About Mostly Amélie

Amélie Gagné

Hello and welcome, I’m glad you’re here! My name is Amélie Gagné and this is my story.

I’m not from an adventurous, well-travelled, or wealthy background. I’m a country girl at heart. I took the plane for the first time at age 21, when my mom, sister and I escaped to Cuba with my dad’s life insurance to commemorate one year of his passing away. It is still to date one of my best travel memories. A whole new world – literally – of possibilities and hidden paradises suddenly opened up to me. I dined on spicy black beans, sweet guavas and strong espresso where Hemingway once sat in a cloud of cigar smoke, and realizing that travel and food were two peas in a pod, I was forever hooked and that’s when I decided to do something more about it.

A few months later, I decided to get rid of all my belongings and go spend a few months in Vancouver on my own, with the goal of becoming fluent in English. And so, aged 21, I set off westward with a backpack and an amazing feeling in my tummy. What I found in Vancouver is so much more than the ability to articulate my thoughts in another language: I befriended other backpackers and became a roommate in a crazy house with 9 other people from all over the world where I lived for 2 years. Vancouver gave me a thirst for adventure, but also made me realize this: everywhere I decide to go on the planet, there is a life full of wonderful people awaiting.

With that in mind, I reluctantly left Vancouver for San Diego, California to see if there was indeed another fun-filled life waiting for me elsewhere. And surely enough there was: in this youth hostel in the middle of the city, backpackers like me, from all over the world, with their arms wide open, my new family. We lived and worked together as the staff of the hostel, with hundreds of other backpackers coming and going around us. We partied hard, played music on the rooftop at night, took the guests on day trips to Tijuana, cooked our meals together and shared the same dorm. I made lifetime friends and even more.

After nearly a year in San Diego, I journeyed to the U.K. to follow love (found in San Diego) and this was the best decision ever. England and the whole of Europe was a brand new world of discoveries for me and I finally felt like I had earned my “traveller” label. England was my new home and before I knew it, 2 years and several new countries had gone past and I felt like I should perhaps pay home a visit and get some form of education. So I packed it up for Montreal in 2007 where I spent 6 years, obviously not without doing many short travels. In the process, I got a second college degree in commercial photography and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Major in Design. I have been working part-time as a freelance photographer and graphic designer since 2008, mostly in fashion, editorial and with musicians. You can visit my portfolio right here.

Life in Montreal was a whirlwind. I was overworked, stressed out, sleep-deprived. I got a full-time job as a graphic designer right upon graduating from University, while my freelance work picked up more and more, and I started landing crazy amazing contracts and meeting tons of awesome creative people in the industry. But it was too much too soon. I was part of a wheel that was spinning way too fast. I needed a break. So I escaped, to find myself and to find balance. And this is how Mostly Amélie came to be.

We booked a one-way ticket to Asia in January 2014, got rid of our apartment and most of our belongings and set off with only a small backpack and this great old feeling back in my tummy. I lived there the best two years of my life, with my partner of 10 years, until it all came to an abrupt stop when he announced to me that he wanted to continue his life journey on his own.

From then, out of an adrenaline rush, I bought a bicycle and set off to one of my craziest adventures of all: cycling alone 6000km between Malaysia and Germany, the final destination for my “new life”.

That alone was a whirlwind, but so was life in Germany.

I have been in Berlin for five years now, and still sometimes see it as a bit of a parallel universe I didn’t want to know existed. It’s been a rollercoaster for sure, but I have grown so so much as a woman (honestly, if the younger Amélie Gagné could see me now), and this blog continues to follow my journey through life, but also, there’s this one thing that’s kept me together since day one: yoga. From one adventure to the next, Mostly Amélie is the journal for my life as a sometimes lost single woman trying to navigate the world.

And I’m glad you’re here.

37 thoughts on “About Mostly Amélie

  1. Camille - This American Girl

    Beautiful story and beautiful writing. You are a brave soul my dear 🙂 Glad I got to meet you and hope to see you somewhere else one day!! <3

  2. Maria S.

    wow, this is amazing. I’m in high school, and i can say i have a fair amount of experience traveling but this hunger for more adventures is something “all-inclusive resorts & excursions” surely don’t fulfil. It’s too bad my mom isn’t as daring to travel anywhere and without a plan or especially stay at a hostel. & with college around the corner all i hear is debt calling my name. I can’t wait to turn 18 and be able to escape on short trips with myself (maybe friends but even they aren’t as daring) but you’re definitely an inspiration and it’s people like you that let me believe i’m capable of achieving such adventures. I aspire to travel and go on such endeavors that will change, teach, and fulfill this desire I have. (:

    best of luck and hope to meet you some day!

    1. Amélie Post author

      Hi Maria, thanks so much for your lovely comment! I didn’t start traveling until I was 21 and my family was not of the adventurous kind, so hold on tight and keep your dreams alive! When we aspire to great things, only great things will happen!

  3. Maria S.

    Thank you for the advice! But out of curiousity if you don’t mind me asking how did you support your travels financially so young at the age of 21?

