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 61 - 75 of 310 programs
Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Make a Difference with Volunteering and Adventure Travel in Uganda - Gap Year
Uganda
9.72 •18 reviews

Go on Safari, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, bungee jump over the Nile river...

Go Abroad China
Explore the real China with a Fun Gap Year - Intern, Learn Chinese or Volunteer in China
China
10 •1 review

Are you seeking meaningful activities that you can take on during the...

Outward Bound
The Best Way to Become an Outdoor Educator—Learn from the Best!
United States of America
9.86 •7 reviews

It takes a special kind of person to become an outdoor educator. They...

Rustic Pathways
Mulit-Country Rustic Pathways Gap Year
Multiple Countries
9.45 •20 reviews

A gap year is not a one-kind-fits-all experience. That's why Rustic...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: Centro-Caribbean - Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica & Belize
Multiple Countries
9.75 •4 reviews

ARCC’s Centro-Caribbean Spring Gap Program explores some of the most...

Amigos de las Americas
Amigos de las Americas - Uruguay Gap Year
Uruguay
10 •4 reviews

Accredited by the Gap Year Association, our Gap Program provides...

Where There Be Dragons
Madagascar: Cultural & Ecological Diversity Gap Year Semester
Madagascar
10 •1 review

Rugged travel across a canvas of deserts, forests, mountains, and seas...

The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain
Permaculture, Sustainability & Activism Semester in the USA
United States of America
9.88 •8 reviews

Dear Current and Aspiring Climate and Social Justice Activists: Are...

GapForce
Expedition and Dive Instructor Training with Gapforce
Costa Rica
10 •1 review

Join our world-leading 16-week, Costa Rica based, Expedition Dive...

Gap at Glen Brook
Gap Semester in New Hampshire. Farm, Nature Connection, Community Living
United States of America
9.42 •12 reviews

Authenticity. Dignity. Wonder. Discover What's Yours. Gap at Glen...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: Pacific Islands - Fiji, Sumatra & Bali
Indonesia
10 •3 reviews

Travel to and immerse yourself in the island lifestyles of Sumatra...

Cow House Studios
FieldWorks: Enrichment Arts Gap Year Program in Ireland
Ireland
10 •9 reviews

Students ages 18 to 22 have an opportunity to make new artistic works...

Tru Experience Travel
Gap Year Volunteering with TRU Experience Travel
Multiple Countries
10 •8 reviews

Have you ever wanted to use your skills in less developed parts of the...

The High Desert Center
The High Desert Center Gap Year
Multiple Countries
9.9 •10 reviews

Our Gap Year Programs are designed for people who want to have fun in...

VACorps
VACorps Gap Year Program in Cape Town
South Africa
9.67 •3 reviews

The VACorps Gap Year Program is a transformative experience that will...

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.

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