There is a list of essential things one should carry for a trip to Ladakh, irrespective of the mode of transportation being used. This list is no way a complete list and one can customize the below mentioned list and append the list according to the needs, but this list comes up with the most essential items and should not be overlooked.
Water is the most essential thing while traveling anywhere and Ladakh is no exception, since dehydration can further complicate health issues at such a high altitude. So make sure you are carrying at least couple of liters of water all the time and make sure you drink at regular intervals.
Carry Diamox if you aren’t allergic to sulfur drugs (helps reduce some of the symptoms of AMS) and medicines for headache, fever, stomach ache, cold and cough syrup. This medicine is only for the AMS, so you would have to carry other medicines if you have medical conditions. This medicine is just an add-on to the First Aid Kit you carry and it would be advisable to have a talk with your doctor if you have any pre medical conditions.
UV rays at high altitude can be quite damaging to the skin, even during the harshest of winter, so don’t forget to carry a good quality sunscreen lotion with rating of SPF30 or higher and apply it properly before going out in the sun.
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As mentioned earlier, UV rays at high altitude can be quite damaging and this holds true for eyes as well. So having decent quality UV sunglasses is quite essential, especially if you are traveling early in the season or during winter, when mountain passes have a lot of snow cover and sunlight reflecting from the snow can be even harsher!
Dry and cold weather of Ladakh will make your lips dry, which can get quite painful due to cracking and skin coming off, so make sure to carry a lip balm or Vaseline.
Mustard/Coconut oil can be used for moisturizing skin, putting it in your hair and for lubricating insides of nostrils, which can become quite dry and painful due to dry and cold winds of Ladakh.
Carrying water mixed with Glucon C/D is a good idea while traveling at high altitude, as it provides instant energy on the move, when your appetite is likely to be reduced due to AMS and at the same time, doesn’t act as a diuretic, like most caffeinated energy drinks. Carry couple of small packs with you, which you can mix in water, at the beginning of the day.
Carrying couple of chocolates, a pack of biscuits and few hundred grams of almonds, raisins and cashews is a good idea, as these provide instant energy and easy snack and don’t take up too much space. Those who love spicy food, make sure to carry pickle or sauce, since Ladakhi food is a bit bland.
Paper soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb and toilet paper. You can also carry your shaving kit and face wash if you have the space and need for these and any other toiletries.
In Ladakh it is best to dress in layers, since majority of coldness is due to wind chill and temperatures can change rapidly depending on the place, time and weather. Hence dressing in layers will allow you to add/subtract layers as and when needed. So make sure apart from your regular cloths, you are also carrying a sweater, gloves, cap (protect head and ears from cold winds), warm inners (especially if you are traveling in off season) and if possible, air/water resistant jacket.
It is essential to carry at least one government-issued identity card and a couple of photocopies of it, since it is needed while applying for inner line permit and at certain places, to register at the check post. You should also carry your medical insurance card (if you have one), Map of Ladakh, your printed itinerary, hotel reservation slips (if you have prebooked), couple of copies of your flight ticket (if traveling by air) and list of important contacts (useful in case your mobile phone stops working).
Carry all chargers and batteries for all the gadgets you carry.
Carry at least one spare set of batteries required by your camera, since in cold environment, batteries can die quickly.
If you are an avid smart phone user and planning to log your route on your favorite GPS App, then make sure you are carrying car charger or a power bank with at least 4000-5000mAH capacity to keep your mobile phone running throughout the day.
Doesn’t matter if you are carrying a laptop or planning to burn CDs/DVDs at Leh, carry enough memory cards to cover your entire shooting duration in Ladakh. If needed, borrow from friends but don’t depend on laptop HDDs or worse still, virus infested cyber café computers to copy and save your photographs!
Not really needed if your mobile phone has one, but if in case it doesn’t, carry a small LED one.
While my recommendation would be to carry enough cash you need, to avoid wasting time withdrawing cash, it may not be feasible for everyone. So please keep in mind that ATMs beyond Srinagar and Manali are only available in Kargil and Leh and they too are few with often long queues in front of them.
Only post-paid mobile phone connections from other states work in Ladakh and even from these, only BSNL has presence beyond Leh. So unless you wish to be dependent upon STD booths, carry a BSNL/MTNL post-paid connection.