Up with People On Tour Gap Year Experience

Video and Photos

UWP Peaple and host families
UWP Peaple and host families
Up with People is not religiously or politically affiliated. However, we had the amazing opportunity to sing for him at the basilica and take a picture with him. ON HIS BIRTHDAY.
This was one of our education opportunities: we went around on a boat in Tiberius, Israel in the Sea of Galilee. We learned about its history and the meaning of it to its people. It was a great experience.
For our community service, we cleaned up as much as we could around a slum area of the Philippines. We then walked through the slums and got a view from their "beach," which is a heap of trash that they play on by water. Afterwords, we did activities with the kids. It was such an eye-opening experience.


Are you ready to turn your dream of travel into a reality? Travel with purpose. Volunteer around the world. Perform for thousands.

Up with People on Tour provides a multi-destination gap semester (5 months) or full gap year experience where the young adults can take their passion of travel, volunteering, performance, education, and leadership and put it into action through the power of their own voice. Our international gap year experience immerses participants into many different cultures through a unique blend of music and social action, travel and host family stays, and so much more. We provide an in-depth experiential learning environment that will prepare you to navigate today’s complex world in both your professional and personal life.

Now accepting applications for our January & July programs!

  • International Travel & Host Families
  • Volunteer Abroad
  • Performing Arts
  • Leadership & Professional Development
  • University Academic Credit (Optional)

Questions & Answers


based on 75 reviews
  • Housing 9.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.8
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 16 - 30 of 75
Yes, I recommend this program

Impact Communities Around the World / Gain Professional Skills!

My journey with Up with People started in 2009, just before I graduated from University. I had just returned from studying abroad and was SO bummed I hadn't heard of Up with People before making my study abroad choice...but that didn't stop me! I bugged them for about 8 months to bring me in as a Promotion Representative and started in the summer of 2010. The rest is history. I am still employed with Up with People 9 years later as the Director of Sales and have the opportunity to provide remarkable life changing experiences for people like YOU by scheduling a part of your future tour. Up with People gave me invaluable personal and professional development opportunities that I don't think I could have gained anywhere else. At the end of my first year with the organization I had managed media and financial partnerships valued at more than $300,000, planned community service projects, meals, educational activities, host families and promoted performances for 100 young people in 11 cities, in 5 U.S. States and 5 Countries. To do this I was moving to a new city every 6 weeks and working with a new international team of 1-2 other young adults. Up with People gave me the opportunity to see the world, change lives, apply and grow many hard and soft skills including organizational, interpersonal communication, cross-cultural communication, sales, relationship building, time management, media and proposal writing, event planning, logistics, cold calling, people management, public speaking...the list truly goes on and on! Experiences like mine are available to participants traveling in the program in the form of internships for an even more hands on personal, professional and immersive educational experience. I've seen first-hand this program change the lives of more than 1,800 youth, one of whom is my cousin. She started out shy, quiet and closed off. Fast-forward to 4 years later - she's graduated with a degree in communications, worked in radio and now is a public relations professional for a non-profit in her community. The experiences you gain in Up with People from host family living and cultural immersion to serving communities around the world through volunteerism and the arts is unmatched. You'll give a lot of yourself and get back SO.MUCH.MORE!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come in with an open mind and an open heart and the growth you'll experience with serve you exponentially!
Lauren Dow is a travel, wellness, and self help writer.
Yes, I recommend this program

Don't just travel - make a difference

When I first heard about Up with People, I was immediately onboard. This program is one of the best gap year experiences I have heard of. Not only are you traveling to different countries around the world, you're also performing a show and volunteering in different communities within the cities you travel to. If you're still on the fence, take some time to talk to the people who have traveled before. Their passion for this organization is contagious. I found that even the alumni in this group become one large family that you will have for life. I was lucky enough to become a part of their office team in Denver, and it's been such a wonderful experience for me. Working with the cast members and students that travel is such a rewarding feeling. Plus the show is amazing! So much fun to watch and be a part of. I also had no idea how much good they bring to the world. There are tons of leadership workshops, chances for academic credits (study abroad students - this is for you too!). It's such a diverse program that is incredibly well rounded. I would definitely recommend this program.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I honestly had no idea the growth I would see with the cast members. Even just in the first few weeks of the tour, it was incredible to see how much people stepped outside of their comfort zone and became more confident and well rounded individuals.
Yes, I recommend this program

