Do you want a gap year where you learn practical skills? Or get a chance to learn first-hand how to do something new? Whether it's cooking classes or scuba diving certification, a hands-on learning gap year might be the type of program you're searching for.

A hands-on learning gap year or semester is one that's designed to teach gappers a new skill by doing it. Typically, hands-on learning gap year programs will focus on practical skills such as scuba diving, cooking, massage, or wilderness training. Unlike a traditional education, these programs aim to learn outside of the classroom -- often in a corner of the globe that's well known for the skill gappers are learning.

Europe

From fashion design to culinary arts; architecture to historical restoration; Europe has a diverse set of skills that gappers can learn.

Asia

Learn how to scuba dive or give a Thai massage in Thailand; learn meditation and yoga, or how to create a Bollywood film in India; take a cooking class in the Philippines or China. Whatever you do, Asia is rich in hands-on learning options.

South and Central America

South and Central America, especially Costa Rica, have quite a few destinations for scuba diving certifications. You can also learn Spanish (obviously) or about environmental conservation.

Africa

Head to one of Africa's 52 countries and learn more about dance, music, environmental conservation, or photography.

What Can You Do?

What are the possibilities are for hands-on learning? Everything. You can become an expert in Thai cuisine, become certified in scuba diving, learn how to build a shelter and survive in the wilderness, become a yoga master, participate in animal and marine life conservation, become a documentary filmmaker or a writer, and any other possible skill that you can dream up.

Visa

Visa regulations vary widely by country, but generally if your visit is under a certain amount of days a visa won't be required. That differs greatly depending on the country, as does the process and difficulty level in obtaining a visa.

Housing

The type of housing you'll be staying in varies by program. If your gap year is focused on teaching wilderness survival skills, it is likely you'll be camping. If you're learning a language, you'll likely be placed with a host family (or at least given the option).

General Tips

Packing: You may have heard it already, many times probably, but pack lightly and sensibly. Think about where you're going, what kind of natural environment is it? What skills will you be learning? For instance, if you're going to be farming, leave the high heels and your expensive clothes at home.

Be respectful: Make sure to understand and be mindful of the laws and customs of the country where you are learning new skills. You want to portray yourself and your own culture in a positive light and you definitely want to stay out of trouble.

Safety first: Whether you're dealing with the wild animals of Africa, climbing a mountain, or scuba diving, chances are there will be rules put in place. These are for your own safety as well as the safety of those around you, so be smart with your decision making.

Contributed by Rachel Westmore

Hands-on Learning Gap Year Programs

Displaying 16 - 30 of 309 programs
1 new reviews
Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | India Semester: Spirituality & Service
India
9.56 •18 reviews

Discover the incredible depth and diversity of India. Witness how...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | South America Semester: Spanish Immersion & Conservation
Multiple Countries
9.8 •10 reviews

Trek to the sprawling Incan ruins at Machu Picchu and try your hand at...

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Thailand Summer Program
Thailand
9.87 •15 reviews

Experience the exotic and varied landscapes, tastes, wildlife and...

Seamester
Seamester: Virgin Islands to Dominica - 40 Days
Multiple Countries
9.55 •11 reviews

Seeking a Caribbean adventure that's shorter than a full semester but...

Seamester
Seamester: Caribbean to Tahiti Voyage via The Galapagos - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •11 reviews

Sail to Bonaire and wake to flocks of Venezuelan flamingos flying...

GapForce
Australia Adventure with Gapforce
Australia
9.3 •30 reviews

Join one of our groups for an action-packed 7 week tour combining...

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program
Multiple Countries
9.94 •16 reviews

Experience the local lifestyle, explore incredible landscapes, and...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Southeast Asia Semester: Human Rights & Cultural Exchange
Multiple Countries
9.78 •9 reviews

Study Human Rights and Cultural Exchange with a community of students...

Seamester
Seamester: Virgin Islands to the Mediterranean - 40 Days
Multiple Countries
9.67 •6 reviews

Crewing a yacht on a transatlantic voyage is not something many can...

Pacific Discovery
Nepal & Tibet | Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure
Multiple Countries
9.75 •8 reviews

Discover your passion and purpose. Join us for an impactful, overland...

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Ecuador
Ecuador
9.81 •21 reviews

Global Citizen Year is a non-profit social enterprise forging a new...

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Senegal
Senegal
9.53 •17 reviews

Global Citizen Year is a non-profit social enterprise forging a new...

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Peru Summer Program
Peru
9.71 •7 reviews

Follow in the footprints of great explorers on this incredible 4-week...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Spain & Morocco Semester: Human Migration & Language Study
Multiple Countries
8.8 •5 reviews

Learn about Human Migration, and immerse yourself in Spanish & Arabic...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: East Africa - Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania
Multiple Countries
9.8 •25 reviews

ARCC Gap East Africa explores the majesty, cultures, and challenges of...

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There is no way I can adequately describe this program in 500 words, however, I will try my best. Before this program, I was broken, lost and torn apart by the idea of living my life for others. This...

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