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 307 programs
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...

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...

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...

Start Me Up
Gap Year Startup Program in Bali
Indonesia
9.5 •2 reviews

If you’re like most people, you’ll want to travel, explore and do...

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...

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

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

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...

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...

Clear Sky Retreat Centre
Karma Yoga, Mindfulness and Community-building in Canada
Canada
9.8 •5 reviews

Are you looking to bring more meaning into your life? Integrate your...

GapForce
Ghana Volunteering & Internships with Gapforce
Ghana
9.5 •2 reviews

Join our community volunteering placement in the friendliest nation in...

BroadFutures
Paid Internship Program in Washington D.C.
United States of America
9.58 •12 reviews

BroadFutures is a training, mentoring and paid internship program...

Where There Be Dragons
China: South of the Clouds Gap Year Semester
China
10 •2 reviews

With 5,000 years of history and an expansive tapestry of cultures...

Where There Be Dragons
Mekong: Tibetan Plateau to the Heart of Southeast Asia Gap Year Semester
Multiple Countries
10 •2 reviews

To Tibetans, the Upper Mekong is a powerful spiritual entity. To the...

iSPiiCE
Volunteer & Teach Gap Year in India | Summer Program
India
9.36 •14 reviews

Gap Year in India at iSpiice, offers plenty of Gap year volunteer work...

Tivnu: Building Justice
Tivnu: Building Justice Gap Year Program
United States of America
9.86 •7 reviews

Explore Portland and the Pacific Northwest, discover new ways of...

What People Are Saying

To me Aardvark was a year to truly find myself. I was surrounded by new people from all over the world, which pushed me to get to know others. I was given opportunities which without Aardvark I’d...

Trip to Akko

I came back from India a more confident, compassionate human being. I made friendships that will last a life time and had leaders who widened my perspective tremendously. Carpe Diem had a miraculous...

On a rooftop during the last few days of the trip!

My Carpe Diem East Africa experience was amazing from start to finish. I learned so much about a different part of the world, met so many amazing people, volunteered in a variety of places, got scuba...

Kifaru group at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Related Gap Year Articles