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 76 - 90 of 310 programs
Outward Bound
Earn College Credit & Explore Incredible Locations in the U.S.
United States of America
10 •4 reviews

The Outward Bound Semester & Gap year program won the Top Gap Year...

Pure Exploration
Adventure Guide Program - New Zealand
New Zealand
9.3 •10 reviews

Head to New Zealand for 12 weeks of adventure travel to rival any...

The High Desert Center
Affordable Community Adventure Gap Year with High Desert Center
Multiple Countries
9.8 •5 reviews

For the adventurous soul, who's craving something out of the box, who...

Where There Be Dragons
India: On the Front Lines of Climate Change Gap Year Semester
India
8.5 •2 reviews

Investigate the impact of climate change at the source, traveling from...

Youth International
Explore the Cultures of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador
Multiple Countries
9.73 •11 reviews

What's on your South America bucket list? Galapagos Islands, Amazon...

Welcome To Travel
Melbourne: Your Best Travel Week In Australia
Australia
10 •14 reviews

Welcome To Travel: Melbourne is Australia's most unique, diverse and...

Kol Ami
Kol Ami Mechina Leadership Gap Year in Israel
Israel
9.2 •35 reviews

Kol Ami is a life changing leadership program operated by the Jewish...

EA Ski & Snowboard
Ultimate Gap Year Ski Instructor Training Program
Multiple Countries
9.8 •5 reviews

Do you want to spend a winter gap year in the world's top ski...

Outward Bound
For Young Adults to Discover Who They Are & Where They Want to Go
United States of America
10 •2 reviews

Outward Bound Pathfinder expeditions, for ages 18-25, take place in...

InterExchange
Sustainable Action Costa Rica
Costa Rica
10 •4 reviews

Quick facts Eligibility: U.S. citizens 18+ Program Fee: $2,195 Dates...

A+ World Academy
Sail Around the World with A+ World Academy High School & Gap Year
Multiple Countries
9.67 •6 reviews

A+ World Academy has one of the most unique programs settings in the...

Amigos de las Americas
Amigos de las Americas - Ecuador Gap Year
Ecuador
9.33 •3 reviews

Spend your first month in intensive Spanish classes, including outings...

Aardvark Israel
Aardvark: Gap Year Program in Israel
Israel
8.74 •38 reviews

Aardvark Israel is a program which combines volunteering/interning and...

Scotia Personnel
Au Pair Cultural Immersion Gap Year in Italy
Italy
10 •13 reviews

Cultural immersion in beautiful Italia! Learn Italian, and gain...

The Leap
Conserve the Galapagos, Jungle Tribes + Adventure Week in Ecuador
Ecuador
9.38 •8 reviews

This 5-week program is all about getting stuck into conservation and...

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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