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Lane, yes, creative fiction can be creative. Once the rules (um...guidelines) are known, they can be toyed with, tweaked, or even discarded. As a norm, travel denotes a measure of freedom & possibilities. Notice how you have drained travel of both to make it function in genre. It's not just a crew working as guards on a journey, now it's a slog, a gauntlet of attrition where the heroes hardly even know their purpose or what resources there are. The whole backdrop has been altered to suit this need. Awesome, right? But also difficult to juggle, difficult to keep consistent NPC interactions, to build a suite of flavorful settings, all with subsettings within should the PCs search for aid & resources. And since you've implied the PCs have better resources back home, it'll difficult to keep them stuck unless you force them onto a railroad plot. Even in a Noir genre, an RPG needs player choices, even if all the choices are bad or worse.
In the real world travel, or major change in jobs, can be stressful even if it's "better" than your current situation. Other times it's just a change in location, your situation does not change. When I suggested that the characters may have better resources back home it does not mean they are much better off. resources could be as simple as knowing where you will sleep tonight, knowing where to get good prices buying/ selling, people you can count on for help. Why would you leave with no set goal and few resources? In the scenario I laid out it could be to help a family member or even the community, or just as easily payback or atonement for their own actions.
It's possible to have lots of travel without it being the focus. The job may be to deliver a cargo but you may have some leeway in how you accomplish it. In the 1930's a trip from Boston to Vegas would have required a lot of stops. Without major highways and the technology of the time you would be lucky to make a couple hundred miles a day. If your patron was a crime family, rich collector or rare art, or a secret government agency, there is a good chance they communicate faster than you move. You may even meet the same contact at several points along the way. If not you have a way of identifying your connection to get fuel and operating cash. Travel is also a good time to throw in random (or not) encounters and side quests. These encounters and quests may give clues who the patron is or what their goals are. They could also reveal treats to the patron, a rival tries to recruit the characters or an underling NPC may be plotting against the boss.At the last stop you did your regular contact a favor, so why were you met outside of town by someone else and answering questions about it.
On a large story arc like I laid out each stop could be days or weeks long. The party needs to catch a ship in San Diego, due to delays along the way the ship has already left and it will be another 6 weeks until the party leaves. Now the GM can use what looked like a brief stop to flesh out the city, make some side quests and maybe give the party a chance to change the story arc.