No matter how excited I am about wherever we are heading to, flying with young children is enough to make me want to tap my shoes together three times, open my eyes and just BE THERE, Wizard of Oz-style. There is simply nothing about air travel that isn’t stressful and anxiety-producing on some level. But (and thankfully there is a but), there are ways to make it more bearable if you are able to prepare in advance. As you look ahead to your year’s travel with your family, here are some ideas to make flying as painless as possible.

1. Take advantage of early boarding

When you hear the gate agent say, “Would any passengers travelling with small children please proceed to the gate now” — do it! This early boarding privilege is basically the only benefit to flying with young children. Use this opportunity board, put away your stuff and get your children settled before everyone else is squeezing past you to put away their overhead luggage.

2. Bring activities & snacks

Have a designated bag (if your toddler has their own seat, they can bring a carry on!) filled with activities and snacks. Coloring and sticker books are great, and no, I’m not above a portable DVD player or iPad, etc. All bets are off when you are flying and just want to get to your location as quietly and stress-free as possible. And obviously: snacks!

3. Wet wipes, diapers & an extra set of clothes

Having learned this the hard way (I’ll spare you the details), bring an extra set of clothes, diapers/pull ups and wipes with you and close by in case you need them. There is nothing worse than being unprepared for an explosion, especially in a confined space with no easy means to a changing table.

4. Keep them comfy

I kind of hate that adults show up to airports in their sweatpants, but fully endorse this for children. You want them to be as comfortable as possible, especially if it’s a long flight. This includes a comfy fleece blanket, pillow and stuffed animals if you have room.

5. Rediscover the wonder of flying

I know this sounds silly, but think about flying from your child’s perspective. It truly is an amazing feat to fly high into the air and through the clouds. Enjoy that wonder with your child. Count the clouds and even the occasional bump (my kids actually like those as they think they’re on a roller coaster!) – yikes. But keeping that excitement up will make for a more positive experience and introduce the wonder of travel and adventure to your child at a young age.