to ensure everything is ready to go, but boating is supposed to be fun when it comes down to it. Start your boat trip with a smile, and get out there and enjoy the journey.

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