Hi Gabs !,
Excuse me for my english (it´s very basic level), I think that the solution to all your problems is how ever ... the money ... you need to buy first a "pano-head" and second ... a fisheye lens (like nikkor 10.5 mm) ... whith this two things you will "see the light at the end of the dark tunnel".
Whith a good pano-head you will get good results whith your actual lens (18-55 mm), whith the multi-row tecnique and ptgui software ... but you will take a lot of pictures... is very hard work and if your intention is to sell your services like panophotographer this not profitable !, and in many situations whith moving objets and people is better to take how less pictures as possible using a fisheye lens.
There are many fisheye lens cheapper than nikkor 10.5 like sigma... this gives you good results too.
At this link you will find a very good review from technical, lens and pano-heads:http://www.fromparis.com/html/technical.php
Best regards Gabs !