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My long-time gaming group began in such a way, and our GM just couldnt fathom how we were constantly being slaughtered. We actually managed to reach the WBL just off of the treasure salvaged from dead party members. Eventually we realized the root of the problem... but it took us a good long while.
What's keeping you with the caravan? If you're running a sandbox style game perhaps it's time to strike out for new employment. Rather than a strike, declare both in and out of game that you're sick of going hungry and want to strike out for a bigger prize. Gather info on any dragon hoards, forgotten tombs, pirate troves, exotic monsters, genie lamps... I suggest you break out of the caravaneering business and into ADVENTURING.