DEAR HARRIETTE: We drive a lot at the end of the year going to visit family in three states. There are five us -- two adults and three kids. We have fun usually, but one of the things that always causes some friction is what music we listen to. All of us have different musical tastes, and tempers flare when the hours tick away and one of us wants a particular music that's not playing. In the past, we would defer to the driver because music can help to keep you alert. But that doesn't totally work because the four other people aren't satisfied. What do you recommend? -- In Tune, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR IN TUNE: I recommend that you mix up all of the activities, including the music. Do not keep music on all the time. Play word games or location games that get everyone looking out the window and learning about where you are going. Tell fun stories about previous trips. Invite each family member to contribute. You may even want to start a story and pass the story around so that you build the story together. Don't worry if it turns a bit fictional. What's important is that it should be fun.
As far as music goes, give each person a 20-minute window for listening to his or her favorite songs. Either shop for your music on the various available channels, or go to your own music on CDs to play. Keep mixing up the genres so that everybody has fun. With the various music services now, you may also want to explore new options. For example, there's a free app called Songza that has unusual playlists based on specific interests. My husband plays that when we are on long road trips, and we all get to hear a medley of unusual musical selections. Make it fun for the family. Your attitude toward your time in the car will make all the difference in how welcoming your family members are to each other's preferences.