Lasting friendships, experiential learning, & personal growth

Awesome program! I narrowed down my gap year (between college & graduate school) to either the Peace Corps or UWP. I chose UWP since it was for 1 year rather than 2 (now you can choose 6 months or 1 year with UWP). It was one of the best choices I've ever made.

The reason I joined was primarily for the host family & community service experiences. I knew I wanted to be a family therapist, so thought those experiences would be helpful (& a good resume booster!): it was! I loved living with so many different families & experiencing cultures first hand from around the world. And, by visiting & helping at nursing homes, prisons, schools, ... I got to see just how much I really enjoyed working with people. I ended up taking a little more gap time before graduate school. The job I got (working with teen moms) was purely because I traveled with UWP: my boss loved a "worldly" person and someone with all the experience I had with diverse groups of people.

There are several internships and skills to learn while on the road: sound mixing, lighting, education, dance, singing, logistics, promotions, ... I was not much of a show person, but enjoyed our performance. I could sing, so was put on the microphone group (the sound the audience primarily hears), but never tried out for a solo. Over time, I decided to do more behind-the-scenes work, so learned sound mixing (using a monitor mixer).

The non-profit was founded by a group called MRA (a Christian group). It switched to being UWP just a few years later and became non-sectarian. It's an incredibly open-minded organization and strives for diversity of it's cast members & staff: politically, ethnically, culturally, religious values, sexual orientation, etc.

Today, about 28 years later, I'm still in touch with about 125 cast members/staff. It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

What would you improve about this program?
There are so many alumni now, after 50 years, there could be stronger local alumni chapters to keep the mission going: "...be positive agents of change for a more hopeful, trusting and peaceful world."
Yes, I recommend this program

Best learning expereince ever

This program shaped my worldview and dedication to serving others in my local community and around the world. It helped increase my networking and business skills which led to jobs, and many other opportunities. The experience also still provides me with a network of people all over the world. One of my favorite experiences was staying with host families in many different cities, states, and countries. It was great to be apart of a family to learn their customs, traditions, and enjoy their food. I traveled to Europe, China, Canada, Mexico, and all over the USA. The other great part was traveling with other young adults from many different countries. We learned a lot about each other and the friendships still remain. The program still offers students a great global experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The program can be improved by going to more cities and countries. This would require additional funding sources and connections. Also, I would love for the program to represent the real diversity of the world. While there are a lot of different people involved, there are gaps in who is represented.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great culture Exchange

My UWP Experience was really great i have discovered a lot of things from traveling i feel before traveling my knowledge of the world and cultures was very little. what i like the most was that we were hosted by local families which a lot to absorb the culture of different people depending where we were. coming from Johannesburg South Africa i was really happy to see the world through UWP and also to be part of the network since I am working in the tourism space.

What would you improve about this program?
I think more financial support for students who come from disadvantage backgrounds.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The perfect combination. TRAVEL the world - HELP communities - PERFORM a Show

For me the combination of all aspects of this program was what got my attention and then I made the decision to DO IT!

It's simple and great!

TRAVEL - Every week we travelled to a different city in the world.
PERFORM - We were part of a professionally produced concert!*
HELP communities - We did volunteer work to help the communities we visited.

INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPANTS - It's young people (about 100) from around 20 different countries.
HOST FAMILIES - We stood with local host families. This way we got to know the culture better.

I have not seen any other program in the world that combines all this aspects. I am super passionate about this program, Up with People!

* The show is mainly 3 things - international songs and dances from around the world, pop medleys and original songs. It has a live band, video, costumes, great sound and lights.

