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There's multiple possibilities. Some of them are a partially clogged fuel filter, poor fuel pressure, a bad sensor or sensors, etc...
Have you checked/changed the filter? What's the fuel pressure?
You can access a simplified version of the trouble codes on this model - with the car off, turn the ignition switch on, off, on, off, and on again relatively quickly. The check engine light will blink out the codes. An example would be blink, pause, blink, blink. This would be code 12. Chilton's or Haynes books give you the code's meaning (that code means battery disconnect). These can at least give you a place to start.
57k miles on a '94, nice...
The transmission should be able to handle a 500lb load and a 500lb tow, you really shouldnt hardly even notice the weight unless you going up some steep grades.
as far as what to look at before going on a long trip, diffenetly get a oil change if you havent in 1500'ish miles (or get one on the road when you get closer to the recommended mileage of 3k miles, which you should hit easy enough on a 11 hour drive to your destination) Perhaps plugs and wires if you havent had at least 1 tune up since driving off the lot. all your fluids, bulbs, fuses(bring extra fuses with you), at least 1 spare tire, tire pressure(35-42psi), and anything else that is general maintance that needs to be done also.
Other then that, you should be fine... Just dont forget to check the gas gauge once in awhile, and she shouldnt die on the way :P
May be having problems with engine vacuum leaking. Pull the large hose going to the vacuum operated brake booster and block off the hose end with a cork or other plug. Start the engine and see if it runs more smoothly. Set the emergency brake and put in gear--does it idle smoothly? If so, then you likely have a bad vacuum leak within the booster unit. Restore the vacuum hose to the cylinder and arrange to replace the cylinder.
First try changing the fuel filter. It is extremely easy and costs about 12 dollars at Wal-mart. If that doesn't work than try changing the fuel pump itself. Little more costly but still pretty simple to do.