Escort quests can take awhile to do. I have thoroughly tested all the escort quests in the game for time/xp. Most are worth doing, but as long as you are able to actually do them without failing. Most require you to pay special attention to the escortee as most are fragile and will die easily, so do your best to keep mobs off of the escortee during escort quests. The longest one in the game is the Tanaris chicken escort. The chicken escorts are only worth doing if you were able to do all 3 of them, as if you do, you will be able to turn in an additional easy quick XP turn in quest at BB, which makes them worth it.
In player vs. player designated zones, you will still be viewable and attackable by players, but you are not left completely defenseless. While engaged in a Pet Battle, any attack from another player will break you out of the battle. You will receive a 3 second damage shield that will absorb 50% of incoming attacks. The same exact wild pet that you were previously battling will respawn after you come out of combat with the other player. However, if you defeated the primary pet in battle prior to leaving the match, the pet and its team will not respawn.
If the end game feels miles away, and min-maxing is difficult because frankly, you're gonna take what you get and like it, then the focus of the game changes completely. Suddenly it's about the experience of leveling again, and hanging out with friends, and chatting with people in Goldshire (well, for purely innocent reasons anyway -- the Moon Guard server's Goldshire crew still does plenty of chatting).
Where to get materials and reagents you may ask? Buy for cheap off farmers in bulk or track Auction House lots. Get in touch with most big sellers. Communication is important here, send a whisper or write them a letter. It would be good for both of you to establish business relationships. Constant suppliers and buyers is convenient for both parties to save the time and effort.