I was the drummer of the show but you don't need to be a musician, singer or a dancer necessarily.

What would you improve about this program?

Not a lot of people knows it.

This program it's not for everyone. You have to really want to make a positive change in the world.

If you like travelling, helping others, interested in other cultures and like to perform, this is for you.
Yes, I recommend this program

Change Your Life by Changing the World

Up with People changed my life. I was 17, a senior in high school in the US, and unsure of where the world would take me. In my search for a gap semester program that featured travel, music, and community service I discovered Up with People. I knew that college would always be an option for me, but an opportunity like UWP would not. I was able to travel around the world and impact communities along the way via traditional community service projects, youth interaction, and international music. I would recommend this program to anyone looking to make the world a little smaller through their unique lens. Since travelling in Up with People in 2010, I have gone on to receive my undergraduate degree, completed two Disney College Program internships in Orlando, Florida, and have made contacts (and friends) from around the world. Up with People has taught me so much about myself and about the world, but most of all UWP made me who I am. So take your chance and apply, you may work with children in a small town in Taiwan, perform in a senior citizen home in Sweden, or stay with an unforgettable host family in Mexico. I did each of these things, and grew incredibly from these opportunities.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Travel, Perform, Impact

As an 18-year-old girl from a small town in Wyoming, I knew that I wanted to see the world. I also knew that I wanted to perform. But it had to all mean something. To me, that didn't mean college right away. It meant taking the "road less traveled." Thankfully, I had a music teacher in town who traveled with Up with People, and her daughter was also an alumna. They both talked about the experience with such passion and positivity. The more research I did, the more convinced I was that this program had everything I was looking for. After making it through a simple yet meaningful interview process, I was accepted within a few weeks!

I traveled as a student with Up with People for a year. Because of this amazing opportunity, I was able to see places through the eyes of locals thanks to the host family component, sing for audiences that ranged from 100-3000, give back to communities through unique service, and create special bonds with people that can only be made through experience. The cast is made up of about 100 students from 15+ different countries, so even if Nepal isn't on the tour schedule, your roommate from Nepal might be able to make you a homemade dish for dinner.

There were some difficult times that were cultivated by fatigue, home sickness, and the grind of traveling to a new place each week. However, it was the prevailing through these times that made me a stronger and better human being. Accountability is a huge part of Up with People, and representing yourself as well as the name of the program is very important. This is a great life skill to acquire and improve on while traveling. It was the nights when we had to take down the stage until 12 at night and be at a drop off location at 7 that made us come together and be better for each other and for ourselves. This kind of growth can only happen with some heathy abrasion, and Up with People provides the ideal environment for that.

Even though I'm a performer and it was my main draw to the program, the education component is what made me buy in physically and mentally. Learning through experience is what pumps life through the program. Everything can be a learning opportunity, and for some, it can be as simple as learning to do laundry for the first time ever without Mom or Dad's help. While the program is based around bookless learning, there is a great study abroad opportunity with some transferable credits for parents who are on the fence about their kids not being in school. It's a win-win all around, education wise.

The performing is unique in regards to not everyone in the cast being required to have performing experience upon entrance to the program. At first, I was a little apprehensive about that. However, I learned that it doesn't take awesome vocal chords and exceptional dance moves for the joy of performing to be present or for a message to be delivered through song. It made every performance meaningful knowing that we were reaching people with our message of hope and positivity.

I'm writing this review in a host family's house currently, about four and a half years after my student experience. Tomorrow, I start my job as the Vocal Instructor on the road for Up with People. I'm honored and humble to be entering this position, and I know I wouldn't be up for the challenge if it weren't for my Up with People experience and the confidence I gained as a student. Tomorrow the job starts and I get to be a part of creating this experience for students who are about to become global citizens. I knew it would be difficult to keep this review succinct, but Up with People deserves the thorough explanation of how great it is.