  4. Rohit

    Nice “Sthory” 😀 Nice “Hisssthory” . “Amaajing” inspiration…

    Keep writing Amelie.. Even I and few of my friends wish to step out and travel every backpackers path some day soon. Keep Clicking snaps and Writing Senorita 😀

  5. Losthorizons

    I started to reply to you with the intention of sharing the size of my travel bag…. Ended up getting a bit carried away. Lol Verbal diarrhea was a name I came up with for my book. At first I started writing in this space and then shifted to my iPad to let it all out.
    I came across your blog early this morning and enjoyed taking a peek at your life adventure.
    I’m a traveler by genes. At the oblivious age of 3 my 23 year old mother and her girlfriend packed my sister and I into a 1970 vw van and traversed Africa Asia Europe for two years, 27 countries later we ended up in western Canada.
    Bohemian hippies best describe us at the time.
    As soon as I turned 18 I started my own journey returning to my birthplace the land down under.
    Since then I have filled a few passports and other than living in Thailand from 2005 to 2014 I never stopped longer than it took to save and go again. That’s not entirely true as my life unfortuneatly has never been so simple.
    The one thing I have learned and try to emphasize to newbie travelers is Less IS Best when it comes to what you carry.
    Quoting my father ‘if the situation is not right take what you can carry and don’t look back,’ now reality is no one listens and end up with 120ltr packs and day packs stuffed to the point of zippers screaming for release…
    Admittedly I too did not listen to any advice on my first trip carrying everything but the kitchen sink; scuba gear was the bulkiest but that was only the tip of the iceberg!
    I quickly mastered the art of packing light by my second solo journey. A shopping trip to MEI to purchase a 35ltr pack with attached 5ltr day pack attached set the bar.
    Different climates require suitable apparel but I tend to collect and discard what I need along the way.
    Getting to my point before I begin to bore you! My first trip I too had a bulky Camera with two or three lenses assorted rolls of film filters tripods etc….
    Packing what you need into a 40ltr space eliminates all the gear that really is not part of the trip, journey, experience.
    Back then in 1991 I found that Olympus Stylus was an awesome compact camera. Point and shoot and the results were surprisingly good. Being Unobtrusive made for shots taken without anyone knowing. Shooting from the hip was my favorite angle.
    Jump ahead to 2014 I went to visit a friend in Southern Myanmar traveling super light for three weeks. My bag was a day pack truly stuffed to the brim but 25ltrs was enough. My camera was the Olympus XZ-1 beautiful piece of machinery. I must say that until I went digital I was more into f stops and field of depth. When digital emerged I went with auto setting in most situations.
    Jumping ahead to 2015 I bought a Samsung S5 mobile phone based on the reviews of its camera and video AWESOME.
    Less IS Best. Pack light as you can. Traveling light Is so much easier.
    Essentially if we can apply this to our everyday life it will be lighter.

    I am going through yet another a transition.
    After almost a decade of living in Thailand I sold gave away everything I could not
    carry last December.
    With pain in my heart and soul I left the country, culture I had come to love, embrace and essentially called home.
    Getting on a plane with all my earthly possessions in one checked suitcase I went to the far north west of Australia to find work in the Mines believing that I had to get the big money job so I could buy land somewhere and create my retirement home…
    Low and behold I am not cut out to living in a western society.
    I got the big money job cooking in a Diamond mine. But before I knew it I had so much stuff I could not move. All this stuff weighted me down.
    The power of mass media encouraging commercialism. The constant bombardment of buy buy buy was too much to resist. Within a very short period I was becoming a cog in the mighty wheel of modern society. My salary was stupid money $67,000 a year and I only had to work two weeks a month. Of course I worked 12 hrs a day back to back for 14 days.
    But regardless the system was not working in my opinion. I got little joy out of working in a remote mine site cooking unhealthy food for unhappy people… The more money I made the more I spent.
    I quiet the job. Sold all the stuff again and drove across the top end of Australia on a soul searching journey of sorts.
    6 weeks and 9800 kilometers later I am sitting in a guest house room in northern NSW’s waiting to get back on a plane to Myanmar.
    On the bed is my bag: a 60ltr duffel bag. I will fit my life into it and head off on a quest of sorts to the last frontier in SE Asia.
    December 2013 Southern Myanmar For the first time in 50 years allowed foreigners in. I have a friend there who has opened a guesthouse. I went to visit last year and was blown away by the kind and generous locals.
    It was in many ways challenging traveling but worth it.
    In some ways it’s like stepping back in time.
    Unfortunately it’s changing rapidly and so it will.
    Western societies will propel these kind generous people into the systematic abyss of extinction through commercialized living and all the sad wonders of the so called developed societies…
    But for now and for a a few years to come I imagine it to be a place where I may be able to find a place to call home.
    In the last few years of my life I have recognized the importance of avoiding negativity, company of fools and Urban living.
    If you have any inclination to break free do it.
    Sell up and do it.
    Creat a bucket list if you wish and just do it.
    You can always go back to the grind.
    I guess that’s one thing about being an Aussie or Canadian we have a passport that allows us the freedom to choose between being a cog in the wheel or not.
    Pack light and get out there~

  6. Jennifer Ryder Joslin

    Great story 🙂 Where are you in SEA? My husband and I recently moved to Phnom Penh. Love that pic of you at the bottom btw! Where is that?

