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.


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


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.


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 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.


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 196 - 210 of 309 programs
The Pioneer Project
South Appalachia: Adventure, Crafts, and Sustainability
United States of America
9 •1 review

Surrounded by thousands of acres of wilderness, in the craft center of...

Reading Corps and Math Corps
Math Corps Tutor Program
United States of America
10 •1 review

Thousands of kids struggle in math and you can make all the difference...

The Stir Experience
Work and Travel Australia
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

Our Work & Travel Program gives you the ultimate flexibility to work...

Viva Tanzania
Engage in Meaningful Work & Projects During Your Gap Year in Arusha, Tanzania
10 •1 review

You want to spend your Gap Year in a meaningful way? Gain work...

The High Desert Center
Colorado Semester of Adventure
United States of America

We invite you to join us for the full homesteading experience combined...

Pure Exploration
Outdoor Instructor Program | Global
New Zealand

An accelerated, 9 month practical immersion program, which offers a...

Pure Exploration
Adventure Guide Program | Thailand & India

Thailand & India, what a combination! From world class rock climbing...

Gap Year in International Development with FSD JINJA UGANDA

FSD Jinja-Uganda’s Gap Year program is an immersive program for pre...

Masa Israel Journey
Gap Year Programs in Israel

Intrigued by the opportunity to spend a semester or year experiencing...

University of Pennsylvania Social Innovators Program
Social Innovators Program (UPenn CSIS / Schoolyard Ventures)
10 •1 review

The Social Innovators Program is a thirteen week virtual program...

OneLife Institute
OneLife Institute Gap Year
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

OneLife is a nine month gap year program for students who want to grow...

Coding Dojo
Gap Year with Coding Dojo
United States of America
10 •1 review

Spend 4 or 5 months of your gap year with Coding Dojo, the world's...

Outdoor Education Instructor
United Arab Emirates
10 •1 review

Exciting opportunity to spend the winter in the sun and explore the...

Zero Potential Universe
R'dam City Challenge: Creative Media Edition
10 •1 review

Are you longing to be fully immersed in your passion where the only...

Pacia Life Portugal
International Cultural Immersion GAP Program
Multiple Countries

As part of what Pacia Life describes as Track 5 or the Personal Growth...

What People Are Saying

Although our trip was cut short because of COVID19, I still had a blast. I made a lot of friends whom I still talk to even after we returned home. My overseas educators Rebecca and Adam were so kind...


I completed my Pioneer Project experience in the fall of 2013. I was 18 and had just graduated High School and I was looking to fill my life with adventure and purpose. Pioneer Project helped me find...

By the lake during our second expedition

I always wanted to travel to China and see the culture from inside so this program was like a golden ticket to me. Of course I felt a little bit uneasy moving 7000 km away but the agency did its best...

My baby

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