Anyone else use Big Town early in the game to store their stuff and sleep? I use a cabnet in one of the buildings and sleep on that mattress outside the guard Dusty uses. This makes the grind early on so much easier. Store all of your stuff there and restore health with a quick nap. Always a fast travel away.
I also went to Rivet City pretty early in the game and have not even went to the science lab yet. Just there for upgraded equipment and to barter. You can get your best deal grinding with Bannon if you turn in Seagraves for being a slaver. I already have a high barter ranking for my level (72 on level 8) but the +5 barter with the trader outfit and +5 barter for the hat make it a pretty good deal early on with his discount for helping you. Bring him your stuff to sell, clean him out, go outside side, save for 48 hours, and he has cash again.