What would you improve about this program?
Expanding the map. More places for more people to be for people.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

A lifechanging experience

I have lived the best 6 months of my life. I have met so many people that are now more than friends, they are part of my family.
In Up With People, you learn to get out of your comfort zone, you meet so many different people, you travel, you try new things, you grow, change, get more confident.
. You realize that being open-minded is very important nowadays, and you learn how to become like that.
Of course you will have hard times, missing your family, being constantly in your challenged ou panic zone, but the results are worth it.
To me, there are no right words that could describe this adventure because it is so amazing and you have to live it to understand it.
I am so glad that I got the opportunity to be part of CastB16 and I would recommand the program to every single person in this world who is willing to make a change, impact, grow, travel, experience,...
I had the best time of my life and I don't think any other program is as good as UWP.

Forever in my heart!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Worth it!

When I first heard of Up With People, I was skeptical. I had never seen a show and I was a little unsure of the whole thing. Looking back now im so glad i choose to do it and so glad I get to travel another semester.

Up With People offeres you so many things. For me personally, I have never learned so much in only six months. Just off the top of my head i can say that I learned to be a better leader, boosted my self confedence, made over 100 life long friends, brodened my cultural understanding, inspired myself and others to do better, made inpacts with comunities and people, increased my musical knowlage, and much much more. To some it up, this program will change your life.

There where a couple aspects of UWP (Up with People) that stood out to me the most. One of these aspects was the people. If or when you travel, you will meet tons of amazing people from all around the world from cast members and staff to host families and coumuity members, you will find names and faces that you will remember for the rest of your life. Another big aspect for me was the show. Traveling and preforming in front of people every week, for me, really boosted my self confedence and it gave me the chance to not only preform but to work backstage, learninng how to set up and take down our stage along with learning the "innerworkings" of how our stage works. The final aspect that I really injoyed was the Commuity service. In every place i traveled to, i got the opportunity to meet and work with people who needed our help. To put it bluntly, every week I worked, learning new skills and changed peoples lifes. I got to experiance all kinds of amazing projects, from painting a mural of a "tree of hope" to help give hope to families who have loved ones in the hospital, to acually planting trees to help recover some wilderness land.

These where just some of the aspects I enjoyed most for me in UWP. If you choose or have alreay choosen to do the program, then I promise it will change your life in so many ways. If you are still unsure about UWP, than I will leave you with one last thing.
This program is not for everyone, but if you enjoy helping others, Preforming, Traveling, and/or meeting new people (all or any one of those things), then you should really look into and/or apply because this program for me and maybe for you is defenetly Worth It.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Turning a dream into reality

Everyone has daydreams of what they could be doing. Traveling around the world, knowing people across the globe, creating long-life friends, experiencing adventures that are unique, learning new skills, ... The crazy thing is that Up with People gave me all of this. Time has become relative, I have done more in a semester than otherwise I would do in several years. Give me a category of stories and I bet you that I can give you one. Either doing volunteer work in the slums of Manila and realizing what an impact you can have by reaching out. Or performing for 12.000 people in an arena in Germany and seeing the flashes go off. Or having a deep conversation with a host family that last for hours and helped me reshape our perspectives on the world. Or joking around with friends and suddenly realizing they are all from different countries and it does not matter. Or having a workshop with the whole cast and experience new cultural perspectives that blow my mind. Or performing in front of the Pope in front of the Vatican. Or meeting a president. Or seeing the growth in everyone around me from week to week. And the list goes on. Words such as life-changing are often misplaces, but for this organization I can guarantee you it is correct. It has changed my life for the better. And the great thing is that the effect lasts, because you get to keep the friends.

