SFO Bans Plastic Water Bottles – What You Need To Know

Living inside the bubble of my regular life in Phoenix I’m really not so aware of how horrific the impact of single use plastics is on our planet.

trash islands off central america
Trash islands full of non biodegradable plastics destroying our oceans

When I am out traveling around the world I find it staggering. As such I do my best to minimize and eventually eliminate my personal use of single use plastics.

When I’m in Los Angeles I applaud the way they charge for plastic shopping bags at the supermarket, and how the population has adjusted to bringing their own shopping bags or using paper bags. I wish we had that here in Phoenix too.

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One way I try to minimize my own negative impact on the planet is by using re-useable drinking bottles. I take them with me when I travel, and for the most part have done pretty well with it, although I cringe if I see a photo of myself walking through Rome with a plastic water bottle instead of a re-useable one.

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San Francisco Airport Pushes Boundaries

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is doing something about plastic waste and I am thrilled about it!

San Francisco International Airport leader in zero waste sustainability initiative

As of August 20 2019 SFO will no longer be selling water in plastic bottles or plastic lined containers. Instead, if you want to buy water you will have to purchase it in recyclable glass or aluminum bottles.

The airport has a Zero Waste SFO Program through which no restaurant, shop or vending machine will be able to sell water in plastic bottles. Unfortunately this doesn’t yet extend to soda, but at least it is a good step forward.

SFO Cutting Edge Initiatives

SFO is the first airport to take such progressive measures, but hopefully others will soon follow.

SFO already has other plastics initiatives in place. Earlier this year all the restaurants and café’s at the airport were required to change over to compostable or natural utensils made from paper, bamboo or wood if they were to be single serve items instead of re-useable ones. The airport also requires that single use plastic straws are only available on request.

Houmagic collapsible water bottle for travel
Houmagic Collapsible Foldable Water Bottle, Silicone Lightweight 10oz Portable Bottles Leak Proof, BPA Free, FDA Approved, Perfect for Travel

As extreme as these measures may seem at the outset, they become habit and before long you no longer think about them.

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The Numbers Are Shocking

SFO has been selling 4 million plastic water bottles per year, a number I find surprisingly small. I can’t imagine how many a busy airport such as my own Phoenix Sky Harbor or Los Angeles LAX, Chicago O’Hare or Atlanta Hartsfield – Jackson must go through per year!

San Francisco already has plastic reduction laws and a 2014 ordinance banning the sale of plastic water bottles on any city owned property.

You Can be The Difference

Most airports now have filling stations at or nearby all drinking fountains, so for the last few years I have been bringing a re-useable bottle and just filling it once I have passed through TSA security check. I cannot board a flight without a full bottle of water. It is something I have always done, and although probably more of a security blanket than anything else, I have to have water with me when I fly.

collapseabe reuseable water bottle for travel
RSTime 800ML Collapsible Water Bottle,BPA Free Silicone Foldable Sports Water Bottles for Travel

Before understanding just how devastating the impact of plastic bottles is on the planet I was using refillable bottles just because bottled water in airports is so ridiculously expensive. But now I have a double purpose.

Things To See On The Appian Way: The Tomb Of Caecilia Metella

There are so many amazing things to see and do in Rome.

Today I want to tell you about a fantastic place that you may want to fit into your Rome itinerary. It is located along the Appian Way at the 3 mile marker, so is near the catacombs of San Callisto and San Sebastiano.

The Tomb of Caecilia Metella

The tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way in Rome
The tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way in Rome

This ancient Roman mausoleum dominates the view along this particular stretch of the Appian Way, with its huge tower and castle-like fortifications. One of the best preserved and most visited monuments along the Appian Way, it is intriguing and fascinating, and like everything in Rome, has a great back story.

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Who Was Caecilia Metella?

This particular Caecila Metella (there were several) was born into one of the wealthiest families in ancient Rome. The Metella family wealth and power dated back to the 3rd century B.C and lasted until the end of the Republic. The family held both political power and important military seats.

In that time female names were often taken from the father’s family tree, so the Caecilius Metellus clan had multiple Caecilia Mettelas. Every daughter in the family had the same name, as if they had no importance at all, and were just human chattels. The males were given first names – her father was Quinicus Caecilius Metellus. This Caecilia was born around 100 B.C and was married to a powerful Roman general and politician who was actually instrumental in the conversion of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His name was Marcus Licinius Crassus

Positioned as it was on the highest and most prominent point on the Appian Way, this glorious structure could be seen for miles. You could be forgiven for thinking it was built as a testament to a husband’s inconsolable grief at the loss of his wife, but it wasn’t. We don’t know the reason for her death or even exactly when she died. We don’t actually know anything much about her, and her mausoleum gives us no clues either. Which is a little odd. Well, actually it tells us two things in an inscription on the wall.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

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The Mausoleum

The Tomb of Caecilia Metella on the Appian Way in Rome

The tomb or mausoleum is made up of a rotunda sitting atop a square podium, with the Caetani Castle attached to the back. The podium is 8.3 meters tall and the cylindrical drum rotunda standing on it is another 12 meters tall. The diameter of the drum is 29.5 meters or 100 Roman feet. Caecilia’s sarcophagus originally sat in a funerary sill inside wall of the massive tower, facing the Appian Way, but now calls the Palazzo Farnese home.

