Looking for the getaway of a lifetime? What would the best ingredients be? For most people it would be a mix of elements, each getting different weight, based on the individual. For most folks, the list would include some of these items: adventure, relaxation, exploring new places, experiencing new activities, family time, time with friends, a change from the mundane routine, a trip that creates memories and options for everyone joining in on the adventure.
Admittedly, that’s a pretty tall order, but guess what. We have an idea; in fact, a tried and true idea. Check this out. Recently we went to Europe with two of our children (in their 20s and 30s) and another friend. For our two children, it was their first time in Europe. It was the ideal way to go for many reasons.
This could of course add up to a costly trip, but it wasn’t. When we took our Locaboat trip, we booked our airline tickets off season for great rates. We’ve gotten rates to Europe off season as low as $299 per person. The next largest expense is typically lodging. With Locaboat, weekly rentals vary from as low as $1,000 per week for up to five people during the shoulder seasons, to as high as $5,000 for a boat that can sleep up to 12 on a peak week. That’s a range of $200-$416 per person per week! Heck, you could only get the cheapest, seedy hotel for that rate. The next highest expense is food, and guess what? Your Locaboat has a fully equipped kitchen!
Europe is great, especially for first timers. And what do you want to see in Europe? Mostly historical stuff, like thousand-year-old castles, cathedrals and villages. Well, a thousand years ago travel and trade were done on waterways, supplemented today by canals built a few hundred years ago. Most things you want to see are right there. Other sites are in direct view, or a short walk away from where you park the boat.
Yes, you can have adventure and relaxation at the same time. Imagine peacefully gliding all along the smooth waterways, no noises beyond birds chirping in the valley. Your scenery is vineyards, old stone buildings, castles, fortresses, farms and sublime beauty. Typically one person at the helm, one occasionally helping with navigating by looking at a map, others lounging and snapping photos. It sure beats sitting on a bus or train or driving on a highway.
Exploring new places
Imagine literally seeing several charming villages, taking your floating hotel room with you. No constant packing and unpacking. Your choice is not city A versus city B; you select from choices that span dozens of regions in several countries. We’ve done many and can’t choose our favorite, all were great.
Experiencing something new
Never driven a boat? No problem. These are literally like floating bumper cars and only go about 12 knots. Similar to a medium brisk pace on a bicycle. Experienced boaters will handle the parking quicker but it’s really not that hard and they train you as much as needed. Marina folks are also helpful. Learning the simple rules of the road, or canal, as it were, is quick and easy as is the navigation maps which have far fewer decisions to make than driving. We all enjoyed turns at piloting and navigating as well as experiencing going through locks and under bridges. And, of course, Europe in general is something new to many.
Time for family and friends
Exploring together, navigating together, cooking meals and dining together is great. And when a little quiet time is needed, we each had our own cabin and bathroom, or with our 15-meter (56-foot) boat, there was always a spot on the top deck, or bow or stern to peacefully sit and contemplate the scenery.
This time, we went to the south of France on the Canal du Midi. The locks were operated by lock keepers, so it was simple. Our sights included better known villages such as Carcassonne (the fortress city Charlemagne couldn’t conquer via siege) and countless small villages of perhaps a population of 100 or so, vineyards galore, and mid size towns, each with a bakery, thousand-year-old churches and various histories. We are already daydreaming of our next region and itinerary.
Every Locaboat comes with a full stocked kitchen with oven, stove, refrigerator, cutlery, pots and pans, etc., as well as basic bedding, linens and towels and a dining area, often one indoors and other outside. A variety of configurations vary with up to five bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, some with both indoor and outdoor piloting, and accommodations of up to 12 people. All told, there are about two dozen sizes and configurations and more than a dozen regions in five countries including France, Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland and Germany.
Check out the options in advance such as renting bicycles for the week, getting basic food provisions to start, WiFi, and a comprehensive pack that covers all insurance, fuel, and cleaning. Candidly share your interests with the local staff and create the ideal itinerary with the experts. Bring your mobile phone and get a Europe plan. It can help with navigating, and you can always call the staff at the marina — they seem to know every inch of the route as well as the boat. If you don’t need to work around school schedules, go when school is in session. You’ll save on the airlines and rental fees and have fewer crowds.
For more information, check out our video and photo library at RecreationNews.com, searching for this as well as other canal boat stories. Visit locaboat.com for your easy-to-download brochure, destinations, boat floor plans, rates and itineraries. Book today and begin your dreaming. Bon voyage!