Ever wondered what a week long sailing trip really looks like? How do the toilets work? What’s showering like? Well I’m here to explain what to expect on your first sailing trip. De-mystify the whole process and prove that sailing isn’t just for seamen! Plus, I’ll share a little bit of wisdom about what to pack, dos and don’ts and hopefully convince you that this is in fact the best way to holiday.
I recently spent a week sailing off the southern coast of Sri Lanka with G Adventures, but it wasn’t my first rodeo. Since discovering this kind of holiday, I can’t get enough and wish I’d known about them sooner! Everything is saved in the ‘Sri Lanka’ story highlights on my Instagram feed if you want to see the trip in action.
A lot of people find it difficult to imagine being at sea every night for a week and the logistics of things when you aren’t on solid ground. It’s actually really simple though, let me give you a better idea.
My first G Adventures trip was sailing from Dubrovnik in Croatia to Montenegro for a week last summer. Not knowing what to expect, I followed the packing list they provided when I signed up for the tour and armed with the location of the meet up point I set off in search of the group. As with most of my trips, I was travelling alone. I like the flexibility and safety that travelling solo (meaning without anyone else that I know) as part of an organised tour group provides you with. Everyone is on the same wavelength and there for similar reasons. There were three other singles in the group and one couple, we met our CEO (chief experience officer, or tour guide) and set off to find the boat. Same in Sri Lanka, we all met at a hotel then took tuk tuks organised by G to the marina. So far, so straight forward.
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So I’ve only gone and done my first ever voiceover! Been toying with the idea of adding some script over this recent video from my @gadventures sailing trip in Montenegro 🇲🇪 Absolutely cringing at the sound of my own voice, but who doesn’t 🤷🏽♀️ Would LOVE some feedback, stick your sound on there…have a listen and let me know what you think 🔊 #thedailyselftravels #MyBestinTravelComp
What to pack for a week long sailing trip
In a nutshell, less shoes and more swimwear than you think you’ll need. Extra suncream and very little in the way of make up or hair stuff. Within the first 24 hours, you’ll totally acclimatise and get into the laid back swing of things, caring less and less about how you look as the week goes on.
It’s recommended you use soft shell luggage when sailing, because space on board is limited. I usually go for a duffel on wheels, backpacks work too, just not a hard case that can’t be squished into a cubby.
You won’t wear shoes on board and a lot of beach stops won’t require footwear either. Check your itinerary in case there’s any hiking involved so you know what to bring. Otherwise, the Salt Water sandals below are a great shout, they’re waterproof leather so you can even keep them on getting in and out of the dinghy. That’s the small inflatable rubber boat that’ll ferry you to and from land when you’re not at a dock. Things can get very splashy, so I’d recommend a water resistant bag or at least a backpack cover. But for swimming to land you’ll need a dry bag that keeps important bits like your phone and wallet safe in the sea (they’re water tight and float when closed because of the air inside). Floating cords for other valuable like keys or sunglasses are essential too…
Sun protection sprays will be pretty much useless with the breeze at sea and can make the deck slippery, so stick with lotions. P20 is great for long days in the sun, but I’d always still reapply. Don’t forget your lips and hair need SPF too! Luckily, you won’t find too many mozzies with that sea breeze, but choose an after sun with insect repellent for sunsets on the beach. Polarized sunnies are essench if you don’t want to spend the week squinting at the glare from the ocean and visibility will be much better for whale and dolphin watching. I’ve included Maybelline Brow Tattoo below because it’s pretty much the only “make up” I wore all week (it’s more of a semi-permanent brow tint).
Bigger and newer boats have regular electrical sockets (bring a universal travel adaptor), some smaller and older boats may require car chargers (cigarette lighter type) for the 12V outlets in order to charge devices. I’ve never seen anyone attempt to use a hairdryer on board, it just isn’t that kind of trip.
The 53ft catamaran G Adventures use on their Sri Lanka sailing trips is pretty much brand new, so has all the mod cons including both fans and A/C in the cabins. Speaking of which, lets chat a bit about accommodation..