Although as a side note, there is some dispute over whether this is in fact Caecilia’s sarcophagus. At the time of her death cremation was the norm, so her ashes would have been placed in a funerary urn. Also a study that was done on the sarcophagus suggests it dates to 180 A.D. But who knows?

The exterior of the mausoleum was made of travertine. The upper level of the tower was decorated with a marble frieze depicting wreaths and the skulls of oxen, both of which were a reference to sacrifices made to the Roman gods. Quite a masculine motif – not what we would expect for a tomb dedicated to a woman. The relief in the center is also very masculine, depicting a helmet, shields and a prisoner. The only nod to Caecilia is on the inscription:

inscription on the Tomb of Caecilia Metella in Rome

CAECILIAE Q.CRETICI.F METELLAE.CRASSI

Which translated reads Caecilia, daughter of Quinicus Metellus Creticus and wife of Crassus. (The Creticus part refers to her father having conquered Crete.)

Not beloved wife and daughter, not any descriptors of her. Just an indication that she was the daughter of one man and wife of the next, like a possession passed around.

The Fortress

The Cetani castle at the Tomb of Caecilia Metella in Rome

In the middle ages the fortress was built, eventually becoming the Cetani Castle. The earth covered, rounded roof of the mausoleum had battlements built onto it and it became an important fortress, guarding the Appian Way and the southern entrance into Rome. The castle houses a museum and has ancient statues throughout the courtyards

Why Build the Mausoleum?

Tomb of Caecilia Matella on the Appian Way in Rome

So why build this huge, spectacular mausoleum for a woman not important enough to have her own name? It is thought to have been built towards the end of the 1st century B.C, sometime after Caecilia’s death, but in all likelihood not to celebrate her. Her death probably coincided time wise with the opportunity to show off the wealth and power and greatness of this eminent family, and celebrate the glory of the men named on the inscription.

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A single ticket is valid for 7 days and gets you into the Baths of Caracalla, the Villa of the Quintilii and the Tomb of Caecilia Metella. A great way to enjoy the Appian Way is by bicycle, and the area surrounding the Tomb of Caecilia Metella and the Cetani Castle is fabulous both for taking photos and for having picnics!

Bonus Content

Would you like to go wine tasting in Rome but don’t know where to go?

I have three favorite places to go wine tasting in the Eternal City. Each is quite different from the next and each offers a very different experience. I have made a downloadable PDF with all the information for you, as well as some tips for Walking Wine Tours. (If you are subscribed to my newsletter this will already be in your inbox) Get your Wine Tasting In Rome PDF Here

How To Work Your Money When You Travel Overseas

Are you traveling to another country anytime soon? Are you familiar with working with foreign exchange? I probably get asked about this more than any other travel related subject. This week someone posted a terrible money exchange story on a Facebook travel group that I belong to. When they arrived in Rome the airport money exchange place told them they only had a €500 note. Take it or leave it. Unfortunately she took it. This comes with a world of trouble, so I am writing this post in the hope that I can prevent something like this happening to you.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on working with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards when traveling internationally. How to avoid pickpockets

This post contains affiliate links

Travel With Currency

I will come back to that story in a minute, but first I want to emphatically stress that you must always travel with some of the local currency. You cannot rely on the exchange place at the airport being open/having cash/or even that there is one at the terminal you are arriving in.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on workign with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards. How to avoid pickpockets

Euros in small denominations

The same goes with relying on an airport ATM machine. They might be out of cash. Chances are they are not part of a bank but instead are part of Travelex, a business that makes money on exchange rates and fees.

It can be incredibly annoying if the person you are traveling with doesn’t bring cash with them and is mooching off you until they get some – don’t be that person. Bring around $100 worth of the local currency with you at a minimum, and get your currency in small denominations, not large bills.

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Use Your Coins

Outside of America most currencies use coins for low denominations. You won’t find the equivalent to $1 bills in most places, some don’t even have $5 paper money.

Use up these larger coins prior to leaving as you normally can’t exchange them back to your own currency. You don’t want to arrive home with lots of €1 and €2 coins that you can’t exchange.

Have A Conversion App On Your Phone

Download a conversion app before leaving home, and make sure you are aware of where the exchange rate is trending. Nowhere will give you the official exchange rate, but at least you will know if you are close to it or if you are about to get ripped off.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on working with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards when traveling internationally. How to avoid pickpockets

Pounds Sterling, British currency.

