Money

One simple travel hack can save you hundreds of dollars when you're on the road

When I set out to do Iceland on $50 a day in April, I knew I'd have to get creative. The country, while stunning, is notoriously pricey.

Even the basics will put a dent in your wallet: Coffee goes for the equivalent of $5, a sit down meal will set you back $20 to $40 and a beer typically starts around $7. Food and drinks alone could easily cost upwards of $50 a day.

To save room in my budget for tourist attractions and a trip to the local swimming pool, I decided to skip sit-down restaurant meals and hit up one of the local supermarkets, Krónan.

Food, snacks and chocolate milk for the day cost me $11
CNBC
Food, snacks and chocolate milk for the day cost me $11

It was, without question, the most cost-effective strategy of the trip. I spent $11 on breakfast, lunch and snacks for the whole day — fruit, bread, meat, cheese, trail mix and chocolate milk — which is less than one typical meal out in Iceland will cost you.

And, since I kept transportation and activity costs low, I even had room for a pricey americano and dinner at Iceland's famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

I could have grabbed a breakfast pastry and coffee for $10, spent $15 on a salad or sandwich for lunch and treated myself to a $25 sit down dinner. Tack on $10 for a few snacks and a bottled water, and that would have been $60.

Instead, here's what I spent on food for the day:

Coffee: $5
Groceries: $11
Hot dog: $4.50
Total: $20.50

I could have kept things even cheaper had I skipped the coffee and half gallon of chocolate milk, but this way I felt like I had some indulgences. I even ended up with some leftover meat, cheese and baguette slices.

Sure, I wasn't enjoying puffin, lamb or rounds of Icelandic craft beer, but that was fine by me. After all, I was there to see the city, explore the countryside and soak in the local culture. I didn't feel deprived.

If you want to keep things cheap while on the road — and you don't mind missing out on some of the local delicacies — head to the supermarket for most of your meals. I saved about $40 in just one day. Imagine how much you'd save if you were gone for a week, a month or a year.

Don't miss: Iceland is super expensive for travelers, but its best-kept secret is free