  7. Rohit Joshi

    Amazing work done by you, You’re a brave girl, and you story is quite interesting, Just want to say just Keep It Up.
    Hope to meet you someday, by the way i am coming to Krabi on 24th of September, if you are there we can meet and hear your story Live.

  8. Wendy@TheNomadicVegan

    Hi Amélie!
    I’m just writing to say hello and introduce myself, having discovered you through the collaborative post we both contributed to for Veggie Visa. Actually I’ve seen your name come up a few times before, but I’m just now getting around to checking out your site. Looks great! It’s always a pleasure to meet another vegan travel blogger. Happy travels!

    1. Amélie Post author

      Hi Wendy! Yes, thanks for reaching out! I’ve been meaning to check out the other bloggers in the post that I didn’t know, it’s always so great to connect with like-minded people! I will check out your blog today!! 🙂 Super nice to meet you!

  9. Christina

    Hi Amelie, nice to discover ur blog. You’re such a inspiring person. Love all ur travel post. Keep writing and live up ur dream. Hope you have a safe and wonderful journey ahead.

    Lotsa love,
    Christina from Malaysia

      1. Suzanne Teems

        I happened upon your site by looking up JB Huts. some how. My son and I just got back from there and stayed in what looks to be the same hut you stayed in. Thailand and JB Hut’s is my son John’s home away from home, He calls Bella his 2nd mom. Her warm coconut milk is my favorite thing. My son opened my eyes to a whole new world- What should have been a vacation for some started out like ‘ the amazing race ” for me and was an adventure. He has lived in England, and traveled alone to the surrounding countries, and even Morocco and lived in Thailand several times. While living there, he traveled many times to Vietnam, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and surrounding islands and jungles . He worked as an English language teacher , to which he in turn learned to speak Thai. Then he went back to England to earn his masters then moved back to Thailand to do an internship with the United Nations. At the end of the internship, he paid for me to come out there and show me a life outside of my own to which I had never known before.
        I have spent my whole life “in the dark” , supporting and sacrificing so that my children could go after their dreams, wishing but never feeling that it would ever be possible for me to go after mine. Dealing with the passing of my mother and my husband wanting to divorce me, my son realized that I needed to do this for me. After many years, I became afraid to hop on a plane and yet my son “forced ” me to step outside of my comfort zone.I had exercised and gotten in the best shape since my 20’s , but even more to prepare for the trip and when I got on the plane realizing it finally became a reality for me, I finally felt free. Here I was at 51 years old , I had my back pack, and just within the first 4 days of the trip, I had taken a plane, subway, taxi, tuk-tuk, motorbike, bus, overnight train, longboat, ferry, and katamaran. It was an adventure and I needed it.
        I wish I had believed in myself enough to had done this years ago, but I guess better late than never. And yes, I want to do yoga and become a hippie 🙂

        1. Amélie Post author

          Suzanne, this made me so happy, you can’t even imagine. It takes a lot of courage at any age to do this. I just left from spending a month in Koh Phangan 5 days ago, so I guess we were there at the same time 🙂 I am in Bangkok right now getting ready to fly to Europe to continue the journey. I can’t help but feel it’s a little wrong to leave this beautiful land after almost 2 years here, but I think I have to move on. I know I will be back anyway and hope you will to X

  10. Kevin Dunn

    Amélie. I think what you are doing is the greatest thing. Honestly. So many people are missing out on the very thing, living life to the fullest and not getting caught up in what many people call is the real world (Grown up life/ jumping right into a career) after graduating. I applaud you for taking that giant leap of faith, and listening to your gut feelings a.k.a that tummy feeling and doing what you really wanted. I love coming across stories like yours. It’s truly inspirational… I’m looking forward to doing something similar to what you are doing…. Taking that leap is the hardest part. Anyways you are doing great! Keep doing what you are doing that makes you happy 🙂

    -Kevin J. Dunn

    1. Amélie Post author

      Thanks so much Kevin! Yeah, taking the leap is definitely the hardest part, but as they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone 🙂

  11. puti

    “I took the plane for the first time at 21” it hits me. it’s such an inspiring background story. hope i cud meet you in some corner of the earth 🙂

  12. Lisa

    hello- what kind of camera do you use? Your photos are really great. I just last week returned from Burma, which is how I discovered your blog. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Amélie Post author

      Hi Lisa, thanks so much for dropping by and thanks for your nice comment!! I listed all of my equipment in this post: https://mostlyamelie.com/what-to-pack-whats-in-my-camera-bag/ 🙂

  13. Dagmar

    Your blog is beautiful! Thank you for sharing all the stories and tips! I am about to leave my comfort zone very soon and move to a different country and reading this helps me not to freak out so much 🙂

  14. Paulo

    Hey, great blog. I’m from Vancouver and just got to Berlin 3 weeks ago. Here till December. Would love to meet up for a coffee and hear more about your travels.

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