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Accessing documents / boarding passes

There was another thread on here and someone mentioned accessing their email on a hotel or internet cafe computer to print a boarding pass, which is not a good idea. I wanted to share a system I have been using for documents that are not super sensitive that I need to access from public computers, often to print. Things like:

  • Boarding passes
  • Rental car vouchers
  • Copies of passport
  • E-Visas
  • Etc

This method assumes you travel with a laptop or smart phone. I use Google Drive for this, but all the major services work the same way - DropBox, OneDrive etc.

The process is:

  • Using your phone or computer, create a folder in your shared drive, usually I call it public
  • Find the option "create a shareable link" or similar. Copy the link. Usually it is some insanely long link
  • Copy the link into a URL shortening program, like or
  • Presto. Now you have a short link like

You can write that link down now and use it on a public computer and it will give you access to whatever you put in that folder. But you don't have to enter your email password or anything. This probably sounds complicated but once you set it up it is super simple, works for whatever you put in the folder, and you can download from your phone or computer documents into the folder very easily.

Posted by
8716 posts

I do something a little different. I set up a free email account just for this kind of situation. I call it my dummy email account.

On my tablet/phone, I download the boarding pass, train tickets, etc and then forward that to the dummy account. I then log onto the dummy account on public computers and print out what I need. I then erase the email on the dummy account. If anyone should hack it, they will find an empty email account. And if they take it over, I'll just get another one.

Posted by
3332 posts

Some have called me a Ludite (and far worse) but I'm just not comfortable having all my eggs in one technological basket. While I do use technology for back up, I still like having hard copies of my important documents and having hard currency in hand. Technology still goes haywire from time to time and I'd rather not have to worry about that. On one trip a satellite got out of position and four different credit cards would not work for a while. Fortunately we had plenty of Euros to pay for dinner. On another trip the ATM system went belly up and nobody could get cash that day. We had enough Euros to wait it out until the system came back on line. Call me what you will, I'm just not going to depend solely on technology for anything -- especially when I'm several thousand miles from home in a land whose language is foreign to me.

Posted by
6211 posts

Thanks for this...this is super helpful and I'm going to try it out. It doesn't seem complicated at all and I like the URL shortening method for getting the link. You also wrote a lot about Project Fi, which I'll try out as well (as soon as Google can actually get the Pixel phone in stock..don't know what's going on there, they seem to have some supply issues)

Posted by
1400 posts

A bit of extra info. allows you to have custom links, which makes this even better. So instead of having to write down or remember the link, it could be something custom and memorable like

And I forgot to add that shared folder is permanent. You can add or remove documents from it at will.

Agnes no problem. I was actually researching Fi because my brother mentioned he wanted some friends to sign up. However like you and others have mentioned the Nexus 5x seems indefinitely out of stock. Supposedly there are some new phones coming on October 5. I am not sure what Google's plan is here, I hope they offer an entry level choice again, otherwise they are missing out on a large market.

Posted by
1962 posts

Good idea. But I can add a better option: Screenshot

You have your boarding pass on your phone. You get to the front, but have LOST THE FREAKING SIGNAL!!! People are muttering behind you. It's a nightmare.

The best way around this is to access your boarding pass and TAKE A SCREENSHOT. That is stored on your phone, not on the web. The phone needs power but the boarding pass is in the photo gallery. PRESTO!! No annoyed line of passengers. Just you at the coffee shop waiting for the plane.

Google "screenshot name-your-phone-here"

Posted by
1400 posts

On the screenshot comment I think you are missing what the use case here is, although that is a clever idea for boarding. The use case is I want to print something out at a hotel or internet cafe but I don't want to log in to my email or other accounts to get to it. So that isn't just boarding passes, it is visa applications, copies of passport, printed directions from a property, rental car vouchers, etc.

Posted by
1005 posts

Here are some tips if you have to use a public computer at a hotel or internet cafe:

Use the "private" or "incognito" setting for the browser

Always clear the history and the cache before you are finished

If you must access a sensitive site, enter you password BACKWARDS, using the left cursor key to go back one character. This will foil any key-logger malware that may be on the computer

If you use your smartphone for a sensitive site, turn off Wi-Fi and just access it via your cellular network. A cellular connection is more secure than Wi-Fi.