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 91 - 105 of 309 programs
IAU
Break the Mold with a Gap Year Abroad at IAU
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9 •1 review

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

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Global U Gap Year for Christian Entreprenuers
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iSPiiCE
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Clear Sky Retreat Centre
Karma Yoga, Mindfulness and Community-building in Canada
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United Planet
Gap Year: 6-month+ Service Learning Opportunities in New Zealand with United Planet
New Zealand
9 •1 review

United planet offers long-term volunteer opportunities to those...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Live in Tanzania on a Volunteering & Adventure Travel Gap Year
Tanzania
10 •4 reviews

Volunteer in Tanzania and become one of the locals, welcomed with open...

The Leap
Turtles + Plastic Ocean Conservation in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
9 •12 reviews

Your time will be spent on the Nicoya Peninsula where you will...

Tivnu: Building Justice
Tivnu: Building Justice Gap Year Program
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Explore Portland and the Pacific Northwest, discover new ways of...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Visit Nepal for a Gap Year of Volunteering & Adventure Travel
Nepal
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Climb to the Mount Everest base camp, trek through Nepals famous...

The Leap
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10 •8 reviews

For a conservation experience you can't beat this pioneering...

4 new reviews
MentorU Inc.
Purposeful Gap Year Program - Discover Year
Canada
10 •8 reviews

Discover Year is an accredited Canadian post-secondary education...

Naropa University
LeapYear India: Naropa University's Gap Year
Multiple Countries
9.73 •11 reviews

This program offers an extraordinary alternative year of college...

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...

Culsans Gap Travel
Hands on conservation, adventure and wildlife trip in Kenya
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9.67 •6 reviews

Unlike your regular Gap Year trips, Culsans Gap Travel offers a world...

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

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

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...

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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...

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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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