Travellers Guide to an All You Can Eat Buffet

| November 1, 2012 | 44 Comments

As we grow up our parents often tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I always thought it was because they want you to eat healthy and get all the recommended vitamins, nutrients and minerals to last all day at school.

How wrong I was. 

See I think the truth is that they were just secretly preparing us for when we started travelling. They knew that an all you can eat buffet at breakfast is the travellers best investment after visiting local markets.

All you can eat Buffet

 Photo credit

Travellers Guide to an All you can Eat Buffet

I love a good buffet when we are travelling. Sure there is a time and place for them because you may not get the local delicacies in a European style buffet. But usually when you are traveling to different countries they do vary so much from place to place.

Plus, if you are on a budget then a good breakfast buffet can set you up for the rest of the day.

My all time top 3 all you can eat buffets in no particular order are; a breakfast buffet in Olso, a dinner buffet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and a breakfast buffet in Phuket.

All you can eat Buffet, Oslo, Vigeland Park

Oslo; Home to a good breakfast buffet and crazy statues

Maybe it’s the value for money, or maybe its just the fact you can stuff yourself with a huge variety of tasty food until you are at bursting point that makes a buffet appealing to me.

But over time I have realized there is a certain way to attack a buffet to get the best out of it.

When I went to my first all you can eat buffet I remember grabbing the first thing I saw, and filling up before I could even make it to the hot section.

Amateur hour.

Since then I have refined my skills and now like to think of myself as a buffet professional. And if you follow my expert travel tips below, I promise that the next time you meet an all you can eat buffet, you will leave satisfied and ready to get on with your next adventure.

The walk through

DO NOT start piling your plate sky high at the nearest buffet table.

After finding a seat, stand up and take a couple of minutes to scope out the lay of the land. Find out exactly what is being served. There is nothing worse than hitting bursting point and discovering a whole new section you never knew existed.

Vigo, Dessert, All you can eat Buffet

You don’t want to miss out on the desserts section

Get a table

It sounds obvious, but make sure you get a table BEFORE you get your food.

While we were at a breakfast buffet in Oslo we were amazed at the number of people who would get their plate of food before finding a table. They had to wander around aimlessly trying to find a seat while their food was getting cold! Rookie mistake.

Limit the carbs

I know breads, chips and pasta can look tasty. They are hard to resist and bread has been known to be my downfall at an all you can eat buffet because I love trying out all the different types.

But carbs will fill you up more than anything else in the buffet. It is why why they sneakily put them near the entrance! Avoid them and save room for the other tasty treats on offer.

Bread all you can eat

Don’t fill up on just bread (Photo).

Limit your fluids

Freshly squeezed orange juice, fizzy drinks and ice cold will tempt you to the dark side. But stay away from the fluids as they to will fill you up.

I’m not saying dehydrate yourself, but just try and limit yourself to one glass while you are there.

Juice, Barcelona, All you can eat Buffet

Don’t fill up on freshly squeezed juice

The Sampler

This could be one of the most important rules of all and I promise it is the hardest to master!

Only take a spoonful size portion of everything you like the look of. NO BIGGER! This will allow you to try as many things as possible. And if you don’t like something you won’t be wasting a bucket load of food. There is nothing we hate more than saying food go to waste!

Plus if you really love something you can go back and get another spoonful, or two.

Stagger your trips

This is one of my favorite things to do at a buffet.

If you are travelling as a couple, or in a group of friends then don’t all go up at the same time. Instead try to stagger your trips. This way you can listen to your friends recommendations of what options are the tastiest. You can also act as each others eyes and ears, so when a fresh dish comes out you will be the first to know and ready to pounce.

You only have 20 minutes

We watch a lot of Man vs. Food, and Adam (the host) always explains that it generally takes your brain 20 minutes to register that you are full.

So while you will regret it about 30 minutes after you start an all you can eat buffet, I figure you have 20 minutes to fit as much in as you can before your brain catches up.

Going back for one more plate is usually a bad idea

Need I say more? If you are full, don’t push it! The shame in wandering around sightseeing with the top two buttons undone on your jeans is sometimes too much.

Tell us your favourite All you can eat Buffet in the comments!

About the Author ()

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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  1. Marlys says:

    Not to be read when hungry…. but great post. I’ll keep these in mind.

  2. Vera says:

    How very right you are! …I had so many buffets in my life that it would have been a major fail if I hadn’t learned anything from it – so I did, and I’m happy to announce that I follow your rules pretty much. Okay, apart from that “Don’t go back for one more plate”. It hasn’t been a buffet if I don’t feel a little bit like dying. Unless someone else has already demolished the good stuff – then I walk out of it like a pro. One way or the other: hooray for buffets:)!
    Vera recently posted..In photos: A tour of the Hobbit film set

  3. bronwen burmester says:

    very funny….yes i have done the sneak 2 muffins into the napkin and shove into daypack and also walked away with the buttons undone! x

  4. Laurence says:

    lol – this post sounds like something right up Vera’s street. She’s the master of the all you can eat buffet. Normally I skip everything and head straight for the meat section 😀

  5. I find it hard to turn down the carbs. I also find it even harder to not stuff a few in my pocket for later on. 🙂
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..5 Quirky Things to Do in Cancun, Mexico

  6. stefania may says:

    and that is why stretchy pants were invented.

