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 286 programs
Dynamy Internship Year
Dynamy: Full-Year
United States of America
9 reviews5 interviews

Dynamy Internship Year offers full-year, semester (fall/spring) and...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: East Africa - Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania
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ARCC Gap East Africa explores the majesty, cultures, and challenges of...

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Thailand Summer Program
Thailand
15 reviews5 interviews

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

Thinking Beyond Borders
Gap Year Semester in Asia with Thinking Beyond Borders
Multiple Countries
7 reviews2 interviews

Are you ready to make a difference? Then this may be the program for...

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Ecuador
Ecuador
21 reviews3 interviews

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

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | New Zealand & Fiji Summer Program
Multiple Countries
16 reviews2 interviews

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

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | East Africa Semester: Community Development and Education
Multiple Countries
13 reviews2 interviews

Practice community service and international development in the...

Seamester
Seamester: Virgin Islands to Dominica - 40 Days
Multiple Countries
11 reviews1 interview

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

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Senegal
Senegal
17 reviews4 interviews

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

Seamester
Seamester: Caribbean to Tahiti Voyage via The Galapagos - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
11 reviews1 interview

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

Irish Gap Year
Adventure and Leadership Program: Semester Length, Fall and Spring Cohorts
Ireland
67 reviews2 interviews

Irish Gap Year’s Adventure & Leadership Gap Year Program will take you...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | South America Semester: Spanish Immersion & Conservation
Multiple Countries
9 reviews2 interviews

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

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: South America - Peru, Ecuador & Patagonia
Multiple Countries
23 reviews7 interviews

Adventure and education collide during our three-month journey through...

Pacific Discovery
Nepal & Tibet | Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure
Multiple Countries
8 reviews3 interviews

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

Seamester
Seamester: Virgin Islands to the Mediterranean - 40 Days
Multiple Countries
6 reviews1 interview

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

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