Levels 1 through 35
You have multiple options now, with the advent of the tutorial and the TSS expansion, you can either level 1-10 in either the tutorial, or Crescent Reach, then continue in CR until level 20, then go to either Blightfire Moors, or the current hotzone, or try the more scenic route below.
SoE has made the level progression from 1 to ~55 pretty fast. You can get through the first two sections of this guide in less than a month casually if you really work at it, however, you will miss a lot of the scenery of the game.
First, you may want to consider hiring a mercenary. If you can heal, get a tank; if you melee, get a healer. There are also melee damage and caster damage mercenaries, but these are better used in a group than solo. Additionally, watch your plat, as they will cost you for use, and if you run out of money, they will leave, and you will have to pay the new hire cost again. This is available Oct 21st, 2008
Start in the tutorial dungeon first, and do all the quests and level to 10th. I have heard that the experience modifier in Crescent Reach is such that you can hit level 10 in less time there, however if you choose this route, you should really do the starting tasks charm in the tutorial before leaving. The Gloomingdeep armor which drops in the tutorial is pretty decent for these levels and will serve you well until you find better.
No matter what option you take, it would not hurt to head straight to the Guild Lobby to get TEMP and SOW, and any other buffs available. Additionally, if you have any plat then you may want to buy some better gear and potions before getting the buffs. Once you get buffs from the lobby, log out and back in to the tutorial. Now you can hunt in either CR or the tutorial, you'll kill faster and have less chance of dying. Check each and every corpse you kill, get the money, and look for Crude Defiant armor and weapons drop from various mobs. Collect each and every piece of this that drops, even if you cannot use it, you may be able to trade it for a similar piece you can use.
If you have hit level 10 in the tutorial, you can leave and it will place you in Crescent Reach. From there, you can either start doing the tasks in Crescent Reach or head to the lobby and get rebuffs, and log and go through the tutorial to get back to CR, however, once you hit 11th level you will not be able to to return to the tutorial.
Now that you are level 10 or higher, you will start to see Simple Defiant armor and weapons drop from various mobs. Again, collect each and every piece of this that drops, even if you cannot use it.
Also collect augments that drop which can be added to your gear to improve their statistics. Generally augments are LORE which means you may only have one of them on a character. Examine the augment to see which armor pieces or weapon slots and the type of slot in which it can be used. Pick up an augment (left click), then hold down the right mouse button while over the item and drop the augment into the slot in which you wish to install the augment. The augment will also tell you which type of solvent you need to use to remove the augment. With low level gear it may not be worth removing augments as you will be finding better as you level up.
Once you hit level 15, if solo, you may want to stay in CR, but if you have a solid group and/or are well buffed, head out to Blightfire Moors, or the current Hotzone, there you may be able to get better equipment and experience will be faster.
The random Defiant gear is nice, however, it will not cover the following slots, ears, fingers, back, shoulders, and neck. In these cases you will want to gather the random drops from the older hotzones, as well as any of the Quests in Blightfire Moors, or you can optionally purchase the equivalent Defiant items from the merchant in POK. This merchant was added recently.
Even when Blightfire Moors is not a hot zone, it is a pretty good place to level all the way to level 35+, if not, the hotzones also provide a good way to level quickly.
Using a combination of the above methods I know of people leveling up to 35 solo in less than a week in real life, on a casual schedule, or even in a weekend of grinding it out.
Start in the tutorial dungeon first, do the quests and level to 8 or 10, or start in your home city, and do the newbie race/class armor quests there (some may not work any more).
First thing, however, is do the starting tasks Kobold Skull Charm. And leave to POK or the Guild Lobby get TEMP and SOW, and any other buffs available. If your shared bank has plat then you may want to buy some better gear and potions before getting the buffs. Log out and back in to the tutorial. And then hunt. You'll kill faster and less chance of dieing.
At 8th to 10th level head to Field of Bone. Level to 12, getting buff's as needed and then head to Kurn's Tower. Level to 16 or higher levels solo, or if possible, get groups and level to 20th.
Then head to Paludal Caverns work up to 18th to 24th in a group and kill bandits. Or solo other mobs till you can solo bandits.
Next head to Netherbian Lair from 24th to 28th level.
After that put on your thermal underwear, and head to Iceclad Ocean go hunt outside Tower of Frozen Shadow from levels 26 to 38 solo when you can.
Next (you may want to put on your asbestos cloak) head to Burning Woods and kill the wasps from level 38 to 46 or you can go to the outside of Chardok if you have a group from 40 to 51. Even with this method, you could finish the lower levels in about 48 hrs game time, even with some bazaar shopping and sitting around included.
If soloing try to have the potions, and buffs from PoK, Guild Lobby or guildies, or passerbyers. They will keep you alive longer, and help you kill faster.
As for loot not much is worth it unless you are dead broke (with the exception of Defiant armor and weapons, check the corpses for both those and plat). Just farm when you need to. Level fast and farm better mobs later, as you find you need the plat.
With a mercenary pretty much any class can level quickly and you will likely make enough money from the stuff you loot.
Next up, Level 36