Edinburgh man launches American school bus holiday tours of Scottish Highlands
An Edinburgh man is taking tourists on adventure holidays of the Scottish Highlands – in a New York school bus.
It is the extraordinary vision of Angus Luff, a 24-year-old from Edinburgh who quit his job to launch “Scotland’s first hostel on wheels”.
"They are so iconic,” he says, “I think it’s the novelty of the school bus, it’s very rare you see them in real life.
"Everyone’s always beeping and waving at us. You feel like a celebrity.”
Angus hosts road trips across the Highlands – from Glencoe to the Cairngorms – exploring outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and wild swimming along the way.
The school bus, which can play host to to six people, has been converted to a luxurious holiday home, with beds, seating areas, and a kitchen.
Angus cooks and cleans for his guests, serves as a tour guide and – first and foremost – is the bus driver.
‘I got the bus and quit my job’
Before all this, the business graduate had been working as a management consultant down in Leicester.
He said: “I managed about 2-3 months and thought ‘I don’t want to do this’. I got the bus and quit my job.”
Angus was inspired by a Netflix documentary in which someone refurbished a US school bus to go travelling in.
"I thought, that’s genius,” he said, “Why don’t I get a school bus, but some beds in and run it as a hostel on wheels?”
Built in 1999, the Bonnie Camper is an International 3800 originally used to take children to and from school in New York.
Angus bought it in late 2019, and it took around six weeks to be shipped over from the US.
Then the world came to a screeching halt due to the covid pandemic.
But Angus used lockdown to refurbish the bus, stripping it and furnishing it with the help of his dad.
He focused on getting the business up and running and passing his HGV driving licence.
"I have learned so much,” he said, “I knew nothing about mechanics.
"It’s a lot of the unknown, there’s no other company that does something similar in the UK.”
‘It’s a completely different viewpoint of everything’
By summer 2021, he was ready for his very first batch of travellers.
"It was surreal, I managed to sell out,” Angus said, “It completely blew my expectations.
Why does he think it has been so popular?
"It can be a little bit daunting in the Highlands, thinking ‘where are we going to go?’. Taking that pressure off everybody is good, people can just jump on the bus and have a good time.”
With its high vantage point and large windows, the school bus is a unique way to experience some of Scotland’s most rugged and beautiful scenery.
“It’s a completely different viewpoint of everything,” says Angus, “You are quite engrossed in all the landscapes.
"The views! It’s insane on a good day, going into Glencoe.”
Throughout the summer, he takes people on group trips in the school bus. But he is offering a few dates where people can book individually and have a true hostel experience.
Angus says: “I basically go on holiday every week. I’m very fortunate to be able to do this.
"I really enjoy it and it’s great to see other people enjoy it. Every week you are just on such a high.”
Find out more about The Bonnie Camper trips at thebonniecamper.com