  7. stefania may says:

    yes i love a breakfast buffet have been known to eat the whole range from bacon and eggs, cereal, to pork ribs , cheeses, miso soup and maybe a danish all in one sitting! Your dad cannot believe his eyes sometimes. Just sitting down to my normal breakfast as i write this – weight watchers museli 🙂

  8. I agree my mother was preparing me for travel. I always try to book hostels with a free breakfast. Then in the morning I pig out on toast and Nutella so I am not hungry again till late afternoon.
    Stephen Schreck recently posted..Wednesday’s Weekly Photo

  9. Salika Jay says:

    Hahaha “buffet professional” sounds funny 🙂 I think I’m kind of like that too…lol. I love all you can eat buffets whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. I follow almost all your tips. My secret is following what my hubby eats. Although he doesn’t eat as much (funny, I know especially since I’m really small compared to him), he knows how to pick the tastiest food. Then I go on the “2nd round” 😀 Great read Adela, thanks!
    Salika Jay recently posted..Prague: The Perfect European Holiday Destination

  10. Haha, I love the sample technique! That’s what I go with as well. Take a little bit of everything, see which ones I like best, and then go back for seconds!
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..The Ways In Which I’ve Travelled

  11. All good tips! On the rare occasion when I hit up an all you can eat buffet (Vegas’ Wicked Spoon small-plates buffet is my favorite) I always do the quick roundabout to check everything out first, *before* I go food-crazy. Mmmm….
    Christina @ Packed Suitcase recently posted..Southern Delaware: Highlights for Culture Seekers

  12. Turtle says:

    I always knew there was an art to the breakfast buffet but I’ve never seen it described quite like this before.
    The only one of your tips I can’t follow is about the juices. I drink so much at buffets because I want to try all the different fruit juices and coffees and teas on offer. Such a rookie!
    Turtle recently posted..The most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen

  13. Never knew there was an optimal technique! Certainly taking notes on this one for future gluttony.
    Matthew Karsten recently posted..River Surfing in Canada

  14. Buffet food is one of the cheapest ones when it comes to dining out. I try not to overeat, but it’s so hard so I always end up with a stomachache promising myself I won’t eat that much next time 🙂
    Agness (@Agnesstramp) recently posted..Postcards from Koh Phangan, South-East Thailand

  15. Sounds like my stomach ranting now…oh oh! Loved this guide 🙂
    Mariana Calleja / TravelThirst recently posted..Sensational Sorrento

  16. Too funny! We use the same strategies as well. However we have one important addition, we often specifically look for items that easily fit into a pocket to use as snacks later- single-serving waxed-covered cheese rounds are a a great find!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..JORDAN Photo Gallery– Wadi Rum Desert Camping & Camel Trekking

  17. ANGLO/Dale says:

    …and suddenly my stomach begins to rumble.

    Someone is to blame, but who? Humm
    ANGLO/Dale recently posted..Five Tips & Pics for Passing Time in Hostels

  18. Joy says:

    I like the Walk Through. Definitely a good idea! I think I’ll be using the ‘don’t take more than a spoon full tip’. I always overeat at buffets!
    Joy recently posted..Reflecting on the Past 21 Months Living Abroad

  19. Maria says:

    Really enjoying your post. Anyone who loves food is a friend of mine. 🙂 Your tips are great for the novice. Never overload the plate. A bit of deja vu from our trip just last week. smh. Enjoy eat bite and and sip the liquids so you don’t overload and spoil your meal. Great tips. Cheers!
    Maria recently posted..Warm Up Your Winter By Exploring India’s Top 5 National Parks

  20. Dave @ Kamala Beach Hotel says:

    Some good tips here especially in view of the fact that I am trying to lose a few pounds right now 🙂

  21. Spoon-sized portions, avoiding the carbs, doing the walk around – it sounds crazy but I do all these things too! Buffets are also a great place to sample unique local foods that you don’t necessarily want to order a whole meal of at a restaurant in case it turns out to taste awful – so definitely hit up the foods that look unusual.
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..Why I think airline fees are good

  22. Manchester has some awesome all your can eat Buffets. Try Chinatown or if you’re really up for a challenge, Red Hot World Buffet is a challenge to itself where you can have pretty much anything and they will cook most things for you on the spot!!!!
    Shane Todd- Travel Infographics recently posted..Falkland Islands Facts [Infographic]

  23. Kimberley says:

    Great tips. Carbs are my downfall at a buffet.

  24. Michelle O'Neil says:

    My husband and I went to Phuket last year. One place we really enjoyed was Phuket FantaSea. Every service area was beautiful and neat. The show was great. And continuing on the theme of buffet dinner, theirs was pretty good, with both Thai and international favorites. Particularly we liked their giant fish ball noodles. The price is 400Baht per person -, which is an upgrade on top of the show ticket, but it’s supposed to be the largest buffet restaurant in Asia. My husband and I do remember as one of our nicest outings in Phuket and do recommend it for its quality evening-into-the-night entertainment. Don’t miss it!

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