Where do you sleep on a sailing trip?
Catamarans are really spacious, there are cabins in each of the hulls. I’m only 5ft 4, so space isn’t usually a problem. If you’re really tall, things might be a little bit more cramped but there’s always the option of kipping outside too, which you should try at least once. Sleeping under the stars, waking up with the sun rise, does it get more romantic? Our rooms all had their own en suite bathrooms with shower, sink and flushing toilet. The floor acts as a drain and other than putting toilet paper in the bin rather than flushing, everything else is normal. It’s important to remember water is limited though, so you’re encouraged to turn taps off when you’re not using them – a good habit to bring back to your every day life. I showered outside off the back of the boat every evening though, there’s a shower hose you can use to wash off salt water after swims, but why not make the most of being outdoors and air drying? With swimwear, but that’s your call ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The cabins all have port holes looking out to the sea and pop up sky lights, so they feel bright and airy.
Storage space on boats is really smart, there are nooks and crannies everywhere to keep all your stuff. I definitely recommend using packing cubes to keep organised and there’ll be clothes pegs on board to dry your swimwear, towels etc off the side of the boat.
Monohull boats (the regular looking sailing yachts) are a bit less spacious, mainly when it comes to common areas though, so you’ll still be comfortable in your cabin.
What about meal times?
The G Adventures Southern Sri Lanka Sailing Trip I joined is fully catered, so the on-board chef prepared three meals a day for us (and one incredible sunset beach BBQ!). Others only include some of your meals, generally breakfast and lunch then you eat out on land in the evenings. The more self-catered trips require you to muck in a bit with prep and cleaning up after yourself, whereas on the Sri Lanka sailing tour we didn’t lift a finger once. There was always tea and coffee kept hot in canteens, jars of biscuits and access to unlimited water. Plus, a separate fridge where you could help yourself to cold soft and alcoholic drinks and pay later.
Do I need to have any sailing experience?
You might be asking, ‘will I have to do any actual sailing?’. In a word, no. Not unless you want to that is! We had four crew on board, so there was never any need to help out, but it’s fun to learn a bit about the sails, anchor and knots. On smaller boats, when your skipper doubles as your tour guide, he or she might give you a little job to do like press a button to lower the anchor or bring in/put out the fenders and if you’re lucky they’ll also give you a free sailing lesson! You don’t need to have ever stepped foot on a boat before to enjoy one of G Adventure’s marine trips though, but it’s probably best to know if you get sea sick before booking! Bring some motion sickness tablets anyway (handy for hangovers) and choose a catamaran over a monohull if you’re worried about the movement. A general rule would be if you get motion sickness (in cars etc), you’ll be more likely to have issues on the sea.
I, however, apparently think I’m Moana…
What kind of activities can you do during a sailing trip?
Obvious ones would be swimming and snorkelling. Being able to roll out of bed and into the sea is probably the number one draw for me. If you’re the kind of person who loves the water but hates the sand, then sailing holidays are the one for you. Most boats have snorkel gear on board, ours also had two stand up paddle boards and a kayak to use whenever we wanted.Keen fishers can work for their supper too, see the freshest tuna I’ve ever eaten below! If you’re not a strong swimmer, you can get a lift in the dinghy to wherever you need to go. Plus, everything is optional, so if you want to chill out on the boat while there’s an activity on land on your itinerary then feel free. It’s nice to set foot on solid ground at least once a day so you don’t get cabin fever though! On the flip side, it’s also nice steering clear of shops, traffic and crowds for a week, you don’t realise how serene it is until your trip comes to an abrupt end on day seven.
Make sure to pack a kindle or a few books. You can usually plug your phone into the speakers to listen to your own playlists too, so make sure to make some available offline. On that note, network coverage might be patchy and WiFi on sailing yachts is rare.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and check out my full review of the Sri Lanka trip here.
Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. This blog post was sponsored by G Adventures, all views are, as always, my own.