What would you improve about this program?
If you travel every week to a different city with 100 people from around the world, just imagine the logistics that goes behind this. So of course you can always improve the little things along the way. However it is in Up with People that I learned to take it as it comes, adapt when needed. It is actually the imperfections of the program that make it so great. You travel because you want to be challenged, get out of your comfort zone. So if a bus is late, solve it. A volunteer project is not what was in the description, then redefine it for the better. Our show costumes that did not make it on time for the show in a different continent, solve it in 48 hours by redesigning our wardrobe. These are just the great travel stories afterwards. Overall, there are so many people who care in this program, so there is always a solution whether it is plan A, B or Z. It has made me put life in perspective. It always works out.
Read my full story
Yes, I recommend this program

Up with People led me to great opportunities beyond my one year as a cast member

I knew about Up with People long before I understood it. In 1967, I was in the second grade and heard our local Sing Out in Basile, Louisiana sing the theme song and "What Color is God's Skin?" on a local TV talk show. The messages of the songs moved me (although I was just a kid) and by the time I was in high school, I, too, was singing in our local Sing Out.

When I saw my first Up with People show, it was alongside my fellow Sing Out members as we took a bus trip to a city an hour away to see the show. (Back in 1976, an hour bus trip was a big deal to students in a town of only 2,000).

By the time I became a member of Cast A of UWP in 1983, I was already committed to the ideals of the program because I had been lucky enough to be a part of my local Sing Out for four years of high school.

My hometown helped me raise the money for a big part of my tuition, and I promised I would return to somehow repay the community. I hope I did that when I reorganized our local Sing Out after Up with People visited our little town one year after I returned from my cast year. Over the years, we were lucky enough to get a cast here two others years as well. My little Sing Out was thrilled to perform during those years for four different Up with People casts whenever they were in Basile or the immediate area.

At night in my sleep, I often dream of my year in Up with People. During my 32 years as a full time teacher, I always kept my cast photo above the board in the front of my classroom. I spoke of my year and my castmates often to my students and took many busloads to see the show anytime a cast was within the state of Louisiana.

My year on the road with UWP continues to inspire me and push me to give to my community as our local newspaper editor, our church choir director, and as a member of our local little theatre board. It also has enabled me to take on some interesting jobs opportunities that I would have never had otherwise.

Although I am a certified English and social studies teacher by degree, I became my school's band director in spite my lack of formal music training. When approached for the position, my principal said, "You were in Up with People so I think you can handle the job."

I replied, "I sang in Up with People. I can only play a little guitar. Do you want a guitar band?"

He said, "If you don't take the job then we won't have a band." That was it. With the true spirit of Up with People in mind, I took the position, thinking it would only be for a year. That year became 10 years and included my passing of the Praxis exam in music. I attribute my global music education through UWP for enabling me to pass the test because my only formal music training was a piano class for non-music majors that I took years after traveling.

Now that I am retired from full time teaching, I have taken on the part time position of Talented Music and Theatre teacher. Since I am not certified to teach talented students, the state of Louisiana granted me the position based upon my portfolio of work in music and theatre, primarily including clippings from my year in Up with People year.

I am thrilled to have been able to continue my participation in Up with People over the years through events such as the Branson Alumni Project and the recent Tapestry Cast show in Orlando.

I am currently organizing the 50 Year Reunion for our local Sing Out here in Basile - which will be held in the summer of 2017. Although the group no longer exists, we have had several reunions over the years and even sang for our town's centennial back in 2011.

During my cast's Christmas dinner in December of 1983, we passed out gift boxes to cast members based upon a characteristic that we felt that each cast member exhibited. Each "characteristic" box was wrapped inside another box. The first box was large and the final box very small. When fellow cast member Tag Purvis of Mississippi opened his box and saw the word "loyal," he immediately called out my name and gave the box to me. I was shocked, not because I did not think I was "loyal," but because I felt that so many others were 'loyal."

Now that I am writing this letter, I feel as though it is Up with People that has been loyal to me. Its music began moving me as a second grader. Its spirit guided me as a Sing Outer in high school. Its Cast A83 touched me in ways I am still realizing today.

Darrel LeJeune
Basile, Louisiana
Cast A83

What would you improve about this program?
The expansion of the program to more than just one cast every six months.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An experience that made a big impact and difference in my life

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the experience to travel with Up with People right after college, I feel rich with the amount of friendships I made from around the world some of them that will for sure last a life time!

