Airlines and hotels hate that I'm revealing travel's biggest secret, Dead Week, so... you're welcome
Dead Week is not a myth. It's a term airlines, hotels, tourism boards and travel professionals use in January, and they can't wait until it's over.
DEAD WEEK IS THE CHEAPEST TIME OF THE ENTIRE YEAR TO TRAVEL, and it happens ONLY in January. Why? The day after New Years Day until Martin Luther King holiday is DEAD when it comes to travel.
Do the math. Most Americans use up their vacation time for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Not only are they burnt out from travel, they have spent all their vacation money over the span of two months. After New Years Day, everyone is pretty much back on the grind, and the last thing on their mind is travel. Because no one is traveling in the two weeks following all the holidays, travel industry professionals call it DEAD WEEK (incidentally, it's two weeks, not just one, so whoever coined "Dead Week" is so fired).
From January 2 to January 15, hotel rates, airfare and travel packages PLUMMET (Dead Week is also a great marketing tool/illusion... you were looking at very high prices over the holidays, so now that those high prices for travel have stabilized, any fare looks better than it did over Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Many travel companies will offer specials during that time (hotels and airlines need to pack in passengers), so it really is the best time to travel to save money without having any sales around it (like Cyber Monday). But before you hit Google Flights right away, you need to know two things: 1) You may not find deals in popular, year-round destinations like NYC, LA, Miami and New Orleans. A great travel city is a great travel city, so people will still travel there any day of the year. 2) Going mid-week during Dead Week will yield cheaper results than the weekend, because people still do get away for the weekend year round.
The perks other than savings? During Dead Week, kids are back in school (no screaming kids on planes or weird families taking over that hotel hot tub), ubiquitous drink specials at bars, EASY upgrades at hotels (because you will likely be one of few people booked) and UNCROWDED airports.
How do you find a Dead Week deal? Well, look for "winter specials" on hotel and airline websites because no one really says "Dead Week" specials. Again, remember, Dead Week just happens to be a period of time where fares are low, so you won't really see it advertised much. A LOT of the deals come out last minute (basically the week following New Years) so prepare to hunt then. And the deals are huge for packages, cruises and off-season destinations.
Happy Dead Week(s)!