Survey suggests many of us will skip vacations in 2010

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Thirty-nine percent of us will not have a vacation this year, an international study has suggested, as households try to balance the books.

The study by GfK research found that in western Europe, the percentage of people staying at home was highest in countries where financial fears remain, particularly in Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Sixty-six percent of Portuguese respondents to the study said that they would be forgoing a vacation this year, with 47 percent of Spanish respondents and 40 percent of Italian respondents in agreement.

Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium were the least affected markets, with only 13 percent of Swedes, 15 percent of the Dutch and 23 percent of the Belgian respondents saying they wouldn't be traveling.

Dutch respondents were also amongst those that would spend the most money on their vacation, suggested the research, along with going away for the longest period of time - in the Netherlands, 17 percent said they would be heading off for five weeks or longer, compared to a global average of 7 percent.

The study also revealed that Europeans and Americans have very different ideas of what makes a good vacation, with 58 percent of Europeans claming that they like to relax but just 10 percent of Americans appreciating "pleasant idleness."

Conversely, the preferred vacation activity of Americans - visiting friends or relatives, is only the fourth most popular activity for Europeans.

The study, conducted by GfK and the Wall Street Journal Europe, surveyed 16,364 people in 16 countries.