Traveling with UWP taught me many and diverse life skills that have shaped my personal life and professional formation, from becoming bilingual to developing self confidence to talk and perform in public, from learning how to work as a team with people from many different beliefs and diverse cultures, to build a successful resume and also to have the benefit of so very many international contacts and connections from all across the fields of work and cultures that have helped me through the years to develop my own business through networking with people I met in my travels with the organization.

I developed knowledge and understanding about our world by having traveled with several hundred people my age from all over the planet, we volunteered hundreds of hours in rewarding community projects in the places that we traveled, we performed on stage for hundreds of thousands of people [including a memorable Super Bowl Half Time show!] not too mention having lived with over 350 host families in more than 30 different countries. [I traveled for several years after my student year on their staff], all of these experiences made me the world citizen that I feel I am now.

I recommend Up with People highly as a great opportunity to learn about yourself, about our ever changing world and to truly get the opportunity and the satisfaction to make a difference in this world by being part of one of the very best international programs around!

Travel * Perform * Impact !

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Yes, I recommend this program

Discover the world... and yourself!

Up with people is one of the best experiences I ever had.
I wanted to take a gap year after high school to travel and volunteer. Up With People was perfect for that, plus it had the performance part, which truly helped me to make my choice, as music has always been a big part of my life.
I grew in so many ways during my semester at Up With People. To live constantly with 100 others young people from 20 different contries is the thing that impacted me the most. Everyone is different, has different backrounds, different cultures, and still, those 100 strangers become your family, your best friends, even without noticing... until you have to leave them.
The hostfamilies you live with become so important that when you talk about your actual family, you have to mention that it's your REAL family.

It's not easy everyday. Sometimes, being away from home is hard. Sometimes, you have to step out of your comfort zone (like staying in a hostfamily that doesn't speek english, with you not speeking spanish, or gardening by 35°C with HUGE spiders around). But this is how you grow, and be sure that your new friends will be there for you !

Finally, Up With People helped me to know who I really am, who I want to be, what is important for me or not, what are my values, what do I believe in, and what I want to do (or not) with my life.

What would you improve about this program?
Despite all the good aspects of UWP, there is one thing that disturbs me a bit: I find the program really elitist, in a few ways.
First, because of the countries we visit : we go mostly in Europe and North America. I'm sure there is a lot of other countries that could benefit from the program, and the experience of the participants would be even better.
Second, and mainly, because of the cost of the program fee. It really discourage a lot of people to participate. (The cultural question has probably something to do here too, as what is expensive and what is not). We can see it: the people participating are mostly from USA and Europe, and even more, the upper classes of those coutries (or at least not the poorest, generally speaking).
If these two points could be improved, UWP would be perfect! :)
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Yes, I recommend this program

Getting Ready for Real Life

I traveled in Up with People straight out of high school. I was a bright eyed 18 year old ready to see more than past my own backyard. What I learned and gained was more than I could ever hope for. I learned so much more about the world and understood that everything is connected. I made friends from around the world that I still talk to every week. I also matured being put into new situations every week.
My favorite part is the people. You become so close to your cast-mates because you experience something that no one else understands. It is such an amazing bond that years can go by and it feels like you just saw your friend last week. Recently I went on a road trip with three of my cast-mates and it was awesome. We got to see who we have become since traveling and create new adventures together.
You can also get close to your host families. I still have my little Italian sister email me for every Holiday and I sometimes help her with her English homework. Who else can say that?
Lastly I want to say that if you have never performed before it is okay. Lots of people who have traveled have not performed but it is all apart of the experience!
If you are even considering traveling please apply. What can it hurt? It might be the first step to a great adventure!


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In a world filled with constant change, we are often divided by fear and intolerance. Up with People is breaking down these fears by using our unique blend of volunteering, the performing arts, and travel to empower people across the globe to think...