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 31 - 45 of 309 programs
China Internship Placements
Custom Gap Year Programs Throughout China
China
10 •3 reviews

Get groomed and mentored to discover the world, reflect on your...

Pacific Discovery
South America Semester – Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure
Multiple Countries
10 •7 reviews

Who do you want to be in the world? Join us for an insightful...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: South America - Peru, Ecuador & Patagonia
Multiple Countries
9.39 •23 reviews

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

GapForce
Costa Rica Adventure with Gapforce
Costa Rica
9.38 •13 reviews

Costa Rica has some of the greatest biodiversity on earth and it’s...

Where There Be Dragons
Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation Gap Year Semester
Indonesia
9.56 •9 reviews

Spanning from Malaysia to Australia, with over 17,000 equatorial...

Where There Be Dragons
Nepal: Himalayan Studies Gap Year Semester
Nepal
9.91 •11 reviews

The Himalayas. Since time immemorial, these colossal peaks with their...

Carpe Diem Education
Latitudes Gap Year: Group Semester & Focused Volunteer Placement
Multiple Countries
9.75 •4 reviews

Choose one of our 3-month group semesters during the fall (India...

Irish Gap Year
Adventure and Leadership Program: Semester Length, Fall and Spring Cohorts
Ireland
9.57 •67 reviews

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

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Ecuador & Galapagos Summer Program
Multiple Countries
10 •4 reviews

Be prepared to fall in love with Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands on...

Where There Be Dragons
South America: Andes & Amazon Gap Year Semester
Multiple Countries
9.5 •6 reviews

From sparkling glaciers to lush tropical forests, this Gap Year...

Where There Be Dragons
West Africa: Rhythms of Senegal Gap Year Semester
Senegal
10 •5 reviews

From agricultural villages to mangrove islands, explore contemporary...

Up with People
Up with People On Tour Gap Year Experience
Multiple Countries
9.85 •75 reviews

Are you ready to turn your dream of travel into a reality? Travel with...

Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad Global Gap Year Program
Multiple Countries
9.5 •2 reviews

Projects Abroad has designed an innovative gap year program designed...

1 new reviews
Wanderlust Exchange
Wanderlust Au Pair China Program
China
9.15 •68 reviews

Wanderlust Au Pair China Program integrates educational travel...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE Gap Year in Paris, France – French Language Immersion for Art Lovers
France
10 •2 reviews

Everyone dreams of a trip to Paris, but how many get to actually live...

What People Are Saying

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

Before I started this program I had no clue who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. This program helped me discover my values, and helped me gain the confidence to follow my own path in life...

Top of the rock

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...

Went hiking in Argentina for my travel period of the program.

Related Gap Year Articles