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

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

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Visit South Africa for a Volunteering & Adventure Travel Gap Year
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9.33 •3 reviews

South Africa is an incredible country with a rich and varied history...

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...

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...

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...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Experience the Real Thailand: Adventure Travel and Volunteering
Thailand
9 •3 reviews

Thailand is an amazing country, full of contrast. You will have plenty...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Learn Mandarin and Experience the Culture of China
China
9 •3 reviews

Experience China whilst fully immersed in the language and community...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Immersive Summer Abroad Program Uganda
Uganda
9.5 •2 reviews

“So much fun I would do it again 100 times, there are few things...

Pure Exploration
Adventure Guide Program | Queenstown NZ
New Zealand
9.3 •10 reviews

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

Outward Bound
Semester in Costa Rica & Florida: Earn Your Scuba Diver Certification
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

Three months. Three countries. Opportunities to test leadership skills...

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...

Tru Experience Travel
Wildlife Conservation Programs: Volunteer on Your Gap Year
Multiple Countries
10 •3 reviews

Our Wildlife Conservation, Rescue and Community Projects take place...

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...

IAU
Break the Mold with a Gap Year Abroad at IAU
Multiple Countries
9 •1 review

IAU is pleased to offer an incredible Gap Year Abroad opportunity to...

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...

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...

Protovillage

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...

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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...

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