Use Your Debit Card – Wisely

On my Glam Italia Tours I advise everyone to use their debit cards in Italy to get cash. I use my debit card all over the world and have found it to be the most cost efficient and overall efficient way to get money.

Check with your bank to find out what fees they attach to each transaction. Some don’t charge any, (I have been told Schwab doesn’t, but haven’t verified it personally), some charge $3 per transaction, others charge a transaction fee of $3 to $5 and then charge a percentage of the total transaction on top of that. My Credit Union has a $3 fee but my Chase debit card has the $3 plus 2% of the total withdrawn. These fees add up fast, so do your research ahead of time, and if necessary open an account just for traveling with a new financial institution.

RELATED POST: CREDIT CARD TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

More Debit Card Tips

  • Only use your debit card to withdraw cash. Don’t use it to purchase items, as those fees add up fast.
  • Withdraw the maximum. Rather than withdrawing $100 per day with a $3 fee per transaction pull $300 and only pay the transaction fee once.
  • Call the number on the back of your cards and register them for going overseas. The bank will ask for the dates you will be gone and which countries you will be in. Failing to register them for international travel can result in your card being shut down the first time you use it.
  • Only ever withdraw cash from a bank ATM. Ideally only when the bank is open, and an ATM machine inside the bank. You are more vulnerable to thieves and cloning devices when you use the ATM outside the bank. Also, should the ATM machine eat your card the bank can open it and retrieve it for you if it is during bank hours.
  • Non bank ATM’s are not secure and can pretty much be guaranteed to have the worst exchange rates and additional fees.
  • Ideally use a debit card that is not attached to a bank account that your bills pull out of. Should your card get hacked or cloned while you are traveling you don’t want to have them drain out your mortgage/rent payment and all your ACH’s. This can be a costly headache if your payees attach fees to missed payments.

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What To Know About Credit Cards When You Travel

Your best bet is to travel with Visa or Mastercard. Although there are places that will take American Express and Discover Card they are fewer and further between.

Sign up for a travel-friendly card. Capital One Venture Card, Chase Sapphire, and many of the Barclay Group cards all have zero transaction fees for international travel. Do your research on the best credit cards for international travel and sign up for a new card that is designed for international travel. Not only will you not have transaction fees but you will also get better exchange rates.

Only ever complete transactions in the local currency. Many places with a high tourist footprint will offer you to make the charge in their currency or your home currency. You will always get a bad exchange rate if you opt for your own currency.

Money Belts

Depending on where you are traveling a money belt can be a really good idea. These are flat pouches that hold passport, credit cards and cash and are worn underneath your clothes.

Eagle Creek money belt sits under your waistband and holds passport, cash and credit cards

Eagle Creek money belts are available at The Container Store

  • Think of your money belt as a safe, not a wallet.
  • Take out what you need for the day and keep everything else inside your money belt. The idea is that no one knows you have one on, so don’t get it out during the day to get more cash or cards.
  • Think about what you are wearing – if you have a money belt with a tight T-shirt over top then everyone can see you are wearing a money belt, so you have just alerted the thieves exactly where your valuables are.
  • Think you can stop them getting your money belt if they can see it? Think again. They are pros at separating tourists from their valuables and will be off with your passport, cash and cards before you know it.
  • Separate your cash and cards. Never have everything all in one place. A small stash of cash and a card hidden in a separate place can be your saving grace if a pickpocket gets the better of you.

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Travel Insurance

You should buy a travel insurance policy for every overseas trip. Get coverage for lost or missed flight connections, lost luggage, failure to make or complete the trip due to medical issues, and super, super important get coverage for a major medical incident. We don’t plan on anything major going wrong when we travel, but we need to be prepared in case heaven forbid we wind up in a car accident, have a heart attack, get appendicitis etc.

Find the best choice for the travel insurance benefits you need with Allianz Travel’s OneTrip Suite of plans. Get Your Free Quote Today!
Look for a policy that covers a flight home for you with a nurse should it be necessary.

I have used Allianz Travel for all my travel insurance for years. Should you get sick while away you can call Allianz and they will find you an English speaking doctor nearby.


AllianzTravelInsurance.com

So the lady who got conned into taking a €500 note at the airport in Rome? She got very stuck. No one will cash a €500 bill. Apart from the fact that it could be counterfeit, most places don’t carry that kind of surplus cash. Even banks may not want to help you out.

Bonus Content

The lead up to an international trip can be really stressful – there are so many things to remember and to take care of before you go! I have a pre-travel checklist that I use myself and also give to all my Glam Italia Tour travelers. It is in PDF form so you can download it and print it as often as you want.

If you would like this stress-busting checklist just CLICK HERE

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