What is Heart of Travel?
Heart of Travel is a small, women-owned business, born out of a deep-rooted love and passion for travel, art, history, food, nature, culture, and adventure. We offer small group Latin America tours with a focus on the local communities we work alongside. Founded by two friends and avid travelers, Chelsea from California and Chiva from Guatemala, Heart of Travel seeks to showcase the often undervalued and misunderstood countries of Latin America.
Rooted in these core values, Heart of Travel is designed to provide you with an ideal travel experience that meets your specific wants and needs, ultimately turning your vacation into a deeper and more meaningful experience. Heart of Travel allows you to explore new places as a traveler instead of a tourist.
In addition to providing participants with expertly curated and crafted itineraries to meet their unique needs and interests, Heart of Travel is committed to upholding high ethical standards and sustainable practices to ensure they are making a positive impact on local communities, cultures, and economies.
What is a trip with the heart of travel like?
Whilst on our Latin America tours, touring many beautiful countries, you’ll be immersed in the culture and daily life through authentic interactions that further your intrigue and understanding of Latin America’s history and culture. In addition to meaningful interactions with local communities, our fellow travelers will engage in fun activities and adventures that highlight the following areas of interest: history, art, culture, outdoor adventure, wildlife, agriculture, culinary arts, craftsmanship, dance, music, and nightlife.
Every small group trip to Latin America is its own unique experience, and each of the itineraries can vary greatly depending on the destination. Each place has its own character. As you browse through our different destinations and tours available you’ll note that we seek to highlight each place’s strengths but all our itineraries offer a well-rounded and dynamic experience.
How we got started
At the age of 19, Chelsea boarded a plane to Guatemala on her first ever solo trip abroad. Knowing little about Central America, and not a word of Spanish, she hadn’t the faintest clue of the incredible journey she was embarking on. What was supposed to be a few weeks turned into three years, a new language, hundreds of friends from around the world, new jobs and skills, and more importantly a deeper insight into the world we all live in.
After living in Guatemala and working as a tour guide and English language teacher, Chelsea returned home to Sacramento to pursue a M.A. in Spanish & Latin American studies from Sacramento State. With half of her heart still in Guatemala, she began coordinating group tours to Guatemala, México, Peru and Cuba for adult students at the Spanish school she worked at for before embarking on her journey as a full time entrepreneur in the travel industry with longtime friend, Ana Castillo.
Born and raised in Guatemala, Chiva is 100% a chapina through and through. Life, however, has taken Chiva, all over Asia and to many parts of Latin America and the U.S. After living in Tennessee for a few years at a young age, Chiva developed total fluency in both English and Spanish leading her to pursue a career teaching ESL abroad in her early 20’s. While studying to get her TEFL certification she met Chelsea in 2011. Within days the two were fast friends, an experience that deepened both of their understanding of, and appreciation for, one another’s culture.
Chiva began assisting Chelsea on tours in Guatemala on a freelance basis back in 2015 so when Heart of Travel was first getting off the ground in 2017 there was no question that the two had to work on this project together. Today the pair are 50/50 partners and are having a blast turning their dreams into reality, building up and supporting an incredible team and taking on the day to day obstacles of running a small business with a smile and a whole lot of grit.
Remembering our friend and mentor
Carlos was born and raised in Guatemala City and his career as a competitive taekwondo fighter took him all over the world in his late teens and early adulthood. After years on the road, he settled in the colonial town of La Antigua Guatemala where he founded Guinness Travel in 2010. Specializing in adventure travel, he took a chance on 19-year-old Chelsea and hired her on as his first ever “gringa” guide.
Over the years their friendship and professional relationship grew as they faced challenges together, celebrated successes, and were always working on their next big project. Carlos “el Pélon”, also came to know Chiva well to as she began to take on freelance guiding jobs with Chelsea and him starting in 2015.
On February 12, 2017, Carlos lost his life in a tragic motorcycle accident on the outskirts of Antigua. Forever loved and always missed, Carlos was an instrumental part in getting Heart of Travel off of the ground and preparing Chelsea and Ana, personally and professionally, to embark on this journey offering Latin America tours. To put it quite simply, the girls “learned from the best”. A prime example of strength, dedication, and focus, Carlos remains a guiding light in our venture.